Several names have cropped up as likely candidates to take over the hot seat as the new national hockey chief coach from K. Dharmaraj when the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) holds an emergency council meeting to discuss calls for him be sacked after a string of disastrous results in international tournaments.
Among them are current national juniors coach A. Arulselvaraj, MHC director of coaching Tai Beng Hai, former national coach Stephen van Huizen and even Sarjit Singh one of the best hockey players Malaysia has produced.
Sarjit, however, is currently tied down with the Terengganu Hockey Association as a consultant while Arulselvaraj is grooming the juniors under Project 2016 who will play in this year’s Sultan of Johor Cup Under-21 Invitational tournament in Johor Bahru in October.
Arulselvaraj is not new to the senior national team as he was the assistant to South African Paul Revington who quit the team in a huff early this year, citing poor health as his reasons when in fact it was the “politics” in the sport that drove him away.
Tomorrow’s emergency meeting has been called after the national team’s playing-cum-training tour of Holland, which was due to begin tomorrow was called off at the last minute following Malaysia’s miserable outing in the recently concluded 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Malaysia finished seventh after beating Scotland in the placing match.
However, big defeats to England (8-1), New Zealand (6-1) and 4-1 to unheralded Trinidad and Tobago sent Malaysian hockey to shambles despite winning their opening against Canada 2-0. Finishing 12th in the 12-team World Cup in The Hague, Holland in May is Malaysia’s worst ever performance in the world meet. For the record Malaysia finished fourth in 1975 when the World Cup was held in Kuala Lumpur.
Many quarters have called for Dharmaraj to quit for a new coach to take over the team for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea from Sept 19-Oct 4. The Asiad champions will gain an automatic berth to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
With the likes of India, Pakistan, China, South Korea and even Japan, Malaysia are not likely to make any headway in the Korean city of Incheon if the current state of affairs of Malaysian hockey is left unchecked.
More so when the national team is divided and some of the players, including seniors, have called for Dharmaraj’s removal. Some of the seniors who have many more years of hockey in them, are prepared to quit the game. In fact some have already quit out of frustration.
In his Facebook posting Dharmaraj likened the MHC management to still living in caves and on tree tops which hurt MHC supremo Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who is the Crown Prince of Pahang.
Dharmaraj was subsequently given a show cause letter. It is learnt that this will also be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting.He also challenged the MHC to sack him if they are not happy with his handling of the senior team.
For the record the Malacca-born Dharmaraj took the national juniors to fourth place in the last year’s Junior World Cup Finals in New Delhi held in December.
Whatever decision is taken tomorrow will have to be endorsed by MHC council meeting on Aug 18.