I REFER to the article “Aye, aye skipper Sri Shan” (The Star, Aug 28; online at bit.ly/star_hockey).
I am quite certain that the excellent write-up by Joash Ee De Silva about former national hockey supremo Datuk Seri N. Sri Shanmuganathan has rekindled fond memories among many Malaysians of our country’s achievement during the Kuala Lumpur World Cup in 1975.
Malaysians from all walks of life were proud of the fact that it was the first time that the country was hosting such a prestigious hockey tournament.
Not surprisingly, the local newspapers and RTM covered the tournament extensively, paying particular attention to the matches that Malaysia played.
I recall that RTM carried live radio broadcasts of Malaysia’s group matches. The broadcasts were eagerly followed by sports fans all over the country. Only the final, semi-finals, and the match for third placing were telecast live on television.
I recall that following a rather nervy 0-0 draw in the opening game of the group stage against New Zealand, and another scoreless draw against Spain, Malaysia notched its first victory by beating Poland 3-1. Our team lost the next game 2-1 to Pakistan.
Malaysia’s last group match was against the mighty Netherlands, who were also the defending champions. This was the match that Malaysia had to win to advance to the semi-finals.
Although we were the underdogs, our team, with the fervent support of the home supporters, rose to the occasion to beat the defending champions 2-1.
I recall that Malaysia’s winning goal was scored by “Sri Shan”, as Shanmuganathan was affectionately known among the Malaysian press and sports fans alike. He sealed Malaysia’s victory from a penalty corner in the last minute of normal time. The whole country was in a celebratory mood following this historic win.
The semi-final against India was another exciting encounter with Malaysia leading 2-1, with seven minutes remaining. However, India managed to equalise and force the match into extra time. In the end, India’s experience proved decisive and they won the game 3-2.
Although it was a heartbreaking loss, the Malaysian team had performed above expectations and made the country proud.
Without doubt, the commitment, self-discipline and excellent team spirit shown by the Malaysian team are qualities that every local sports person should emulate.
HUSSAIN ABU BAKAR
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