Decision week for van Huizen
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