KUALA LUMPUR: Coach Stephen van Huizen wants more options in the national men’s hockey team.
And he has asked the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) to add four more players to make it a 28-man training squad. The team now have 24 players and all of them are in the elite-only Podium Programme.
Van Huizen has invited four youngsters – Lukman Nul Hakim, Mohamed Najib Abu Hassan, Mohamed Ashran Hamsani and Mohamed Sufi Ismat Rozulmin – to join the team.
“These four players are in the development squad under the Kita Juara Programme and played in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games (in August). We would like to include them in the squad as a long-term measure,” said Van Huizen yesterday.
Van Huizen’s team, whose last assignment was the SEA Games, resumed training last week with the focus on fitness.
There will be another three weeks of training before the team break camp to allow the players to join their clubs for the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL). The one-month MHL is expected to start on Jan 6.
Van Huizen said the team’s first assignment next year will be the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in March.
“We are not going on any tours in the first part of the year. We will play some friendlies with the participating teams before the start of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup,” he added.
After the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Malaysia will compete in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, in April.
The top priority for Malaysia is the Asian Games in Indonesia in August. Malaysia want to win the gold to win an automatic berth to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The other assignments are the Asian Champions Trophy in October and the World Cup Finals in India in December.