IT may sound ambitious but Malaysian ice hockey captain Gary Tan has reasons to look forward to a golden performance in the International Ice Hockey (IIHF) Challenge Cup of Asia starting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates tomorrow.
Tan said the team, including three foreign-based Malaysians, was well prepared for the challenge in Abu Dhabi.
“The players are strong - physically and mentally - after undergoing an intensive training programme. Thanks to the National Sports Institute (NSI) who had drawn a regimental physical training schedule. The players’ skills has improved tremendously and we are playing with better co-ordination and understanding.
“Based on these factors, we certainly are confident of a better outing than last year,’’ said Tan after the squad’s final training session at the Pyramid Ice.
In last year’s championships held in Hong Kong, Malaysia won a silver medal after finishing second to Taiwan.
Malaysia’s Sweden-based Loke Ban Kin was voted the Most Valuable Player.
Loke, who is also active in the Swedish ice hockey league, has returned to join the Malaysian team for the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia.
The other two foreign-based players are Chew Jeen Sern (Australia) and Jamil David Ahmad Mokhtar (Switzerland) .
The Malaysia Ice Hockey Federation (MIHF) has named a 18-member squad for the championship. The players were selected from a pool of 40.
The sponsors of the Malaysian contingent are Dexion Asia, Sport Planet, Dragon-i & Canton-i, Mammoth Empire, Sunway Pyramid and Etihad Airways.
In Abu Dhabi, Malaysia is in Group A with Thailand, Mongolia and India while Group B has Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and the UAE.
After the preliminary rounds, the top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals. The MIHF has set a top three target but Tan believes the team would be able to return with the gold medal.
The Malaysian contingent
Chef de mission: Datuk Lee Hwa Beng
Team manager: Susan Loh
Coach: Patrick Michael MacDonald
Sport Therapist: Ronald Fauvel
Players: Tan Khia Peng, Haniff Mahmood, Moi Jia Yung, Abdul Hakim Ismail, Ahmad Bazli Abu Safian, Aris Samad Yahaya, Chew Jeen Sern, Jamil David Ahmad Mokhtar, Jeremy Chee Tack Hoong, Khairil Azrul Azizan, Khoo Seng Chee, Loke Ban Kin, Mau Yik Woon, Reezman Isa, Tan Kay Seng, Yap Eu Jin, Teh Ton Tee, Tengku Muhd Azlly Tg Abdillah.