KUALA LUMPUR: Several senior players are likely to quit the national hockey team following the exit of German Paul Lissek as their coach.
Lissek, who is employed by the National Sports Council (NSC), was re-designated to the development squad last week after Malaysia's poor fifth-place finish in the Asia Cup. The NSC decision forced the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) to look for another coach.
An offer was made to Yahya Atan to be the interim coach but he turned it down, saying that he preferred to remain with the national Under 16 team. The MHF's coaching committee will have to meet again this week to deliberate on the matter.
The national team are down to take part in the Afro-Asia Games in Hyderabad later this month and training is scheduled to begin next week after the Razak Cup tournament in Malacca.
Lissek has been on holiday since he was removed as national coach. He is expected to return to Kuala Lumpur by Thursday.
One senior player, Nor Azlan Bakar, has made it clear that he will quit the team if Lissek is no longer the coach and more are expected to follow suit.
Skipper S. Kuhan said yesterday that the players would make a final decision on whether to remain in the team after a meeting with Lissek.
“There is talk on players wanting to quit. But nothing concrete has taken place. But I will not be surprised if there is an exodus if the decision on Lissek is maintained,” he said.
“We have not had the chance to talk to Lissek after the announcement was made last week. We need to find out his decision and why it has been made now, especially with the Olympic qualifiers just five months away.”
Kuhan conceded that the team had performed badly in the recent tournaments.
“But is the sacking of the coach the answer? The players were not told about it and their views were not sought.
“No one from the MHF took the trouble to talk to the players about the Asia Cup and our performance,” he said.
Kuhan said the players had faith in Lissek and believed that he can help them qualify for the Athens Olympics next year.
“There are talks that we may have problems in the qualifying tournament in Madrid. But for me, Lissek is the best person to get us there (Athens),” he siad.
“We know things have not been going smoothly but we see this has a hiccup and nothing more.”
Lissek took over as the full-time coach in 2001. He had a short stint in 1998 as coach of the team who won a silver medal in the KL Commonwealth Games.
But this year, it has been one disappointment after another in tournaments for the national team.
They finished last in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in March and also in the Champions Challenge in South Africa in July.
In the Asia Cup, they lost to Japan in a group match and it cost them a place in the semi-finals.