KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia have caught the eyes of the world’s best after their exploits at the men’s World Hockey League Semi-Final in London in June.
The impressive fourth-place finish earned Malaysia a place in the 2018 World Cup Finals in India. Now, a number of top teams – including world No. 3 Germany and No. 4 Holland – will come to Kuala Lumpur for friendlies.
Four-time Olympic champions Germany are set to come in November en route to India for the World Hockey League Final in India from Dec 1-10.
Holland, two-time Olympic gold medallists, are planning to come in January for a training-cum-match series with Malaysia.
Said national coach Stephen van Huizen: “The Dutch normally go to South Africa for their training stint. But this time they have turned to Malaysia. We are still in the discussion stage about the friendlies.”
Besides Germany and Holland, world No. 1 Argentina have also proposed a bilateral series with Malaysia early next year.
“Argentina want to come here for matches and are seeking a reciprocal visit for our team. It’s in the planning stage and the decision is up to the MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC),” said Stephen.
“It’s good that the big teams are taking Malaysia seriously. It augurs well for our team. It means we get top-class matches at our doorstep.
“2018 is a big year for our team as we’ve two major goals.
“The first is the Asian Games (in August in Indonesia) as we’re targeting the gold to qualify automatically for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“The second one is the World Cup Finals in India (from Nov 24-Dec 16).
“Before these two tournaments, we also have the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (in Ipoh in March) and Commonwealth Games (in Gold Coast, Australia, in April),” added Stephen.
Stephen’s team are now preparing for the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games from Aug 19-30. After that, Malaysia will play in the Asia Cup in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from Oct 12-22.