FAILURE: Beng Hai’s boys pay heavy price for opting to defend against marauding Irish
Ireland players celebrate after their 1-1 draw against Malaysia on Saturday
DUBLIN: MALAYSIA were guilty of defending for the last 10 minutes of the match, knowing very well that they needed a win to qualify for the final of the Olympic Qualifier in Dublin.
Playing at the capacity University College Dublin ground where 1,900 turned out to watch, Malaysia were never short of support as more than 300 of the crowd was from back home.
Malaysians studying and working in Dublin came prepared with the Jalur Gemilang, while the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHF) also had its 30-strong cheering crowd.
However, it was a sad moment for Malaysia not only on the pitch where they were edged out of the final in a 1-1 draw, but all the MHC officials, including president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, left immediately after the final whistle without speaking to the players.
Asian Hockey Confederation (AHF) president Sultan Azlan Shah, who had warned the players to be wary of the first and last 10 minutes of every match, also left disappointed.
The only officials who went down to the pitch were National Sports Institute CEO Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz and NSC official Ariffin Ghani.
The players were in tears as S. Kumar lamented the fact that this was his third personal failure at the Olympic Qualifiers.
Starting his career with the 2004 Madrid Qualifier side, Kumar then saw failure in the Kakamigahara Qualifier and yesterday was his third heartbreak.
A tearing Kumar said: "This is a very sad moment for me as I have failed for the third time in an Olympic Qualifier. However, we did play well but were up against 13 players (including the two umpires) and that took a toll on our game as our players were sent to the sin-bin for the softest of tackles.
"We also did not win a single penalty corner, even though from my experience, I know that we were eligible for three. That could have changed the scene here today (Saturday)."
Kumar, however, is willing to soldier on, if the management still needs him.
"If I can keep myself fit and am still relevant to the team set-up, I will not turn down a call-up," he said. " But it would be a bridge too far, as the next Olympics is in 2016 in Brazil, and age would have caught up with the 32-year-old player by then.