Contrary to what some may think, the Malaysian hockey team at the Champions Challenge I i Johannesburg should win matches in the preliminary rounds in order to have a better draw for the last eight.
This was the opinion shared by HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the President of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation who is in Johannesburg following the proceedings and watching the performances of the team.
Malaysia have not had a good start to the tournament, losing their opening match 1-3 to Canada before holding Japan to a 2-2 draw after being two goals down in the opening ten minutes of the match on Sunday.
" The performances so far is below par. The team is capable of playing much better hockey. Of course I am not happy with the defeat to Canada and the draw against Japan," said Tengku Abdullah via email.
" Every match is important as such the results at group stage does matter. If we do well at this stage, the chances are we will meet a weaker team at the quarter finals. Vice versa if we do badly then we will meet a stronger team in the quarter finals. "
Tengku Abdullah also voiced his concern on the ability of the team to be consistent in their displays, as evident in their patchy performance in the two matches thus far.
Adopting a hands on approach is Tengku Abdullah's forte and the fact that he is in Johannesburg to watch the team in action is testimony to the fact of his commitment in ensuring Malaysia qualifies for the Olympics after a 12 year lapse.
" After watching the team played the last 2 games, I noticed that there are some weak links in the team," said Tengku Abdullah.
" I did not want to highlight this issue but I have spoken to the coach and he will address this issues ASAP.
" On the issue of consistency, the coach will have a look into it seriously as the qualifier is in March and we have the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in February.
" The team management is aware of these issue and they have 3 months to rectify them before the qualifier."