MHC: Unfair competition format cost Malaysia dearly

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia, despite producing their best performance since the 2002 World Cup, can’t help feeling they have been victimised by an unacceptable competition format which placed them out of the top 12 in the just concluded edition in Bhubaneswar-Rourkela, India.

The Speedy Tigers, who won three of their six matches, finished joint 13th with France while South Africa and Wales, who just secured one win each from the six games they played, occupied joint 11th spots.

Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal (pic) said that the format did not do justice to Malaysia who finished second in the group stage (Group C).

Malaysia lost to Holland 0-4 but bounced back to beat Chile and New Zealand by identical 3-2 scorelines.

According to the competition format, the champions of each group proceed straight to the quarter-finals while the second and third-placed teams have to play in cross-over matches.

The losers in the playoffs will have to battle against the four teams that finished last in the group stage.

Malaysia were involved in a titanic tussle with Spain which ended 2-2 before losing the shootout 4-3 which cost them a last-eight spot.

Malaysia then lost 6-3 to South Africa, which was the only win for the African team, and the defeat pitted the Tigers against Japan where a 3-2 win earned them the 13th spot.

“We played very well in the tournament and it is unfair for them to finish only 13th. By right, we should be playing in the ninth-12th placing playoffs,” said Subahan.

“South Africa did not win a match until they beat us and they finished 11th. That was their only win in the tournament.

“We beat the higher-ranked New Zealand, Chile and drew with Spain before losing in the shootout. We had a goal disallowed against Spain, one of the top teams in Europe, and it would have been a different story if it had stood.

“We can’t do much but I call upon FIH to have a relook at the format. I don’t think it was a fair format.

“The teams finishing in the top two of each group should be playing in the quarter-finals. Even if that is not possible, the teams that lose in the crossover should play for ninth to 12th positions.

“I do not believe we deserve the 13th spot because we showed that we could match and trouble the best teams. We can only get better.”

Subahan is also hopeful that the FIH will not use a similar format for the men’s Junior World Cup which will be held in Kuala Lumpur from Dec 5-16.

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