By Ajitpal Singh
THE national hockey team, who are on redemption in Guangzhou after their failure in the New Delhi Commonwealth Games, hope to start their Group A campaign with a convincing win over minnows Singapore at the Aoti Hockey Stadium today.
The match is an important one as Malaysia need to score goals to gain confidence before facing group favourites South Korea (Thursday), and followed by Oman (Friday) and China (Sunday).
Coach Stephen van Huizen knows that a huge victory against Singapore will boost the team’s chances of qualifying for the semi-finals.
“Everything is perfect here. The pitch and facilities are great. My boys gave a good account of themselves when we played Bangladesh (2-0) three days ago. They have adjusted with the pitch,” said van Huizen at the Aoti Hockey Stadium yesterday.
“We will not hold back against Singapore as winning big is our prime objective. It will help my boys gain confidence ahead of difficult matches.
“We do not have major injuries in the team. Everyone is eager to put up a good show. Of course our main goal is to qualify for the semi-finals before thinking ahead.
On whether the team have recovered from their disappointment in Delhi, van Huizen said all major weaknesses have been rectified prior to the Asian Games.
“We have managed to fix what was lacking in Kuala Lumpur. I think we have covered everything. It is now up to the boys to display their best performance in the Asian Games,” said van Huizen.
In Delhi, the national team only managed one win from five matches by scoring seven and conceding 17.
Van Huizen hopes his main goal-getters, among them, striker Tengku Tajuddin (pic), Azlan Misron, Faizal Shaari and penalty corner specialist Muhd Amin Rahim will be on form during the tournament.
“We need to score goals when chances come. And against Singapore and Oman, we need to pile up goals. Of course, we also need to do the same against favourites Korea and China,” he added.