Monday, May 12, 2014
THE National hockey players were feted to a lunch by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday, as they enter the last phase of preparations for the World Cup at the Hague, Netherlands beginning May 31.
For the record, Malaysia have qualified for the World Cup after last hosting it in 2002 in Kuala Lumpur.
Playing in Group A, world No 13 Malaysia will open accounts against world No 1 Australia, while the other opponents are England (No 4), Belgium (No 5), Spain (No 10) and India (No 8).
Najib reminded the players to maintain a high standard of discipline, and team-work.
“And don’t think too much about the rankings of the other teams in our group, what is important is to play to the coaches’ instructions,” said Najib.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah was also at the function.
Defender Baljit Singh Charun Singh, who was not selected for the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan recently, was also at the lunch with his fellow defender Razie Rahim.
“Even though I was not selected for the Champions Challenge I kept training on my own, and am ready to play in the World Cup if the coach gives me a call-up,” said Baljit.
In the absence of the two stalwart defenders, Baljit and Razie, Malaysia let in 17 goals and were beaten to the final by Canada.
“I did watch the Champions Challenge on television and it was very unfortunate for my team-mates to lose in the semi-finals to Canada as I believe we were the better team.
“And in the World Cup, we will be the lowest ranked team but I believe that everybody who is selected will give his best and make the country proud,” said Baljit who helped Malaysia finish fifth in the World League Semi-finals in Johor Baru which took Malaysia into the World Cup.
Razie was also at the Prime Minister’s lunch, and if hen gets the all-clear from the medical side, he will be a sure bet for the World Cup as not only do Malaysia need a good defender but also a deadly penalty corner flicker.
Malaysia will leave for the Haque on May 23, with the final 18 named a week earlier.