THE National hockey team celebrated a quiet Hari Raya in Hamburg yesterday, before getting into action and beating a top Division One German Club 2-1.
The team are in Germany for an international invitational which starts today involving the hosts, Belgium and Pakistan.
“We celebrated Raya with the Muslim players with whatever food we could cook, and also some cookies brought along by the players,” said coach Sarjit Singh by telephone from Hamburg.
“Team spirit is high, and I expect my men to give their best in all three matches.”
Malaysia were trailing the club side by a goal before Amin Rahim scored a penalty corner and Chua Boon Huat a field goal to seal a moral-boosting win.
“It has been raining and very cold since we arrived here, but the team are getting use to it. Pakistan, Belgium and Germany will field some new players, and we have a good chance of pulling off at least two upsets,” added Sarjit.
Germany are ranked No 1 in the world, Pakistan eighth, Belgium 10th, while Malaysia are a distant 15th.
“Germany (gold medallists) will field nine players from the Beijing Olympics because the others have study and work commitments,” said Sarjit.
“Even then, they will start as favourites, and I expect a tough time from them.”
Even with the Olympic medal in the bag, Germany will still have to finish among the top three in the European Championship next August to qualify for the New Delhi World Cup in 2010, which is why they are testing some new blood.
TODAY: Pakistan v Belgium, Malaysia v Germany.
TOMORROW: Malaysia v Pakistan, Belgium v Germany.
SUNDAY: Belgium v Malaysia, Pakistan v Germany.