Clock is ticking for players


BY AFTAR SINGH

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Sports Council (NSC) have issued an ultimatum to the hockey players to either give their full commitment in training or leave the squad. 

Twenty-five players have been called up for training in Johor Baru to prepare for the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad from Oct 24-31. 

The NSC's director general, Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad, who met the national players for 30 minutes in Bukit Jalil here yesterday, gave the players 24 hours to decide on the matter. 

“I want 100% commitment from players in training. We have an important assignment next year – that is to qualify for the Athens Olympics,” said Mazlan. 

“If any player feels that he cannot attend full-time training, he should leave the team. We want only committed players in the national team.” 

He added that he held the talk with the players because he was concerned over the poor performance of the team in three tournaments this year. 

“Hockey is one of the main sports in the country. We spend a lot of money on hockey every year and we want to see some encouraging results,” said Mazlan. 

“If players have problems in training, they should inform the team management, who can help solve them. Otherwise they should fully concentrate on the task to qualify for the Olympics.” 

Malaysia finished last in the five-nation Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in March and the six-nation Champions Challenge in July. In the Asia Cup last month, the national team lost to Japan and failed to qualify for the semi-finals. They ended in fifth place. 

The poor outing in the Asia Cup resulted in Paul Lissek being removed as the national coach by his employers, the NSC.  

The German coach was reinstated following appeals by Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) and the players. 

Mazlan added that they would get the help of sports science experts to assist Lissek in drawing up a comprehensive training programme for the Olympic qualifiers in Madrid in March. 

“The experts will also help the players to improve on their fitness and also their nutrition,” said Mazlan. 

Five players were absent from the meeting with Mazlan yesterday. They were Jiwa Mohan, Reduan Ponirion, Tajol Rosli, S. Shankar and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin. 

Lissek, who also attended the meeting, said that Jiwa and Reduan would join the team after they finished their university examination on Oct 18,” he said. 

“Shankar is having problem getting leave from his employers while Tajol is attending a practical at Tenaga Nasional and is expected to join the team today.” 

He added that Tengku Ahmad had been dropped because he was under suspension by the MHF for indiscipline and Azli Misron had been called up as the replacement. 

Tengku Ahmad was among the 10 players in the national junior team who had breached discipline by going to disco until 5am when they were in Poland for an invitational tournament in August. 

The national players were supposed to leave for the camp in Johor Baru yesterday but will only depart after a meeting with the MHF deputy president, Tan Sri P. Alagendra, this morning. 

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