KUALA LUMPUR: Help them get the penalty corners!
That was the call made by Malaysia hockey coach Roelant Oltmans to his forwards as he wants his penalty corner specialists Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim and Faizal Saari (pic) to hit the goals for Malaysia in the World Cup hockey in India starting on Nov 28.
He urged his forwards Norsyafiq Sumantri, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil, Nik Muhammad Aiman Nik Rozemi, Muhammad Firhan Ashari and Faizal to set up more chances to create penalty corner opportunities for the flickers.
“We have got flickers but my concern is getting penalty corners. The forwards need to be creative and create chances. Penalty corners will be essential in our game plan,” he said before the national team’s training session at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Both Razie and Faizal are in the top-10 list of drag flickers in the world and Oltmans believes the team should fully utilise direct flicks instead of set-pieces.
“I’m more than happy with their performances. Both of them have enough fire power. Accuracy is also there and that is why I encourage these players to go direct,” adding that there is another penalty specialist in the form of Syed Mohd Syafiq Syed Cholan.
Today, Malaysia will be playing New Zealand in a test match as part of their World Cup preparation. It will be the first of three test games with the Oceania side.
Roelant said the test matches were important for his charges to get match fitness and rhythm before flying to Bhubaneswar.
“As the name suggests, we are testing ourselves before the big tournament. We have worked on some areas and we would like to see if the players are adapting to the tactical changes during these test matches.
“We want to make sure that there is some clarity when players are on and off the ball,” he said.
Sixteen teams will feature in the World Cup and Malaysia will open their Group D campaign against three-time world champions Holland on Dec 1. The other matches are against four-time world champions Pakistan on Dec 5 and two-time world champions Germany on Dec 9.
Malaysia must finish top three in their group to play in the second round to qualify for the quarter-finals.
The squad will leave to India on Nov 25 and before the World Cup campaign starts, they will play a friendly match against France in Bhubaneswar.
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