KUALA LUMPUR: Paul Lissek has been reinstated as the national hockey coach from next week and will chart Malaysia's attempt to qualify for next year's Athens Olympics.
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein announced last night that Lissek's service was still needed to handle the national team until the Olympic qualifiers in Madrid, Spain in March next year.
“The decision to reinstate Lissek as the national coach was a decision agreed to by the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF), the players and the National Sports Council (NSC).
“Lissek's main priority will be to prepare the national team for the Olympic qualifiers,” said Hishammuddin after receiving the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Trophy last night for his dedication to sports.
The NSC, who are the paymasters of Lissek, dropped a bombshell on the MHF last week by dismissing the German from the national job after Malaysia's disastrous performance in the Asia Cup last month. Malaysia lost to Japan and failed to qualify for the semi-finals. Instead, NSC assigned Lissek to take charge of the junior development.
The MHF had initally wanted an open interview next month to seek a local coach as replacement. In the meantime, they called on Under-16 coach Yahya Atan to handle the team for the inaugural Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad, India from Oct 24- Nov 1. However, Yahya rejected the offer.
In a reaction to the NSC sacking, several national players including skipper S. Kuhan and defender Nor Azlan Bakar jumped to Lissek's defence, threatening to quit the national team in protest.
Hishammuddin hoped that the players would show full commitment in training and competitions now that the issue was settled.
“The matter has been resolved and I don't want any interfering from any party. I just want the players to train full time and go all out to book a berth for the Olympics.
“The extension to Lissek's contract will be decided after the qualifiers in Madrid,” said Hishammuddin.
NSC director general Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad disclosed that Lissek agreed to return to handle the team for the Olympic qualifiers during a meeting yesterday.
“I also had a talk with Kuhan and told him that everything is resolved and the players should concentrate on the qualifier,” said Mazlan.