Saturday March 9, 2013
Malaysia bank on new coach to guide team to first Sultan Azlan Shah Cup victory
By S. RAMAGURU
IPOH: Malaysia have never won the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup title. So, will the 22nd edition be any different?
This yearís competition begins today at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium ó on the blue pitch. And local fans will be looking at South African coach Paul Revington to guide the team, who have floundered in the international arena for some time, to success.
The coach, however, isnít making any formal predictions.
For him, the performance is the priority and he also wants to see improvement from the players in all respect.
ďWe started off our journey when I took over in October. The issue for me is to try and learn about the players we have and what itíll take to give the Malaysian game a jolt to take it back into the elite grouping,Ē he said.
ďIn the previous two tournaments that I handled the team, the main thing was to see an improvement in the playersí performances and also a consistency in the way they play.
ďThatís the result I am concerned about. The winning mentality will follow when we start winning and each match must be met with that attitude.
ďIn each of the previous tournaments, we blended the young with the experienced. Itís the same here. We want to win each game. But Iíll settle for the players to prove to me that they have what it takes to play in the international scene.Ē
Malaysia will start off against South Korea and the man in charge of the opposition is Paul Lissek. The German had coached Malaysia from 2000 to 2006.
Beating the Koreans at any tournament is never an easy task. And with Lissek to provide the tactical know-how, the task will be harder for Revingtonís men.
Still, itís a chance to learn as Malaysia will face the Koreans two more times this year Ė in the World League semi-finals and the Asia Cup.
Similarly, Pakistan and India too will be interested about Malaysia as they too are in the mix for the other two big tournaments.
Many of the teams are also using the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to kick-start their programmes and initiatives with an eye on the 2014 World Cup, which will be held in Holland.
Almost all the teams have included younger players and the aim is to see if these players can rise to the occasion.
So, for the hockey fans, itís a chance to see rising talent in action.
Australia will start as favourites as they chase their seventh Sultan Azlan Shah Cup crown.
New Zealand, the defending champions, like South Korea and Malaysia also have a new coach in Australian Colin Batch.
It may be a small field of just six teams but the tournament can be assured of high quality.
Hopefully, for the home fans, the Malaysians will keep the flag flying at the top until the last day.