KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 ― National men's hockey squad head coach Roelant Oltmans is aiming for his team to play up to 20 international matches before they march into the 2020 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament which has been rescheduled to September.
His coaching team has already made contact with several countries to arrange for friendly matches during April and May to maintain the team's match fitness. Also on the cards is a European tour in July.
“Twenty matches are okay before the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup,” Oltmans told reporters after the national squad training session at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil here today.
The tournament, initially slated to take place from April 11 to 18, has been postponed due to the Covid-19 situation.
The 29th edition of the event will be Oltmans' first major competition since he began as head coach of the Malaysian Tigers in October 2018.
“We will be having the New Zealand team in June. It is likely that will come to Kuantan and we will play a number of matches there,” he said.
Oltmans said with the presence of a new set of players, it would be good to see how they perform on the international stage.
On the postponement of the tournament due to Covid-19, he said the health of the players is more important than hockey at this moment.
National defender, Muhammad Razie Abdul Rahim, meanwhile, said the tournament’s postponement will allow more time for the national team’s rebuilding process.
The 32-year-old, however, also believes there was no better yardstick of a team’s progress than playing against international opposition.
The organising committee of the 2020 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup has proposed that the tournament be held from September 24 to October 3. ― Bernama