THE inaugural Asian Champions Trophy will provide Malaysia with strong sparring partners from Sept 3-11 at the Mongolian city or Ordos.
The Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) mooted the tournament to give their member countries another chance, outside the Asian Games, to improve the standard of the sport in this region.
Asian Games champions Pakistan, newly crowned London Cup holders South Korea, India, China and Japan have confirmed for the tournament.
“It is another avenue for Asian teams to play in a highly competitive environment, and more importantly, it will give my players a chance to prepare early for the Champions Challenge I,” said chief coach Tai Beng Hai.
The Champions Challenge I will be held on Nov 26-Dec 4 in Johannesburg and Malaysia will be up against Canada, Argentina and Japan in Group B. Group A comprises New Zealand, South Africa, Belgium and Poland.
Malaysia finished second in the Asian Games, when they lost 2-0 to Pakistan in the final, and will now have to go through a qualifier early next year for the London Olympics.
“The Asian Champions Trophy and Champions Challenge will provide us with the matches needed to try and qualify for the Olympics,” said Beng Hai.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Juniors were held to a 2-2 draw by England in their Tour of Europe on Sunday.
Malaysia led the English twice, but let in a last minute goal to share points.
Syamin Yusof scored off a field attempt in the 20th minute, while the second goal was scored by Noor Faeez Ibrahim off a 45th minute penalty corner.
“We took the lead twice, but caved in, in the 69th minute as we failed to defend the slim lead. However, It was a better performance than against Netherlands (where Malaysia lost 5-1 and 6-0),” said Juniors team manager Mirnawan Nawawi.
For the record, England Juniors played Netherlands Juniors two weeks ago in a three-Test series and the Dutch won twice 3-1 and 2-1 before they drew 2-2.