The Speedy Tigers must muscle up and fix their weaknesses for next year’s Olympic qualifiers in Oman following a subdued Tour of New Zealand outing.
During the tour, A. Arul Selvaraj’s side recorded one win, one draw and three defeats.
World No. 12 Malaysia defeated 10th-ranked South Korea 2-1 and lost three times to world No. 11 New Zealand (3-2, 2-0, 3-0). In Sunday’s friendly, Malaysia held the Kiwis to a 4-4 draw.
In the Oman qualifiers on Jan 13-21, Malaysia are in Group A with Britain, Pakistan and China, while Group B consists of Germany, Canada, New Zealand and Chile.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the semi-finals, where the top three finishers will qualify for the Paris Olympics from July 26-Aug 11.
The Tour of New Zealand was the final tune-up for the national team ahead of the qualifiers.
The unimpressive outing does not augur well for Malaysia in their hopes of qualifying for the Olympics for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Games.
However, fans can rest assured that Arul will fix his team’s shortcomings before the qualifiers.
Malaysia could have qualified for the Olympics by winning the Asian Games gold medal in Hangzhou in September, but the team failed to perform well and finished sixth.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian men’s and women’s teams received a boost yesterday, with apparel company Young Tigers becoming their official attire sponsor ahead of the Hockey 5s World Cup in Muscat, Oman on Jan 24-31.
The Malaysian men’s team are in Group D with Fiji, Oman and the United States, while the women’s team are in Group A with Fiji, Oman and the Netherlands.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Hockey 5s chairman Has nizam Hassan believes both the men’s and women’s teams will qualify for the quarterfinals of their respective categories.
“We will select the squads in mid-January after a fitness test,” said Has nizam.