Monday February 18, 2013
Dutch maestro to give our hockey goalkeepers the extra edge
By S. RAMAGURU
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has good goalkeepers in the national hockey set up but unless they have the drive to excel they will not reach the top.
Dutch goalkeeper master coach Martirjn Dwyer was very direct in his assessment of our goalkeepers. He believes that providing the little “extra” for the Malaysians keepers will go a long way towards making them among the elite custodians in the world.
The Malaysian national team turned to the Dutchman last October to handle the goal keeping department and to give the goalkeepers a new perspective on what to do between the posts.
Malaysia‘s current top two goalkeepers are S. Kumar and Roslan Jamaludin and they have no peers among the up-coming players. The other two goalkeepers in the national training squad are Khairulnizam Ibrahim and Mohamed Hazrul Faiz.
There have been many occasions when the national team have lost or drawn matches in the last five minutes. And that is why new national hockey coach Paul Revington wants to pay more attention on the goal keeping department.
Martirjn added that there is nothing wrong with the Malaysian keepers but with the game changing so fast there is need to focus on some areas which are crucial.
“Technically the Malaysians keepers are good enough. But improvements can be made in every sphere of the game as it can mean the difference between being good and excellent.
“To that end I have looked at which areas the goalkeepers need to focus on and help them with it. Two things that we have worked hard on for the moment are the five-metre striking area within the semi-circle where goals are often scored and penalty corner defence.
“Take a look at the top major tournaments and we will see that more than 80% of the goals come from these two aspects. I am really fine-tuning the keepers rather than teaching them new technics. They (Kumar and Roslan) are at the tail end of their careers. They know what needs to be done and where work is required,” said Martirjn.
Martirjn has been involved in coaching for the last three decades and Holland’s goalkeepers, who are highly regarded in the world, almost all came under his tutelage.
The Dutchman first handled the keepers in October last year for 10 days in Holland. That was for the Champions Challenge I which was held in Argentina in November.
The current session which ended yesterday is part of the preparations for the coming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which will be held in Ipoh next month.
Malaysia will be up against some of the top teams in the world in the tournament. They are defending champions New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan, India and South Korea.
Malaysia have two major tournaments this year and both are qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup. The first will be the World League semi-finals which will be held in Johor Baru in June and the other the Asia Cup in September in Ipoh.
Martirjn said he is not sure when the next stint will be with the keepers as it would depend on the coach’s training programme.
Although both Kumar and Roslan are in their 30s, Martijn feels they still have the drive to play at the top level.
“The age really does not matter if you have the drive and the stamina to play at the top level. How long they can continue is really up to them. Both are very determined players,” he added.