South Korea Incheon Asian Games

* To collect full points against Singapore and Bangladesh

* To get a point or full points against South Korea

* To win three points against Japan

* The semi-finals if the first three targets are reached

* The final if the first four targets are achieved

ASIAN Games hockey coach A. Arulselvaraj has strong faith in his team and believes that Malaysia’s chances of winning the gold medal are as good as any others and earn an automatic berth to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

It is certainly an uphill battle for the Malaysians after the recent spate of poor results – in the World Cup in the Hague and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

However, Arulselvaraj and his team, including team manager Tai Beng Hai were in buoyant mood when the hockey team left for Incheon last night – on a mission to redeem Malaysia’s battered hockey pride.

Arulselvaraj’s first target is to collect full points against Singapore (Sept 20) and Bangladesh (Sept 21) in Malaysia’s opening two matches in Group A. The six points will put the Malaysians in good stead for the second and third targets – a draw or a win against South Korea (Sept 25) and a win against Japan (Sept 26). The fourth target is to qualify for the semi-finals if the first three targets go according to plans.

“The fifth and final target is the final,” said Arulselvaraj before taking the flight to Incheon from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

When asked if the hockey team is under pressure to deliver in Incheon, Arulselvaraj was quick to reply: ” When you have the passion and love for the sport there is no pressure.

“I have been doing it (coaching) for the last 12 years. The word pressure does not exist in my dictionary. I believe the team that I have picked is the best for Malaysia to do well in Incheon.

Malaysian hockey hogged the limelight after finishing 12th and last in the World Cup in The Hague. Malaysia ended their campaign without a win to show. In the Commonwealth Games, Malaysia took a beating, including a 4-1 defeat to hockey minnows Trinidad and Tobago.

Senior coach K. Dharmaraj was removed from his job for the Asian Games and Arulselvaraj was appointed as the interim chief coach for the Asiad.

Malaysian hockey supremo Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who is also the Crown Prince of Pahang even threatened to withdraw the team from the Asian Games if the players are not committed and disciplined and do not have the pride to wear national colours after reports surfaced that the national team to the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games was divided into two camps.

Several players also quit the team in a huff because of their unhappiness with Dharmaraj’s way of coaching and handling of the team..

For the record, Malaysia won the silver medal at the last Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010.

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