The hockey test match between hosts Holland (orange) and Malaysia at the Kyocera Stadium at the Hague - venue of the World Cup which starts on Saturday. Malaysia lost the Sunday test 8-2. - AFP
KUALA LUMPUR: It was not a good start for Malaysia in their first match at the Kyocera Stadium, the main venue of the hockey World Cup Finals, in The Hague, Holland.
Playing in a practice match on Sunday night, Malaysia were whipped 8-2 by hosts Holland.
“The pitch is new and quite bumpy. It will take us some matches to get used to it. The match was useful as we tried out all our players. We also tried out different combinations. The Dutch were good and certainly in a different class from us. It was a good practice for the players,” said national coach K. Dharmaraj.
Dharmaraj added that they would have two more training sessions on the pitch before their opening match against Australia on May 31.
The Kyocera Stadium is one of the two venues used for the Finals. The other is the GreenFields Stadium.
Malaysia will play Australia and England at the Kyocera Stadium. Malaysia’s other three Group A matches against Belgium, India and Spain will be at the GreenFields Stadium.
The Kyocera Stadium is the home ground of Dutch Division One football side ADO Den Haag. The Dutch season ended on May 4 and the following day the stadium was handed over to the hockey organisers. Work then started in replacing the grass with an artificial turf.
And in a space of 2½ weeks, the stadium was up and ready with the artificial turf all laid and transformed from a football venue into a top-flight hockey competition.
“It is just amazing that this is actually a football stadium and the Dutch managed to get it ready for the World Cup. The pitch is new.
“Like all new surfaces, there will be a little problem adjusting to it. But it will be the same for all teams,” said Dharmaraj.
Work on building the temporary second stadium, GreenFields, started in the middle of March. The stadium was officially handed over to the organisers at the end of April.
The GreenFields Stadium, which is next to the Kyocera Stadium, has a capacity of 5,000.
The men’s and women’s World Cup are held simultaneously at the two venues. The GreenFields Stadium will host two matches a day while the Kyocera Stadium will stage four matches daily.