Malaysian hockey team to play 5 friendlies against China to prepare for HWL semifinals
The Malaysian men’s hockey team will tune up with a slew of international matches for the upcoming FIH Hockey World League semifinals scheduled to be held in their own backyard from June 29 to July 7.
The yellow-and-black brigade, who would be looking to put up a strong showing in the Hockey World League semifinals which will be played at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Bahru, is expected to play five international friendly matches against China.
Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) sources say the five matches should be adequate preparation for the Malaysian team considering the fact that there isn’t much difference in terms of rankings. Malaysia are ranked 13th in the FIH world rankings, while China are ranked 18th.
According to the Malaysian Hockey Federation, the five international friendly matches would be held after the conclusion of the ongoing Malaysian Hockey League on May 19. The MHL had kickstarted on March 22 with a seven-team field.
It is learnt that the tentatively scheduled date for the first match is May 25. The second match would be held on May 26 while the third match would be held on May 28.
The fourth match would be held on May 30 with the fifth and final tie slated to be held the next day.
It is worth mentioning that FIH Hockey World League semifinals to be held in Johor Bahru, attaches a lot of significance for the national team as berths would be up for grabs for the 2014 men’s World Cup to be held at the Kyocera Stadium in the Hague, Holland from May 31 to June 15.
The Johor Bahru-hosted tournament is the second FIH Hockey World League semifinals. The first FIH Hockey World League semifinals would be staged in Rotterdam, the Netherlands a couple of weeks ahead of the Johor Bahru event.
Four semifinalists from the two Hockey World League semifinal tournaments would gain qualification to the 2014 World Cup.
It may be noted that Malaysia have failed to qualify for the last two World Cups held in Germany (2006) and New Delhi (2010).
At the Johor Bahru event, eight teams will feature in the World League semi-finals.
Besides hosts Malaysia, Olympic champions Germany, Argentina, England, South Korea, Pakistan, South Africa will be pitted against each other.
One more team would join these teams by qualifying from the two HWL Round 2 tournaments to be held in May-June.
Malaysia recently lost the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final to Australia 2-3 in a gripping contest.
Malaysia is also expected to tour Pakistan for a hockey series. MHF is working out the details with the Pakistan Hockey Federation.Published 08 Apr 2013, 13:12 IST