Singapore (6 February 2017): Singapore’s 2-0 test series victory over Thailand has given head coach K. Rajan more options in their preparation for the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games later this year.
The Singaporeans, who are placed 39 in the current FIH Hero World Rankings, and Thailand at 59, won the first test 7-0 on Saturday (4 February) and rounded up the series with a 3-1 win on Sunday at the National Hockey Centre in Bangkok.
“Overall I am happy with the performance of the players in the two test matches. It has given them (players) a good head start towards our SEA Games preparation and we have to build on this momentum leading into the Games,” said Singapore head coach K. Rajan who arrived in the Republic on the same day hours after the match ended.
“In the first game, we scored four goals through penalty corners and three from open play. The series has been one of ‘good feeling’ for nine senior team players who are back in the squad after missing out on the AHF Cup in Hong Kong last year due to work commitments,” he added.
Both Thailand and Singapore are in the midst of preparation for the SEA Games– a regional multi-sport event that will take place in the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur from 10-31 August 2017.
The second stage of Singapore team’s program, observed Rajan, will be against the visiting Oman side on Feb 25 and 26 in the Malaysian state of Malacca which is only a four-hour drive up north from the causeway.
Oman is scheduled to compete in the Men’s Hockey World League Round 2 in Dhaka, Bangladesh which is slated to get underway from March 4-12 at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium. They are drawn in Pool A alongside World No 13 Malaysia, Fiji and the host nation.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has drafted Malaysia in the Hockey World League Round-2 as the replacement for Canada who pulled out of the competition recently citing security concerns.
“They (Oman) have requested for matches against us en route to Dhaka and I believe playing against a team ranked higher than us is a going to be a real challenge for my players. This is the kind of atmosphere we are looking at in building up this team,” added Rajan.
“After the matches against Oman, we will get the team together again following a short break and play more practice matches against Malaysian state teams or clubs. They need to play lots of matches to stay fine-tuned for the SEA Games,” added the former Malaysian international.
He has set a personal target of taking Singapore to a higher ranking in Asia and based on Singapore’s progress of late, the Republic is slowly but surely heading in the right direction under Rajan, who was instrumental in guiding Malaysia’s electricity utility company Tenaga Nasional Berhad to six National Premier League titles in his 12 years as coach.