De­ci­sion week for van Huizen

New Straits Times - - Sport -

NA­TIONAL coach Stephen van Huizen has 23 play­ers in train­ing now, and will se­lect his fi­nal 18 for the World League (WL) Semi­fi­nals this week.

Amid the fast­ing month, the play­ers will un­dergo gym train­ing in the morn­ings and train after break­ing fast in the evenings to pre­pare for the World Cup qual­i­fier in London on June 15-25 .

“I have 23 play­ers in the train­ing squad and they will play two friendly matches against the devel­op­ment squad be­fore I se­lect the fi­nal 18,” said van Huizen.

The team will leave for London on June 7, and play three friendly matches against the Eng­land devel­op­ment squad, Wales and Canada be­fore open­ing their WL Semi­fi­nals match against World No 1 Ar­gentina on June 16.

Ten teams will fea­ture in the London meet, with the semi-fi­nal­ists as­sured of a spot in the World Cup in In­dia next year.

How­ever with dou­ble qual­i­fi­ca­tion, if hosts In­dia reach the semi­fi­nals and also from other con­ti­nen­tal qual­i­fi­ca­tions, the team that fin­ish sev­enth in London will also play in the World Cup.

Malaysia are in Group A with Ar­gentina, Eng­land, South Korea and China. In Group B are In­dia, Canada, Nether­lands, Pak­istan and Scot­land.

Malaysia played six matches in the Azlan Shah Cup and fin­ished fifth with two wins, one draw and three de­feats.

The team recorded a poor six­goal haul while nine were con­ceded.

Van Huizen said he is work­ing on more penalty cor­ner vari­a­tions, as he ex­pects a for­mi­da­ble chal­lenge from other teams in the fight for World Cup places.

“We have four drag flick­ers and they are work­ing hard to im­prove their ac­cu­racy and power,” said van Huizen.

The four penalty cor­ner flick­ers are Razie Rahim, Faizal Shaari, Shahril Saabah and Na­jmi Ja­zlan.

“We also need to im­prove on our strike force to get the field goals and also need to buck up on our de­fence.

“We must be well pre­pared for the tour­na­ment as our goal is to qual­ify for World Cup (in Bhubaneswar, In­dia next year),” said van Huizen. Jug­jet Singh

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