Sunday September 30, 2012
Ex-internationals to join Champions Challenge I squad
By AFTAR SINGH
KUALA LUMPUR: National hockey coach Paul Revington (pic) has surprisingly called up seven former internationals for his training squad for the Champions Challenge I in Quilmes, Argentina, from Nov 24-Dec 2.
They are defenders Mohd Amin Rahim, Mohd Madzli Ikmar Mohd Nor and Mohd Sallehin Ghani; brothers Jiwa and Jivan Mohan, both midfielders; and forwards Chua Boon Huat and Ismail Abu.
Boon Huat, 32, and Ismail, 28, last donned national colours at the Champions Challenge II tournament in 2009. Jivan, 29, and Sallehin, 27, last played for the national team three years ago as well.
The 31-year-old Jiwa’s last assignment was in 2010.
The 33-year-old Madzli quit after the Olympic qualifier in Dublin in March while Amin, 32, played in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in June.
Midfielder Kelvinder Singh, who was dropped at the last minute from the Dublin squad, has also been called up along with all the 18 players who featured in the Olympic qualifier.
Revington selected the players based on their performances in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).
But are these former internationals, some of whom retired three years ago, the answer? Can they still deliver at a high level? Do they have the stamina, strength and commitment to give their best?
And what about the controversial report of the last national coach, Tai Beng Hai, who had strongly recommended that new players replace the old campaigners who had failed in the past? Beng Hai had also dropped some of the seven players recalled by Revington in rebuilding the team.
But Revington appears to favour a quick fix for immediate results rather than long term benefits. Whatever the rationale, it certainly is a blow to the young talents he has chosen to ignore.
The South African could have called up players from the Project 2013 squad who have qualified for next year’s Junior World Cup in New Delhi.
These players are the future and have proven themselves by winning the Junior Asia Cup.
National team manager George Koshy confirmed that the ex-internationals were among the 30 players called up for training.
“Revington believes that they are still in good shape and should be given the chance to make the team,” said George.
Surprisingly, Revington has snubbed 27-year-old former international S. Selvaraju and KL Hockey Club’s speedy and skilful 23-year-old forward Harwinder Singh.
One former international who won’t be making a comeback though is Tenaga Nasional skipper Mohd Madzli, who retired after Malaysia’s failure in Dublin.
The former national captain has turned down the offer as he feels he won’t be able to give his best.
The 32-year-old Amin, who quit the national team after the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in June, was surprised that Revington wanted him in the squad.
“Revington had a heart-to-heart talk with me. He believes I can still contribute. Madzli is definitely not making a comeback but I’m still undecided,” said the father-of-two who has won 237 caps.
“I was criticised for my poor performance in Dublin. I don’t want to be blamed for another failure again.
“I will decide after the MHL ends on Oct 10.”
The national team have failed to qualify for the last three Olympic and World Cup tournaments. It will be a real challenge for Revington to guide Malaysia to the 2014 World Cup in The Hague, Holland.
Revington, who is assisted by former international S. Arul Selvaraj, has been tasked with winning the Asia Cup in Ipoh next year.
The winner of the Asia Cup will qualify automatically for the World Cup, which Malaysia last featured in as hosts in 2002.
If they fail, the team will have to compete in the inaugural World League for a second chance at qualifying for the World Cup.