Yahya challenges players to get spot at World Cup

KUALA LUMPUR: Coach Yahya Atan threw down the gauntlet and told his players to qualify for their first women’s Indoor World Cup Hockey Tournament next year.

To make the cut, Malaysia must finish in the top two at the Indoor Asia Cup in Chonburi, Thailand from July 15-21.

The venue and dates of the World Cup have yet to be confirmed.

Yahya, who has been coaching the team since March this year, believes they have a fighting chance to qualify.

Nine teams will take part and Malaysia are drawn in Group B with Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan. Group A consists of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, the Philippines and Nepal.

Yahya added that only the hosts pose a strong challenge in their group.

“I’m optimistic my girls will enter the last four. We are likely to play either Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan for a place in the final,” said the former international.

“We have beaten Thailand and drawn with Kazakhstan before. I have 12 reliable players and I believe they will deliver.”

In preparation for the Asia Cup, they went to Perth to play four matches against the Western Australian team and lost them all.

Despite the defeats, Yahya said it was a good experience for his girls and he is confident they will put up a better show in Thailand.

“The opponents were too strong as they have been playing together for several years. Since returning, they have been progressing well.”

The team are also eyeing the gold medal at the Philippines SEA Games from Nov 30-Dec 11.

The squad Siti Zulaika Hussin, Nur Fatin Fatiah Azman, Ellya Syahirah Ellias, Nur Atira Mohd Ismail, Siti Arfah Mohd Nor, Siti Zalia Nasir, Siti Rozailah Syuhada Jilon, Iren Hussin, Qasidah Najwa Muhd Halimi, Nur Syuhada Suhaimi, Nur Afiqah Syahzani Azhar, Nor Asfarina Isahyifiqa Isahhidun.

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