Malaysia hope to use home ground advantage to qualify for the second round of the World League.
The first round of the World League, which will be held in Kuantan from 14-16 September will see Malaysia up against Singapore, Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka in the round robin competition where only the top team will proceed to the next round.
Malaysia will field virtually the same team, save for three players,that participated in the Olympic Qualifiers in Japan last May.
The three players that will not see action are Norhasliza Md Ali and Nuraini Rashid – both who underwent sugeries for anterior cruciate ligamaent (ACL) while the third Sebah Kari has since announced her retirement.
Three players from the junior squad – Fatin Shafika Mohd Shukri, Nur Izaidah Ibrahim Mohammad and Fatin Naimah Zaki have been given the nod for the World League by national coach Mohd Nasihin Nubli Ibrahim.
The league will see participation from around the globe and will be held over four rounds with the current qualification norms for the Olympics ceasing to exist and providing an opportunity for every FIH member country to compete for an Olympic berth.
“We are looking at making the next round and having had good results against these teams in the past, I see no reason why we will not be able to qualify for the second round,” said Nasihin.
“The changes that we made to the team are necessary due to injuries but I am optimistic that these youngsters will be able to hold their own as they have benefitted from playing in the Junior Asia Cup in Bangkok in July.
Malaysia will open their campaign against Singapore, followed by Kazakhstan and end the tournament against Sri Lanka. With Singapore their likely threat, it came as a surprise that they opted to play the islanders first.
“It does not matter who we play first as eventually we have to play them. But having played Singapore so many times, we know their style and tactics hence our option to play Singapore in our first match,” said Nasihin.
Malaysia last played Singapore at senior level in the SEA Cup in Bangkok last year where they won 6-0. And their last encounter against Kazakhstan was at the 2010 Asian Games where Malaysia triumped 4-2.
“We are all prepared to play hosts to the teams and the Pahang HA have been hard at work to ensure a successful tournament. We hope that hockey fans will throng the stadium to support our national team in their quest to make the second round,” said Organising secretary and MHC Senior Vice President Dr. S. Shamala.
ABOUT THE WORLD LEAGUE
The league will see participation from around the globe and will be held over four rounds with the current qualification norms for the Olympics ceasing to exist.
The league provides an opportunity for every FIH member country to compete for an Olympic berth.
Six or seven teams from the FIH World League will join the host country and five continental champions at the Olympics. Eighty countries have confirmed participation for the men's competition and 58 for women
The World League will be held in a two-year cycle starting next year.
The elimination rounds will be held in various countries in the first two rounds from which eight teams will move to Round Three.
They will join the top eight teams, based on rankings, to play the semi-final phase where the teams will be divided into two groups with the top eight advancing to the final which will be hosted by Argentina in December 2013. The top eight teams will receive a bye to Round three.
Teams ranked 9th to 16th will get a bye into the second round. World ranking points will be awarded at each level.