Sunday, August 29, 1993

We quit!

YESTERDAY'S black day for Malaysian hockey marked the end of an era and
the beginning of another, with the teams failure to qualify for the World
Cup next year.
There is going to be a change of guard in the team as several senior
players are quitting, having made known their intentions earlier if
Malaysia failed to gain a ticket to Sydney.
Skipper Nor Saiful Zaini, veteran goalkeeper Ahmad Fadzil and centrehalf
Sarjit Singh said yesterdays defeat to Belgium was the end of their
national career.
"This is it ... I've had enough," said Saiful after the match. "I was so
confident we would qualify for the World Cup, but never expected our
dreams to end like this.
"No more. This is the end."
Said Ahmad: "Enough is enough. I have been at it for far too long."
Other seniors in Abdul hadi, Gary Fidelis and Soon Mustapha had also
expressed a desire to quit the team if they failed to qualify for the
World Cup.
All of them yesterday said there is nothing left to look forward to,
having failed to win a berth. They pointed out that they would be too old
for the next World Cup.
Among the team here in Poznan, only `keeper' Ahmad has appeared in the
World Cup Finals, in Bombay in 1981 - the last time Malaysia qualified for
the tournament.
Several players who had quit the national team earlier, had been
persuaded to make a return for this qualifying round. Among them were Nor
Saiful, Soon and even Lim Chiow Chuan who had retired after the Beijing
Asian Games.
Among the reasons the players cited for resigning then, was that they
were not well taken care of by the Malaysian Hockey Federation.
The MHF came up with incentive schemes but another storm brewed after
the Champions Trophy when they paid out only RM100 to the players.
However, the situation was calmed and the players were certainly in the
right frame of mind when they arrived in Poznan. Still, the MHF could have
come up with better and more lucrative incentives should the team qualify
for the World Cup.
Most of the seniors here said they were very keen about wanting to
qualify for Sydney. But the disappointment of failure, and their age
factor were the main reasons for announcing their retirement.

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