KUALA LUMPUR – National men’s hockey team coach Arul Selvaraj (pic) has no qualms about naming just one goalkeeper in the squad for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Arul said he was forced to make the bold decision due to the demand of the game which requires more attacking players to adapt to the system of fast attacking play.
“With the demands of the fast attacking play adopted by all teams, I need more attacking players rather than goalkeepers. To me, the prospect of the goalkeeper getting injured is less due to the limited movement in the goal area,” he said during the naming of the men’s and women’s teams for the Asian Games, at the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) office at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, here yesterday.
Arul said if goalkeeper S. Kumar suffered an injury, he could still name Mohammad Izad Hakimi as his replacement.
He added that the move was a strategy aimed at winning the gold medal and earning an automatic qualification to the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.
“If we win the gold, the road to the Olympics will be cleared but if we don’t, then we will have to face a difficult task by competing in the World League in India and Singapore,” he said.
Arul said Malaysia who are ranked world number 13, must beat Singapore and Bangladesh, win or draw against South Korea and beat Japan in Group A.
If Malaysia top Group A and move into the semifinals, India or Pakistan who are in Group B together with Oman, China and Sri Lanka might be their opponent.
In the 2010 Asian Games hosted by China in Guangzhou, Malaysia won a silver.
Meanwhile, women’s coach Mohd Nasihin Nubli Ibrahim expressed confidence that his charges would be able to create their own history by surpassing the semifinal target set by MHC.
“I have my own views and mission for the team that will be in Incheon. I am confident that the players will be able to pull off a surprise or two but I do not want to say anything that might put unnecessary pressure on the players.
“In my observation, the players have matured and more confident with their style of play in attack and defence,” he said.
Malaysia are drawn in Group A with China, India and Thailand while host South Korea head Group B with Japan, Kazakhstan and Hong Kong for company.
The Malaysian women’s team’s best achievement in the Asian Games was a bronze medal won at the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games in India. – Bernama