KUALA LUMPUR: Going by current form, the Malaysian men’s hockey team are far from ready to win the Asian Games gold medal and qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Failing which, they will have to try the tougher World League route to qualify for the Olympics, which Malaysia last played in 2000 in Sydney.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) have reiterated many times that they want to qualify for the Olympics via the Indonesia Asian Games on Aug 18 to Sept 2, but coach Stephen van Huizen’s men are not in battle condition for the mission yet.
Malaysia must beat India, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan and China if they want to win their first Asiad gold medal.
Malaysia have only won one silver, in 2010 in Guangzhou, China, and six bronze medals since 1958.
Malaysia finished fourth at the last Asian Games in South Korea.
Based on performances in the Asia Cup, Azlan Shah Cup and Commonwealth Games, it looks like India are van Huizen’s nemeses.
Malaysia’s record against India in the last three encounters all ended up in losses. Malaysia lost 2-1, 5-1, 2-1 in the Asia Cup, Azlan Shah Cup and Commonwealth Games respectively. Malaysia ended fifth while India fourth at the Gold Coast Games.
The only silver lining for van Huzien’s men is that they beat India 3-2 in the quarter-finals of the World League Semifinals in London, to qualify for the World Cup.
Van Huzien admitted that the Asian Games gold quest is not going to be easy.
“Overall going by our performance at the group stage I believe there is still much room for improvement and many areas need to be strengthened, because we will be playing in the Asian Games after this.
“And after playing against India and Pakistan (drew 1-1), I can see that the Asian Games is going to be a very tough tournament as South Korea and Japan are also expected to put up a good fight (for the Olympics slot),” said van Huzien.