Hey Speedy Tigers, having fun under the bus?

FIH Men's Series Finals Kuala Lumpur 2019

Malaysia hockey is sweating like a pregnant nun. It ought to.

The team’s a nut job. Yesterday, they sleepwalked to a disturbing ‘Italian Job’ that made fans grunt and moan.

The 4-2 defeat against Italy in the FIH Series Finals on home turf indicates that the wheels have come off Malaysia hockey.

It’s sheer disgrace as the tournament is low in standard and involves the nobodies in world hockey.

Malaysia look in need of smelling salts before the match against Wales at 8pm tomorrow to decide who will make the semis.

Against Italy, Malaysia – 13th in the world order- formed an orderly queue and followed each other over the edge of the cliff.

Put this down to incompetence. Presume this was one devastating hockey storm when the ‘Speedy Tigers’ acted in concert appallingly to create horror.

Italy, ranked 32nd in world hockey, on the other hand, never stopped dreaming after years wandering in wilderness. What collective belief.

Verily with great privileges accorded Malaysia such as juicy allowances, incentives and specialist coaches comes carelessness, mule headedness and egos.

If you detect an uptick in outrage and downturn in patience among hockey fans, you’re not imagining things.

The aftermath of the ‘Italian Job’ follows a predictable trajectory in the sport – from shock and grief to resentment against the rapidly falling standard of Malaysia hockey.

Consider these in the ongoing tournament:

  • Roelant Oltmans has failed to squeeze the best out of the strikers who can at times be compared to a bottle of tomato ketchup.
  • Did someone say Dutch penalty corner specialist Taeke Taekema is of no use?
  • The leaky defence has conceded eight goals so far.
  • Did someone say Dutch goalkeeping coach Martin Drijver is wasted investment?

 

Malaysia rarely played Italy because we are supposedly among the top hockey playing nations. Their last encounter at the 2008 Olympic Qualifier ended 4-4.

Coach Oltmans didn’t think of Italy when he said Malaysia had better not think about the Tokyo Olympics if they lost to Brazil, ranked 27th in the world. Malaysia won 6-0.

Losing to Italy by a big margin brought with it a dark day in Malaysia hockey that once enjoyed rapturous fan support.

In the world of hockey, “world class” 13th ranked Malaysia are riding a kapcai in a league of Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Why else do you think the stadium is empty when Malaysia play? The Malaysian hockey story in recent years has been one of villains, pain, laggards, conflict and loss. Hardly have you had joy, leaders, perseverance, hope and victory.

Losing to Italy and a 4-4 draw with China on home soil is unacceptable. Losing to Wales tomorrow whom we last beat 3-0 at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games last year will trigger anger and heighten the infuriating whistles of derision directed at the players and the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC).

We thought 2014 was the year when Malaysia suffered huge humiliations in the history of the sport. We lost 4-2 to Trindad & Tobago, then ranked 29th in the world, in a group match at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in July.

A month earlier, Malaysia finished last in the 12-team World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands, failing to win any of the six matches.

In the following years, Malaysia continued their dysfunctional performances:

  • Failed in Kuantan to qualify for the 2016 Junior World Cup.
  • Fifth at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
  • Defeat in the final at the Jakarta Asian Games last year.
  • A miserable 15th out of 16 teams in last December’s World Cup in India.
  • A lowly third among makeshift teams at the Azlan Shah Cup last month.

 

At the rate the team is going, a hero-hungry, sports-loving Malaysians will never get that exalted image from hockey, and the sport will not develop a powerful sense of entitlement.

Watching Malaysia play is a cringe-inducing experience – painful to watch.

Is fantasy giving way to inescapable truth?

Technically, a happy ending is still possible in the FIH Series Finals but truth is Malaysia are not ready for the Olympics and don’t deserve it.

The MHC leadership has its needle stuck in the same record groove as when it took office.

Fans will not accept apologies from anyone until the MHC leadership takes its head out of the sand and stops pandering to one’s ego.

Everything the leadership has been saying is like nails on a chalkboard. So, how do you spell Malaysia when one talks hockey? I.T.A.L.Y.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.