‘Start London with a bang’
NATIONAL coach Stephen van Huizen wants a running start to the World League Semifinals in London on June 15-25, and not limp into the tournament like they did in the Azlan Shah Cup.
Malaysia were held 1-1 by Japan in their first match in Ipoh, and van Huizen does not want that to happen even though his charges will face World No 1 and Olympic champions Argentina first in London.
The national players’ worst game in Ipoh was a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of World No 2 Australia, while they were edged out 1-0 by Britain and New Zealand but beat India 1-0.
And in the classification, they beat Japan 3-1 for fifth spot.
“Overall we did not lose badly in the group stage, and if we were a little more sharper, the results would have been better,” said van Huizen.
The main “problem” was that the boys underwent a strenuous weights and speed running before the tournament.
“We did away with the hockey sticks and did weights and speed runs (400 metres) before the tournament as we are actually gearing up for London.
“That’s why we were not sharp in the semi-circle where the last touch was missing. However, in the next four weeks we will work on sharpness and penalty corner conversions.”
Malaysia used to be dangerous in penalty corners but fared miserably in the Azlan Shah Cup where they could only execute three goals – even though they won an average of more than five penalty corners in every match.
And once in London, van Huizen has arranged for two friendlies against Canada and the England back-up squad and is looking for at least another.
Malaysia are in Group A with Argentina, England, South Korea and China.
Group B is made up of India, Pakistan, Scotland, Netherlands and Canada.
In London, Malaysia must finish topfour in the group stage to play in the quarter-finals, and then try and finish in the fifth-sixth bracket to book their spot in the World Cup.
National hockey coach Stephen van Huizen.