Monday, August 2, 2010

Coach settles on side with Asian Games in mind

NATIONAL hockey coach Stephen van Huizen has decided on the Commonwealth Games team composition after watching his charges play matches in China and Australia.

However, he will leave it to the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) to decide if it wants to stick to its decision of sending a mixed team to New Delhi, while the best in Malaysia will be rested for the Asian Games.
"After playing matches in China and Australia, I have a clearer picture on the team's capabilities. I was told by MHF to prepare a mixed team (of youth and seniors) for the Commonwealth Games because the main target is to do well in the Asian Games.

"However, if there are any changes in the plan, I am ready for it," said Van Huizen.

In New Delhi Malaysia are in a virtually hopeless situation as they have been grouped with defending champions Australia, Pakistan, India and Scotland. In Group B are England, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago.
The Asian Games draw has yet to be made by the Asian Hockey Federation. The Commonwealth Games does not offer a ticket to anywhere, while a gold medal in the Asian Game earns direct entry into the 2012 London Olympics.

And MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had stressed in its last council meeting that the target is a gold medal in the Asian Games.

Van Huizen and his men will next head for France to play in a Five-Nation involving France, Ireland, Poland and Scotland.
"Our highest achievement in the Asian Games to date is bronze and we will again have to beat higher ranked teams like South Korea, Pakistan and India to achieve the target.

"And if we fail, we will have to go through a qualifier where there will again be a higher ranked team than us to beat. In short, we are working towards an Asian Games gold, but it will not be easy," said Van Huizen.

When in Europe -- from mid-August -- Malaysia will also play friendly matches against Germany, while matches against other strong teams are being discussed.

Read more: NST

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