Time for pied piper Arul to move on

KUALA LUMPUR: TAKE a bow, coach A. Arul Selvaraj and then lead eight of your men into pastures like the Pied Piper of Hamelin in the Middle Ages.

The New Straits Times, as well as print and electronic mainstream media, have been backing the Speedy Tigers for more than a year leading to the Oman Olympic Qualifier.

It was easier for Arul the Piper to lead his team and tear apart China, as well as Pakistan, and play in the semi-finals where obviously Malaysia would meet New Zealand for the 24-year elusive Olympic pot of gold at the end of the Oman rainbow.

But just like after playing at the Chennai Asian Champions Trophy, and then "losing" to the same Asian teams and finishing sixth to crawl into Oman's last chance, you, Arul, have been giving the Press the same excuses via pre-recorded post-match interviews.

And your mantra was "We had better circle penetration and shots on target in every match."

After beating Canada 3-1 in a shootout, you said: "The stats show that Malaysia were better in all the matches in circle penetration, shots at goal, and ball handling.

"Ball handling and possession were also more than other teams, but we could not win because our final touches were not meticulous."

You sang the same song after the Asian Games followed by three (3-2, 2-0, 3-0) defeats during the New Zealand Tour and sang your mantra again after losing a crucial Olympian moment.

Clueless were many of your players, at least four in every match, and leaving the load on seven on the field to carry a heavy load for the nation on their backs while trying to attack and defend at the same time.

Nothing personal about coach Arul, because I have been covering you as a player and now as a coach in my three decades of reporting for the NST. Take a bow and let others with "younger" ideas lead a younger team to future podiums.

And while blowing your pipe, take along eight others into a ship leading them to Malaysia Hockey League pastures, for that is where they belong now.

Nothing personal, only the truth from a field hockey observer as these 30-year-old plus players were in their diapers when I was already watching schools, age-groups, seniors as well as world-wide hockey.

The over-the-hill eight are goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman (32), Ramadan Rosli (32), Marhan Jalil (33), Fitri Saari (30), Firhan Ashari (30), Razie Rahim (36), Faiz Jali (31) and Shahril Saabah (29).

Like when Swedish pop group ABBA sang when they broke up: "Thank You For The Music."

Let's move on.

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