Malaysia's Faiz Helmi Jali at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. The poor performance in Glasgow and at the World Cup recently has started a cataclysmic chain reaction to Malaysian hockey. - AFP
KUALA LUMPUR: The under-performing national hockey team have been downgraded to Category B by the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) for next month’s Incheon Asian Games.
Hockey has always enjoyed good support and qualified on merit for most Games. But the recent spate of poor performances and issues in the team have prompted the OCM to review their status and their ability to meet hit the target.
Sports going to the multi-sports Games under Category B will have to pay their own way. If they meet the target set by the OCM, whatever expenses incurred will be reimbursed.
Like the men’s hockey team, the women’s squad will also come under Category B.
For the Asiad, the OCM have set a semi-final target for both the men’s and women’s teams. The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) have targeted a place in the final for the men’s team.
MHC secretary general Datuk Johari Abdul Aziz was surprised by OCM’s move.
“We will discuss this issue at our council meeting on Monday. We will also debate on our new constitution and also set the date for our biennial general meeting,” said Johari.
There is now a possibility that the MHC may not send the women’s team to the Asiad as they face an uphill task to the OCM’s semi-final target.
The Asiad is an important tournament for the men’s team as it is the first step in the qualification process for the 2016 Olympics. The gold medallists will gain an automatic berth to Rio de Janeiro.
But with the recent changes in the coaching staff as well as the team management, the target of winning the gold is going to be a tough task.
Last Monday, the MHC council replaced coach K. Dharmaraj and the entire team management with a new set of officials headed by coach A. Arulselvaraj and manager Tai Beng Hai.
Hockey is not the only sports to be downgraded to Category B. The others are football, cricket, rugby, kabbadi, beach volleyball and the women’s badminton team.