THE national team touched down in the Netherlands yesterday feeling motivated and confident, and the first welcome waiting for them was a hearty breakfast at coach Roelant Oltmans’ residence.
The team will play Britain for a Tokyo Olympic berth on Nov 2 and 3 in London.
They are feeling motivated following a social media campaign initiated by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) to spur the players ahead of the matches against Britain.
Even the players’ families, officials and fans including comedians, Mamat Sepah, Azlee Senario and Acong Sweetchild, joined in and posted positive messages for the players on MHC’s social media accounts.
The message MHC are trying to drill into their players is ‘Demi Negara Pasti Layak!’ (Qualify for the nation).
It is hoped that the players will be inspired and motivated to turn the tables on Britain and qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2000 Sydney.
The team are in the Netherlands to play warm-up matches against Dutch sides HOC Gazellen-Combinatie and HC Bloemendaal on Oct 26 and 27. They will head to London the following day.
Captain Shukri Mutalib was feeling positive at KLIA in Sepang on Sunday before the team departed for the Netherlands.
“We are ready to give Britain a tough fight until the last second of both matches.
“And the motivational videos (on social media) by family members, friends and fans have made our resolution stronger. We want to qualify for the Olympics,” said Shukri.
Oltmans has taken 20 players with him, but two will be dropped from the qualifier.
“Just like how we qualified on merit for the last World Cup, I believe it is not impossible to get back into the Olympics after 20 years.
“We are ready. The key is to be consistent in both matches,” Shukri added.
The Lee Valley Stadium, the venue for the qualifier, is expected to be packed with home fans following encouraging ticket sales and the playing-time weather is expected to be around 12 degrees Celsius or lower.