Sport

Published: Tuesday December 24, 2013 MYT 9:22:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday December 24, 2013 MYT 9:42:52 PM

Women’s hockey: Asia, here we come

The victorious women's hockey team which won gold in the recently concluded Myanmar SEA Games, aims to be among the top four nation's in Asia next year. - BERNAMA

The victorious women's hockey team which won gold in the recently concluded Myanmar SEA Games, aims to be among the top four nation's in Asia next year. - BERNAMA

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia can now look forward to breaking the stranglehold of the top four teams – China, South Korea, Japan and India – in women’s hockey in Asia.

Senior vice-president of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Dr Shamala Subramaniam firmly believes it is a possibility following the rousing gold-medal performance at the just concluded SEA Games in Myanmar, where the team created a world record by thrashing Cambodia 36-0 in a group match. 

They went on to beat Thailand 6-1 in the final, and in the process scored a total of 72 goals from six matches.  

She said the team have progressed steadily under national coach Mohd Nasihin Nubli Ibrahim and are now set to make headway in 2014.

“It’s always been a four-team show in Asian women’s hockey with China, South Korea, Japan and India the main players. But we feel it’s time we mount a serious initiative to break into that top-four bracket and make our presence felt in Asia,” said Shamala.

World No. 21 Malaysia are the highest ranked team from the Southeast Asia region but are fifth in Asia behind world No. 7 China, South Korea (No. 8), Japan (No. 9) and India (No. 13).

Malaysia will get the chance to gauge where they really stand against the four Asian giants at next September’s 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

Malaysia’s best finish at the Games was in 1982 in New Delhi where they earned a bronze. They finished fourth in Seoul four years later but went on a 20-year hiatus before making a return to the Games in 2006 in Doha where they finished fifth. Malaysia also finished fifth at the last edition in 2010 in Guangzhou, China.

Malaysia also finished fifth at the recent Women’s Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

“Our target is to achieve a semi-final finish at the Asian Games and we’ll be using the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July to prepare for the Asiad. We want to break the fifth-place barrier and I truly believe we can do it if we can carry on the momentum we have built up this year,” said Shamala.

Besides that, Shamala said that young talents Surizan Awang Noh, 19, and Fatin Shafika Mohd Shukri ,18, have galvanized the squad.

“Surizan and Fatin Shafika, who have come into the side recently, have really motivated the squad. It was Surizan’s goal against China in the Asian Champions Trophy (in November) that made the players realise that they can match the top teams. That and their performance at the SEA Games have put them in good stead for the future.”

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