KUALA LUMPUR: Two Malaysia hockey players have taken the bold step of joining the South Korean national team's training session for two weeks.
The duo, skipper S. Kuhan and fellow defender Mohamed Amin Rahim will leave for Seoul on April 12 and will follow the training sessions conducted by Korean coach Jeon Jae-hong. The Koreans are considered one of the fittest teams in world hockey and their meteoric rise in the international rankings are due to this aspect of their game.
Kuhan said yesterday he had inquired from Jae-hong about the Korean style of training during last week's Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Ipoh,
“The coach then invited me to join them during their centralised training sessions. After some discussions and consultations with the national team management I have decided to take up the offer.
“Amin will also join me and we will leave on April 12,'' Kuhan said yesterday.
At the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh the Malaysians came out last and the lack of fitness was one of the reasons for their below-par display.
Kuhan said it was not right to just blame fitness for their defeat, as there were other factors as well.
“There is no need to go into that. I'm excited at the prospect of training with the Koreans, as it will give us an insight into their training method. It will allow us to see what they are doing in training and understand their training culture as well. It is good gesture on their part to take us in and I'm sure that the experience will benefit both of us.
“It opens up a whole new challenge for me,'' said Kuhan.
The Malaysians, like the Koreans, are preparing for the July Champions Challenge in South Africa. But for the Malaysians their long-term goal is the Olympic qualifier in March next year.
This is the first time Malaysians will train with the Koreans although the national team have undergone the Korean style of training before. In 2001, the national team had a training stint in Korea under the guidance of former Korean coach Kim Sang-ryul.
Kuhan said it is likely that the Koreans style of training would be different in terms of its intensity.
“Jae-hong felt that he can help me and said that the training style is totally different.
“That is why I would like to give this stint a try. We can also pick up their set-piece moves as well but the main priority is the physical aspect of the training.
The Malaysia hockey team will begin their next phase of training on Monday. Kuhan and Amin will join the team for the first week before leaving for Korea.
Next month the national squad will leave for Germany for a short training stint and Test matches against European teams.
When the team return from this stint they will join their respective clubs for the Malaysian Hockey League tournament.
For Kuhan the MHL will present another Korean connection in the form of forward Kang Keon-wook who is his teammate at Sapura.