The previous partnership of Tai Beng Hai and Nor Saiful Zaini Nasiruddin worked doubly hard to weed out the bad hats from the team. It resulted in an improved performance and greater team spirit leading to the silver medal in the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010. Gold medal would have assured Beng Hai and his charges an automatic ticket to the London Olympics and possibly an extension to their contract, but alas, God had other plans.
Failure to qualify was followed by the damning media comments on Beng Hai's report. Subsequently I came up with Nothing wrong with Beng Hai's report. By then three names had already cropped up to replace Beng Hai - Ric Charlesworth, Revington and Paul Gaudoin. Read here. Revington, a South African who pitched his tent in Ireland before quitting in May, was unveiled by the MHC recently.
Speaking on Astro Arena's Kafe Sukan recently, Revington - the fourth foreigner to be handling the team after Terry Walsh (1990-94), Volker Knapp (1995-98) and Paul Lissek (1998, 2001-2004), said:
"From the history point of view, I've played against Malaysia a lot of times, I believe there is talent and ability here."
Having spent 21 days in London covering the Olympics, Akbar Sahari conducted the interview with Revington in English, not bad...
Revington and Arul come as a package, with the latter eager to share his knowledge with his fellow Malaysians after six years on the road with South Africa and Ireland.
"Having garnered the experience of coaching hockey in three continents, it has always been my dream to return and give something back to the national team. My wife (K. Soloseeni, former national 800m runner) influenced my decision that it was time to come back."
Revington remains fully aware of the media glare.
"Having been at a couple of tourneys, I know the Press ask a lot of questions. When the comments centre on the failure to qualify for the Olympics, it increases the pressure on the group.
"A lot of people say to me there is a big media influence et cetera but I don't think there is that much difference with other places, there have always been expectations. The bottomline is, I know what I am supposed to do."
He admitted the national squad were well organised but emphasised on the need to embrace a slightly different style that requires defending and attacking in numbers.
"My immediate target is to qualify for major events. Absolutely critical is the road to Rio 2016. But there is the danger of forgetting the minor details that need tweaking today. We need to inculcate the winning culture, we have to keep on winning as consistently as possible and not take every game for granted. In harping on the failure to qualify for the World Cup or the Olympics, it is also essential to focus on development."
Revington is also ready to cope with the media's intense scrutiny.
"When I wake up in the morning, I would not be thinking of what the Press has been writing. My job is to turn quality players Malaysia has into truly world-class players. I love coaching and I get excited with the vision of transforming the players's fortunes and they are not far from it. The media and the pressure come with the job.
"My job is to make sure I produce the goods so that the media can write positive things about the team, as long as I do my job correctly.
Having observed the quality dished out in the ongoing MHL, Revington said:
"Credit to the coaches for producing the players but they are not playing enough top level matches on a long period."
On his selection policy, Revington said:
"The national side team will field the strongest players, at the end of the day we are here to win, so in my simple selection policy, there is no favouritism. I will pick players regardless of age. Although the juniors won the Asia Cup, we should not forget some of the older players who can pass on their experience to the younger set of players. We need to have the balance right, the juniors playing with the older guys, as a natural progression."
Read also the NST here and the Star here
Had the pleasure of covering Walsh from the sidelines. A good coach who managed to blend together the talent of Mohamed Abdul Hadi with the discipline of Nor Saiful Zaini. MHF set a target of finishing sixth in Barcelona'92 but Malaysia ended up ninth.
Although his critics claim his team-first approach stifled the natural ability of our players, Paul Lissek's biggest legacy is the silver medal in KL'98...he was first offered the job in 1994 following Walsh's departure but having taken up the role of director of coaching with Germany, he proposed his protege
Volker Knapp... once slapped with the Turkey of the Year title by the Malay Mail. Knapp's days in KL came to an end after Malaysia finished 11th out of 12 teams in the 1998 World Cup in Utrecht
If Revington and Arul failed to rev the team up, waiting in the wings are the duo Dharma Abdullah and Mirnawan Nawawi who guided the juniors to the Asia Cup title in Malacca