* Subahan Kamal sets sights on 2020 Tokyo Olympics 

* ‘We want to qualify on merit’ – Subahan


A day after the 4-1 bashing at the hands of Ireland in a classification match (5th/6th) in the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in Antwerp, Belgium on Sunday, Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) supremo Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal has vowed changes in the national hockey team.

“Everyone has to accept the fact there will be changes for the betterment of hockey in Malaysia. We must qualify on merit to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” said Subahan who was elected to the post unopposed on May 13.

Malaysia is now in a “waiting game” with hopes of sneaking in through to the back door to play in the 2016 Rio Olympics – hoping to make the grade as one of the countries on the reserves list together with New Zealand, Canada, Spain and Ireland.

Any of the countries on the reserves list will qualify for the Rio Olympics if any of the top three countries on the World Hockey League semi-finals win their respective continental titles. It is a long, long wait for Malaysia as the continental champions will only decided in October.

Still, the wait is worth waiting to taste Olympic participation after 16 years. Malaysia last qualified for the Olympics and it was in Sydney in 2000.

 Malaysia had everything going for them in Antwerpt after winning their opening two matches – against China (3-2) and Ireland (4-2) but fell to Belgium (2-0) and Great Britain in their next two matches but it was enough to earn a quarter-final match against India.

Despite the roller coaster ride in Antwerp, Malaysia were expected to beat India, who have already qualified for the Rio Olympics after winning the Asian Games hockey gold medal by defeating Malaysia in the final.

Even after the heartbreaking defeat to India in the World League Semi-Finals, Malaysia showed promise as potential Olympic candidates with an impressive 4-1 win over France in the playoffs.

But it was a pathetic performance from Malaysia against the Irish who roared to an emphatic 4-1 win to keep their Olympic hopes alive. Malaysia’s hopes are also “alive” albeit through the back door while the waiting game takes its course.

Despite the heartbreak, Malaysia could still sneak into the Rio Olympics.

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