Is Malaysian hockey in desperate times? I ask this question because i believe that in desperate times, desperate measures are taken. Therefore is the recall of retired international like Jiwa Mohan, an act of desperation by the management of the national team.
My first thought is that this is a crazy thing to do especially as the national team has already been training together for nearly 4 months and having done the South Korean tour plus the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament. It would seem that the coaches had come to this realisation at such a late stage, that a player of Jiwa Mohan's status is required i.e 3 weeks before the commencement of Asia Cup.
What worries me, is whether a last minute inclusion of Jiwa Mohan would disrupt the team spirit and structure. The hockey lads have been working out as a team and when someone comes and takes over one of their friends place, would this go down well with the rest?
Further the coaches are assuming that Jiwa Mohan is in "tip top" condition. I do not know if the team management have been in communication with the club he is playing for in Australia, to determine his performance level. Surely before MHF gets him back to Malaysia, it would be wise also to ask the Western Australian Sports Institute to assess his fitness and recovery levels. I think MHf should not wait and then become pro-active only once he is Malaysia.
Now itself i must caution the coaches that if Jiwa Mohan does not play to expectation or creates major fumbles in the Asia Cup, then the coaches must face the onslaught consequences. No! i am not threatening anyone except to alert them.
Having given one side of the argument, we must now look at the other side and see through the eyes of Beng Hai and Saiful, the national coach and his assistant respectively. They are obviously not shaking their legs, sitting down and just collecting their salaries. Given the challenge to handle the national squad, they too have a destiny to fulfill. They have started on the right track but the key question is whether they have sufficient quality players. In Malaysian context maybe but pitted against international teams, there are glaring weakness.
It is probably in this context that Beng Hai & Saiful maybe recalling Jiwa Mohan. Afterall he is still playing competitive hockey and the presumption is he must be fit. Further he had just retired from international hockey and the advantage is that he has played with most of the current players. Therefore fitting into the team is not an issue.
The coaches believe that Jiwa Mohan is a good penalty shot specialist and he is a versatile player. In fact he would become a major asset to the team. Jiwa Mohan is a hard working and has tremendous fighting spirit. He would add that extra "kick" to the team.
Honestly, i think recalling Jiwa Mohan is a wise decision by the coaches, as it would sent a message that players cannot take things for granted. Nobody is indispensable and if it means any time other players have to be recalled, the coaches have that right. Players must know that there is competition for places in the national squad.
I think what is important is for Beng Hai & Saiful to get they team ready for the Asia Cup and perform to the level that would truly make Malaysians proud of our boys.