KUALA LUMPUR: Tai Beng Hai will continue to be the national coach despite the team’s dismal performance in the inaugural Champions Challenge II tournament in Dublin last week.
The team had been targeted to win the tournament and gain promotion to the Champions Challenge next year. Instead, Malaysia – ranked 16th in the world and seeded second in the tournament behind Japan – finished a dismal fourth in the eight-team tournament.
The national team won all their three group matches but lost to world No. 18 Ireland 1-2 in the semi-finals.
In the third-placing play-off, Malaysia lost 3-4 on golden goal to France. Ironically, Malaysia had defeated the French 4-2 in their group match.
Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who chaired a 2½-hour council meeting yesterday, did not speak to journalists as he had to rush to Putrajaya for a meeting.
MHF deputy president Nur Azmi Ahmad said that Tengku Abdullah, who watched the three group matches in Dublin, was disappointed with the team’s performances in the semi-finals and third-placing play-off.
“He was disappointed that the team failed to live up to his target of winning the third-tier tournament,” said Nur Azmi, who added that Tengku Abdullah blamed their poor finishing and weak defending for the poor showing.
“However, he says that Beng Hai will continue to coach the national team for the World Cup qualifying tournament in November.
“The president still has faith in Beng Hai. However, he wants Beng Hai to rectify all the weaknesses in the team so that they will be able to put up a strong challenge in the qualifying tournament.”
Nur Azmi also confirmed that George Koshy would remain as team manager.
Malaysia will be among 18 teams competing in the three qualifying tournaments. Only the winners will gain automatic berths to the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi next year.
Judging by their performance in Dublin, Malaysia stand a very slim chance of being one of the three winners.
The national team will leave for Australia next week to compete in two quadrangular tournaments in Canberra and Adelaide from July 23-Aug 4.
Both tournaments will also feature Canada, who have already secured direct entry to the World Cup Finals as Pan American champions, and two Australians teams.