KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) have set a lofty target for the national team in the seven-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup which begins in Ipoh on Thursday.
MHC want the national team, who failed to qualify for the Olympics, to reach the final.
Malaysia had a disappointing outing in the Olympic qualifier in Dublin in March, finishing third behind champions South Korea and hosts Ireland.
MHC senior vice-president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad said they want the national team to reach the final to redeem their pride after failing to qualify for the Olympics.
“We want them to give their best in Ipoh as this is the only tournament the national team will be playing in this year,” said Nur Azmi.
“This message was conveyed to the team by MHC president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.”
The Malaysian team’s morale is low after the Dublin flop and they face an uphill task to reach the final as they are lowest ranked team among the seven countries taking part.
Malaysia are ranked 13th in the world and they will be up against six teams who will feature in the Olympics. They are hosts Britain, Argentina, New Zealand, South Korea, India and Pakistan.
Malaysia last played in the final in 2007 and the team, under coach Sarjit Singh, lost 1-3 to Australia in the final.
“We have home ground advantage and the team will not be under pressure. I believe they can go all out to reach the final,” said Nur Azmi.
Meanwhile, Sultan Azlan Shah also received mock cheques totalling RM1.42mil from sponsors for the tournament yesterday.
Among the 21 sponsors were Astro (RM300,000), the Perak Government (RM200,000) and the National Sports Council (RM100,000).
The final squad for the tournament will be named after a friendly against New Zealand today.
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