National hockey skipper Mohamad Sukri Abdul Mutalib has called on his teammates to learn from their past experience as they seek to start the men’ hockey event at the Asian Games on a winning note.
The Malaysians play an unknown quantity in Kazakhstan in their opening Group B tie at the Gelora Bung Karno hockey stadium on Monday.
“None of us have played the Kazakhstan team before. So, it is a new experience. But having said that we also must not underestimate them. I am sure they will try very hard to beat us. They have nothing to lose,” he said.
Sukri admitted that in the past the team had taken it a little easy when playing the weaker teams.
“We cannot do that anymore. Teams are evolving and even the weaker teams are a threat these days. One off day can prove costly. That is why we must put to good use the experience we have and learn from the past mistakes,” he added.
Sukri is one of the four players who is playing in his fourth Asian Games. The others are Muhammad Razie Abd Rahim, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil, and S. Kumar.
But seven of the players in this team have been in the squad that captured the silver medal in 2010.It is the highest podium finish for the Malaysians in their series.
Besides the four the other three are Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor, Faizal Saari, and Muhammad Marhan Jalil.
Kazakhstan was a late replacement for China. Their only appearance in the Asian Games was in 1994 in Hiroshima. They managed to beat the Malaysians in the group phase 3-1. In the fifth placing play off the Malaysians thrashed them 5-0.
“The past records do not really matter. This is a different ball game. We are ranked higher and let us show that we are the better team.
“The big worry will be to keep our mistakes down and not get carried away. For me, the way is to keep it simple and I will do my best to guide the players and make sure that our performance level is high.
“Every match is important, and we must keep a winning momentum going,” he said.
The Malaysians play Thailand neat followed by Bangladesh, which is coached by Malaysian K. Gobinathan, Pakistan and Oman.
The Malaysians are the top seed for the group and is expected to make the semi-finals along with Pakistan.
For Sukri the semis is still a distance away as he wants the players to take one game at a time.
“Lets us not think ahead just yet. All I seek for now from the team is a consistent performance and secure full points from our Group matches,” he added.
The match against Kazakhstan will be played at 7.00 pm Malaysian time.