Sunday, January 11, 2015
SEASONED campaigner Azlan Misron (pic) is a man of few words, as he prefers to do the talking on the pitch, but yesterday he broke the taboo with a fired up message for his mates who will be playing in the World League Round Two in Singapore on Jan 17-25.
Azlan, who has represented Malaysia for the last 14 years with a whopping 346 caps, wants his mates to give their all and erase all embarrassing 2014 records.
"Coach (Tai) Beng Hai has selected the best players and the team is mantap (solid) and we will be out to erase our embarrassing 2014 record which saw many bickering and in-fights which led to poor results on the pitch.
"I believe all the problems have been sorted out, and even though the MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) has set a top-two target in Singapore, my personal target is a gold medal," said the 31 year-old Azlan
2014 saw the worst of Malaysian hockey on and off the pitch, as player-power, star players, bungling officials, fighting coaches -- all led to a string of disastrous tournaments with the climax being when they lost 4-2 to 29th ranked Trinidad and Tobago at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
"That is all the past, and I am looking for a new beginning as the New Year is still fresh, to bring about drastic changes in the minds of our supporters by winning gold an the Singapore World League and qualify for the World League Semi-finals with dignity," said Azlan.
Azlan will also break a Malaysian hockey caps record, as he looks set to play in all six matches in Singapore to take his tally to 350.
Last year, the Perak-born played to form in the World Cup as well as the Asian Games, but was let down by some poor play from his mates.
"This time around we have a very good understanding and by going into the tournament as top-seeds (ranked 13th in World) we need to keep our reputation intact and what better way than win the gold medal.
"Having said that, we are not overconfident playing against lower ranked teams, but are confident with our own capabilities this time around," said Azlan.
Malaysia only have Oman (22nd), Ukraine (24th) and Singapore (36th) for company in Group A. In Group B are Japan (14th), Poland, (18th), Bangladesh (30th) and Mexico (35th).
The top-three teams in Singapore will advance to the World League Semi-finals at either Argentina or Belgium where tickets to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics await.