Empowering Speedy Tigers ahead of Asian Games challenge

KUALA LUMPUR: The Speedy Tigers are in a self-empowerment mode as they prepare to challenge favourites India for the men's hockey gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

National coach A. Arul Selvaraj has been instilling a strong sense of self-belief in his team since he took over from Roelant Oltmans in August 2020.

Despite being on a short break, the players are diligently following a fitness programme.

Such preparations are customary when gearing up for significant tournaments, such as the Asian Games.

The champions at the Asian Games from Sept 23-Oct 8 will qualify for the Paris Olympics next year.

"My players are currently taking a short break from playing hockey. However, they have a fitness programme to adhere to in preparation for the Asian Games," said Arul.

"We will gradually ramp up our high-energy field training sessions, focusing on short periods of intensity.

"We will also revisit the basics, such as passing and receiving, before departing for China on Sept 21 or 22."

Two key players, attacking midfielder Fitri Saari and defender Syafiq Hassan, are currently injured.

"Both players remain on the injury list. We will continue to assess their condition over the next few days before announcing the final 18-player squad for the Asian Games early next week."

In the recent Asian Champions Trophy in Chennai, world No. 10 Malaysia lost 4-3 to third-ranked India in the final.

Malaysia will open their Asian Games Pool B campaign against Thailand on Sept 24. Other teams in the group include China, South Korea, Indonesia and Oman.

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