Before Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club's (KLHC) last match in the league with TNB at Malacca last week, KLHC were already Champions of the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) when they beat Sapura 1-0 at Johore Baru the week earlier. Now that the MHL gets into "knock out" stage ie quarter finals, KLHC must be the front runner for the "double".
Firstly we must congratulate KLHC for becoming Champions. I must state before the league commenced I had put my bet on KLHC. They had inherited the entire team from EY ie the 2008 Champions, save for some "window dressing" on the team management.
On paper, the team was literally made up of the majority national senior and junior players. Indeed there was confusion in KLHC as they had more players on their payroll than they could register. Rather then releasing them, KLHC still kept them and appointed them to various non-playing positions, thereby not giving the players the opportunity to play for the other teams in the MHL. Unquestionably, an "employer-employee" matter.
Even before the first"whistle" could be blown in the MHL, KLHC was embroiled in the aspect of coaches. KLHC's original coach ( part of the inheritance from EY) is "going places" and is now the national coach of the Project 2013 team. His current employer ie MHF, did not permit the national coaches and their assistants from coaching any of the MHL teams. This did not go down well with KLHC and they had to make "questionable" arrangements. Again insofar as MHF is concerned, like KLHC on the excess players, this is an unquestionable aspect of "employer-employee" matter.
The MHL should in theory be a "walk through" exercise for KLHC. Packed with more than sufficient national players they should not have problem with any of the teams. It is all a question of margin of win only. Unfortunately what looks good on paper may not necessarily be in practice. KLHC had to struggle in some of their 10 matches they played to secure the title. They drew with Maybank, who only have the pleasure of having a few retired internationals. They were stretched by Sapura before winning 1-0. Sapura in this match did not have the services of their 2 current star internationals. Finally on the last day of the league KLHC loss to TNB 4-3 after leading 3-1. The ambition of coming through unbeaten in the league was demolished on the last day.
The results of KLHC has a "pin-pointing" affect ie it provides an insight of the state of affair of Malaysian hockey. The good news is KLHC won the league but the damning point is they struggled despite all the national players they are carrying. It shows that Malaysian hockey is in a diabolical state and despite all the "questionable" arrangements with coaches the best is not seen in the players. KLHC may represent the "decaying" nature of Malaysian hockey. In fact in various "corners" it had been heard that the Malaysian players in the KLHC team were not committed to training and the games as expected of internationals. Excuses of "loss in concentration" provides good narration for kindergarten kids as their bedtime stories.
Seriously, if this can happen to KLHC, then the probability of it happening to the national team is very great. Therefore, can KLHC take pride with its success in the MHL when in fact they should have easily "sailed" through it. MHL is the major tournament in MHF calender and when KLHC "national" team struggles with lack of commitment, what hope is there for Malaysian hockey?