THE Malaysian hockey team will return today from a disastrous Four-Nation tournament in Tokyo but coach Roelant Oltmans feels it was well worth the investment and the trip as Malaysia have a bright chance of qualifying for next year’s Olympics.
After playing nine matches in Europe, with a high of beating Germany 4-2, the Malaysian team went to Japan, losing 6-0 to India, 3-1 to Japan and 3-1 to New Zealand before a 6-1 hammering by Japan in the bronze play-off.
In Europe, Malaysia paraded their best 20 players but made eight changes in Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Razie Rahim, Faizal Saari, Fitri Saari, Adrian Andy Albert, Najib Abu Hassan, Joel van Huizen and Arif Syafie Ishak for the team to Japan.
And their replacements were Hafizuddin Othman, Nabil Fiqri, Luqman Nul Hakim Ahmad Shukran, Najmi Farizal Jazlan, Amirol Aideed Arshad and Ashran Hamsani.
Oltmans said the Tours of Europe and Japan were arranged with an aim to select the best players for the Olympic qualifier in October, and he was aware of the risk of not performing well at the tail end.
The Malaysian hockey team will return today from a disastrous Four-Nation tournament in Tokyo but coach Roelant Oltmans feels it was well worth the investment and the trip as Malaysia have a bright chance of qualifying for next year’s Olympics. - NSTP/ASYRAF HAMZAH
“From the start, we knew that we will face risks at the tailend of the Tour because it will demand a super effort to maintain a consistent physical as well as mental strength.
“All the players, however, did not pick up injuries in Europe and Japan, and they knew that the Tours were arranged as part of a selection process to pick the best for the Olympic qualifier.
“They were not only tested in tactical aspects, but mental as well as physical and we now have good data and information on the best teams in the world as well,” said Oltmans.
He also explained what happened in the four straight defeats in Tokyo.
“The Tokyo team had 12 players who played nine matches in Europe and they had to get used to seven hours of jetlag inside three days and two nights, something that is almost impossible to adjust to in such a short time.
“That is one of the reasons the team did not do well in their opening match against India (lost 6-0) and in their last match against Japan (lost 6-1). The players gave their all in the first half and displayed their best performance in the tournament but it sapped their enegry in the seccond half and we were hit hard.
“Even though we let in too many goals, more than I expected, but I believe from all the information we gleaned from the arranged Tours, the Malaysian team have a bright chance of qualifying for the Olympics.”