KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Gaining back the skills and techniques will be the main focus of the national hockey team as the men return to the pitch for the first time tomorrow, after more than three months of home workouts.
Head coach Roelant Oltmans, who is currently under self-quarantine after returning from the Netherlands, said the Speedy Tigers squad would have to spend the first couple of weeks on building up their game, including speed and handling, before getting into full-fledged action after the recovery movement control order (RMCO) ends on August 31.
The 66-year-old believes his charges are in good shape in terms of fitness, having followed a five-day-per-week training programme since the MCO was imposed on March 18 with the gaffer monitoring them from his home in Netherlands.
Although other countries, including Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, had begun their training earlier, Roelant remains calm and unperturbed.
“We are happy and keen to start back the training, albeit strict standard operating procedures (SOP) like social distancing, training in small groups and non-contact training. We do not have any tournaments till November, so we have a lot of time to prepare.
“We have time to build up from running, strength, skills to finally play matches. Probably only after August, we will be able to do contact training, followed by matches,” he said when contacted by Bernama, today.
Roelant has entrusted his assistants Mohd Amin Rahim and Mohd Nasihin Nubli to temporarily take charge of the 33 players who will report to the training camp at the National Hockey Stadium, tomorrow.
The veteran coach who had tasted World Cup and Olympic victories with the Netherlands is undergoing a 14-day home-quarantine in Bukit Jalil after returning to Malaysia yesterday, although he has tested negative for Covid-19 thrice, namely twice in the Netherlands and once upon arrival.
“Although (I have) tested negative three times, we need to follow the government orders. I will still monitor the training programmes and videos in the system,” he added.
The only major international assignment left for the squad in the 2020 calendar is the Asian Champions Trophy at Dhaka, Bangladesh in November, while the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh has been called off due to the Covid-19 scare. — Bernama