I use the word "proper" because the effects would have been devastating to Malaysian hockey if we had not become Champions. On world ranking we are above all the other teams that participated and therefore it is a great morale boaster for the team and also for Malaysian hockey that we topped the tournament. In that sense the hockey lads in Paris did their job and therefore congratulations is the order of the day.
The other question that would arise is whether one is happy with the performance of the lads? This is a fundamental question to be answered before we get carried away with winning the tournament. I ask this question based on the following rationale:
- Malaysia is the highest world ranking team in the tournament.
- Malaysia has been on centralised training for the past few months for the Commonwealth and Asian Games in comparison to the other teams.
- The Malaysian team had warm-up tours to China, Australia and Europe before the Paris tournament.
Effectively what it means is that we were probably the "most prepared" team at the tournament. Therefore winning this tournament should be a normal phenomenon like "day following night and night following day".
The more important question we should ask is whether the performance was convincing. The goal margins of victory Malaysia had against Poland, Scotland and France does not bring great joy to any hockey analysts. Moreso if we take account of the margin of our defeat with Ireland. In summary, taking account of the preparation the other teams had put in in comparison to Malaysia's training phases, the performance of our lads is definitely lacking and there is plenty, and i mean plenty, of room for major improvements.
This in a way begs another question ie whether we have the time to make that mark improvement before the Commonwealth and Asian Games? This question has to be considered by the team management because at both the Games, the best teams and higher ranking teams would be there and they would be much more prepared than the teams that participated at the Paris tournament. As i had stated previously, that is going to be the "real" test and will our hockey lads be able to escalate their performances to a level that they are medal contenders?
WELL! it is important we celebrate the Paris success so long as we understand that victory would be "hollow" unless we set it as the start of the journey for far better things to come, provided we recognise the issues at hand and address them properly. Well done Malaysia and Stephen Van Huizen.