Munich ’72: Former Malaysian hockey captain rues missed Olympic semifinals opportunity

Malaysian hockey fans always bring up the glorious team that finished fourth at the 1975 World Cup.

But former captain Datuk Seri N. Sri Shanmuganathan, who played in three Olympics, said if fate was kinder, the fans would also be talking about the team that qualified for the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Four years earlier, in Mexico City, Malaysia finished second last despite having, what Sri Shan believed, was one of, if not the best teams, in the country’s history.

Not much was expected when the team left for Germany, but the Malaysian players played out of their skins to win four of their seven matches.

“No one gave us any hope going into the tournament, but we surprised everyone. We finished third in the group with nine points – four victories, one draw and two defeats,” recalled Sri Shan.

“The defeats were to West Germany and Pakistan, the two teams that contested the final.

“We lost 1-0 to Germany. They went on to win the gold medal.

“It was a missed opportunity. The whole team was sad we failed to reach the semifinals, even though no one expected us to do anything before we left.”

Sri Shan said this during a talk show Borak Tokyo Bersama Christopher Raj on Monday. Also appearing on the show was Twentytwo13 executive editor Graig Nunis, who shared his experience of covering the 2016 Rio Olympics. The show was hosted by public relations practitioner, Christopher Raj.

(From left): Sri Shan, Christopher and Nunis share their views the show.

Nunis also said he was sad that hockey and football, the two most popular team sports, failed to qualify for the Olympics.

The last time hockey did so was in 2000, while football last qualified in 1980. Malaysia, however, joined the boycott initiated by the United States to protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

He also said Malaysian sports needed to relook its grassroots plans.

“We spend so much money, but the results are disappointing. Sometimes, we get politicians involved, who are only in it to get their names in the media. The same, too, for some royals,” he said.

“We need people who have the best interests of sports at heart and spend the funds wisely.

Nunis added Malaysia should focus on sports like archery, sailing, and other sports that have been producing results, but are not that well-funded.

“The national sports associations should find funding and not depend on government money,” he added.

Tagged with: