Friday, September 19, 2014

Arul: Four quarters fine with us..

By Devinder Singh

INTERIM national hockey coach Arul Selvaraj believes the new four-quarter format to be used for the Asian Games will play to Malaysia’s strengths.
The national team are looking to win the men’s hockey gold for the first time which also brings with it qualification for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
The new game duration — four quarters of 15 minutes each — compared to the usual two halves of 35 minutes will place a greater premium on speed.
Arul said that could work to Malaysia’s advantage as they look to press the opposition for shorter periods.
“It’s a format that is gaining acceptance in Europe though it is still new to Asia,” he said upon arriving in Incheon yesterday.
“We have tried it out a few times and the game I think will see more attacking play and goals.
“You will certainly see more opportunities and with 15 minutes in each quarter, you can go all out and send your subs in more often, unlike the 35-minute halves where the pace can be slower.”
With each team limited to a roster of 16 players, Arul decided to pick just one goalkeeper in S. Kumar.
“I don’t think of ‘ifs’ in making the choice or you will never be able to make a decision,” he said of the risk in bringing a solitary goalkeeper.
“The players are aware of their roles and they know they have to protect the goalkeeper. Hockey goalkeepers are the most protected anyway with all their padding.
“In this format, I need legs to win matches and the players know what they are capable of doing.”
Malaysia open against Singapore tomorrow before facing Bangladesh, South Korea and Japan in Pool A.
The national team won silver four years ago in Guangzhou, after a 2-0 defeat by Pakistan in the final, in their best finish at the Asian Games yet.