KUALA LUMPUR: The national hockey team are planning a three-week centralised training stint in Utrecht, Holland, in August as part of their final preparations for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
National chief coach K. Dharmaraj believes that the stint will be good as they will get to play 14 or 15 matches against top clubs.
He believes the time has come to look at various other ways to prepare for meets, as centralised training at home does not give players the quality sparring they need.
“Holland has all the necessary facilities for us to train and also the right kind of opposition to play matches against on an almost daily basis.
“The clubs in Europe are preparing for their European club championships and they are all ready to play matches against visiting teams.
“Thus, it will benefit us greatly as we can train and have games to test the players and also learn from the top stars in Europe. Many of these clubs also have foreign players in their ranks,” he said.
This will be the first time a centralised stint will be held outside the country.
The Asian Games, from Sept 19-Oct 4, acts as a qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympics and only the winner will gain an automatic berth. Malaysia have set the gold medal as their target.
Dharmaraj said that the Holland stint has been planned out and the team are just waiting for the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) to finalise the arrangements.
“The plan is to take 24 players to Holland and the final selection of players will be done at the end of the stint.
“The players we take to Holland will be the ones who will vie for a place in the Asiad team,” he added.
Dharmaraj said that the 24 players for the final phase of training will be named after the Commonwealth Games.
“Glasgow is important for the fringe players as it is a chance for them to prove themselves and make the list of 24. We have 30 players in the training squad and 16 will be on the plane to Glasgow. Six players face the cut on our return,” he said.
There is no target set for the team at the Commonwealth Games.