200 days buildup for World Cup

THE national men's hockey team will return to training on July 8 after their silver medal feat at the Jakarta Asia Cup in May.

Coach Arul Selvaraj has about 200 days to get his men ready for the World Cup on Jan 13-29 in Bhubanesar and Rourkela in Odisha, India.

In the 2018 World Cup, also held in Bhubaneswar, Malaysia ended up 15th out of 16 teams. And it's going to be another uphill battle in Odisha.

"My players took a break after Jakarta, but it was not a total break, as they were given a schedule to follow.

"When they check into camp on Monday, they will undergo a fitness, as well as other tests, before we take to field training on July 8," said Arul.

The national team will undergo two months of fitness training before playing matches against foreign teams.

Arul still stands by his decision to play Australia before the Asia Cup in Jakarta, even though his players were thrashed in all four matches 3-0, 7-0, 5-0 and 3-0.

"Playing teams like Australia, even though we were outclassed, is the best way to improve and we did reasonaly well agiants Asian teams in Jakarta after that Down Under exposure.

"I will be planning for more matches against higher ranked teams, subject to availability, until the end of the year," said Arul.

World No 10 Malaysia have India, Japan, South Korea, Belgium, England, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, France, Wales, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand for company in Bhubaneswar.

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