PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) want the Speedy Tigers to go for gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
Their president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal said the team’s statistics at the recent World Cup is a clear indication they are on the right track towards the goal.
Subahan said, as Asian Games champions, they could earn a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“We will regroup and become stronger to win the Asian Games gold and qualify for the Olympics. This is our target and we are on the right track,” said Subahan, adding that Malaysia have failed to make it to the biggest multi-sport event in the world since the 2000 Sydney Games.
“After the World Cup, we believe we can take on any team in the world. We can take on India and also South Korea (in the Asian Games),” he said.
“I think we’ve got a bright future. We have the quality to give a few more countries a run for their money.”
At the World Cup, South Korea were the best Asian team after reaching the quarter-finals while hosts India finished ninth. Malaysia came in 13th and Japan took 15th spot.
Based on team statistics, Malaysia were in the top five in five areas – interception (third), passes (fourth), blocks (fourth) and tackles (fifth) – among 16 countries while they were joint seventh in goals scored (14) and assists (10).
In terms of passes, Malaysia were only behind winners Germany, Belgium and Australia where they made a total of 1,673 passes while defender Razie Rahim topped the individual charts with 307 passes.
Captain Marhan Jalil proved he is still one of the fastest defenders despite being 32 as he had 17 interceptions, one lower than India’s Harman-preet Singh while Zulpidaus Mizun showed marked improvement as a first rusher, making 15 blocks to be joint third in the particular list.
National head coach A. Arulselvaraj provided another stat to prove that Malaysia were unlucky to miss out on a top eight finish.
“If we break the six matches into quarters, we played 24 in total and out of that, the players gave their all in 22 of them. The only two quarters where the performance dropped was the first two quarters against South Africa,” said Arulselvaraj.
“We played so well and should have been in the top eight if not for the format and our final position don’t reflect the true performance of the team. We won three and drew one (with Spain) and France (two wins and a draw) also suffered because of the format.
“I am really proud of the way the players fought and we have a team that can only get better and are heading towards our Asian Games goal with optimism.”
Malaysian goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman also held his own where he made 27 saves to be placed as the sixth best goalkeeper and all these statistics are set to be a boost for the Tigers.
The three areas where Malaysia need to improve are penalty corner conversion (four goals from 28), circle penetration (61) where they were 13th and had 42 shots at goal to be placed at No. 10.
Some may argue that statistics doesn’t win matches but Germany’s numbers are clear indication why they were able to dethrone fancied Belgium in the final.
Germany were at the top when it came to interceptions, blocks and passes and were among the top four in the other areas and no other team were as consistent as them.
The numbers should give the Tigers motivation to keep working hard and bridge the gap against the top nations.