By Ajitpal Singh
FITNESS will be the priority when preparing the national players for the Asia Cup in Kuantan on May 9-16.
Malaysian Hockey Federation president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah believes the national players need to improve on their fitness in order to make impression in the Asia Cup.
"I'm very happy with the team's performance at the recent Azlan Shah Cup and I feel they have the ability to do well in the Asia Cup. The deciding factor will be fitness and I want them to put extra effort in training," said Tengku Abdullah yesterday.
Malaysia turned in a superb performance in the Azlan Shah Cup, only to lose 3-1 to India in Sunday's final in Ipoh.
"I want the players to be fully focused and physically and mentally fit for the Asia Cup. I will meet them soon," he added. The Asia Cup champions will earn an automatic ticket to next year's World Cup in India. The other top three finishers will compete in the qualifiers in November.
Tengku Abdullah is also pleased with national caretaker coach Tai Beng Hai's effort in preparing the players for tournaments.
"Beng Hai will be considered for the full-time job as national coach if the team do well in the Asia Cup. My personal target is to see them finish in the top-four bracket.
"But if the players show determination and grit then winning the Asia Cup will not be an impossible thing to achieve. The team's morale is high after the Azlan Cup and they should build on it for the tournament."