Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How good is Hawgood?


AUSTRALIAN Neil Hawgood has emerged as the foreign candidate singled out by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) to coach the national team next year.

Hawgood, 52, announced his desire to coach a senior men’s team in Asia following his decision not to renew his contract with India’s women’s team last month.

He is best remembered for

guiding India to the bronze medal at the Incheon Asian Games in October and the Junior World Cup in 2013.

It is learnt that the offer from Malaysia was the reason he decided not to continue coaching India.
The agreement to hire Hawgood, however, has hit a snag as the understanding to hire him was reached when Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong was still the director-general of the National Sports Council (NSC) before Ahmad Shapawi Ismail replaced him recently.

MHC officials met Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin recently over the hiring of Hawgood but it is learnt that the minister did not give his go-ahead due to outstanding issues.

Despite the development, it is said that MHC will announce the appointment of a foreign coach this week.

MHC president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who favours a foreigner to train the senior team, was supposed to reveal the identity of the new coach last weekend but postponed it due to the floods in Pahang.

The national trainees are now under interim coach Tai Beng Hai, who replaced Arul Selvaraj, whose temporary appointment was until the Asian Games.

The other coaches, who handled the senior team this year were South African Paul Revington and K. Dharmaraj.

Newly appointed NSC director-general Ahmad Shapawi claimed he is clueless about MHC’s intentions to hire Hawgood.

“I have neither received anything or got a phone call from MHC in regard to this matter.
“I may have a clearer picture when I punch in for the first time as director-general on Jan 5.

“I, however, heard that the MHC met the sports minister recently,” said Ahmad Shapawi yesterday.
Beng Hai, who is assisted by Stephen van Huizen, is preparing his 25-member squad for the World League Round Two in Singapore on Jan 17-25.

Malaysia are favourites to win the tournament which will feature Japan, Poland, Bangladesh, Fiji, Oman and Ukraine.

The team will play friendly matches against Poland on Jan 4 and 6 followed by a game with Bangladesh (unconfirmed) before Beng Hai names 18 players for the competition, which is part of the qualification process for the 2016 Olympics.



By AJITPAL SINGH  - NST

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