‘Start Lon­don with a bang’

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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.

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