Team may get to play friendly matches against Aussies after all

KUALA LUMPUR: After scrapping their 10-day Australian tour in favour of playing in the Afro-Asian Games, the national hockey team are now likely to play hosts to the Australians instead. 

The national team, who fared poorly in the Asia Cup last week had been scheduled to leave for Australia on Oct 10 and return on Oct 23.  

However, the trip was cancelled at the behest of the Indian Hockey Federation and the team will now compete in the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad, India from Oct 24 to Nov 1. 

However, Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary S. Satgunam said yesterday, the Australians were prepared to come to Malaysia for a few friendly matches in mid-October. 

“We will discuss with interim coach Yahya (Atan) about the friendly matches tomorrow (today) before accepting the Australian offer. 

“The matches will be important for the team's preparation for the Afro-Asian Games. If we accept the offer, then the matches will be played after the Razak Cup (from Oct 4-12),'' said Satgunam. 

The national team are expected to start their training for the Games on Oct 13 and they are expected to leave for India on Oct 22. 

Besides Malaysia, Asian teams playing in the Games are newly crowned Asia Cup champions India, Pakistan and South Korea.  

The four teams from African continent are South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Zimbabwe.  

Satgunam said they had not set any target for the Malaysian team at the Afro-Asian Games. 

“The national team are facing problems. There's no point setting any target,'' said Satgunam. 

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