After gaining World Cup slot, indoor hockey squad want to be listed in NSC programme

SEPANG, May 27: The national men’s indoor hockey team hope that their historic achievement of qualifying for the 2025 World Cup in Croatia will pave the way for their inclusion in the National Sports Council’s (NSC) training programme.

Skipper Muhammad Najmi Farizal Jazlan said this is important for the squad to be better prepared for their debut in the World Cup next year.

“We need full support not only from NSC but also the Youth and Sports Ministry and National Sports Institute to continue our programmes until the World Cup, including getting more exposure to international tournaments after this.

“There are plans for overseas training in South Africa and Europe in the run-up to the 2025 World Cup but we need funds like allocations from the government,” he told reporters at the KLIA 2 upon the squad’s return from the Asian Cup 2024 tournament in Taldykorgan, Kazakhstan.

Despite qualifying for the World Cup, Muhammad Najmi said the squad were disappointed with their failure to defend the Asian Cup title after losing 1-7 to Iran in the final last Saturday.

Meanwhile, head coach Mohd Rodzhanizam Mat Radzi hopes the team could get a new training venue instead of continuing to use the Sentul Urban Transformation Centre (UTC).

He said the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) has identified several places in the Klang Valley which could be equipped with better training facilities for the national squad.

Mohd Rodzhanizam feels that the squad deserve to be given incentives for gaining automatic qualification for the World Cup, which will be held in Porec from Feb 3 to 9 next year.

In the 2024 Asian Cup first round, Malaysia thrashed Oman 10-2, drew 3-3 with hosts Kazakhstan and beat 2023 SEA Games champions Indonesia 5-4 to top Group B and qualify for the second round.

In the second round, Malaysia beat Thailand 5-2 and drew 3-3 with Iran to finish second to Iran in Group C.

The top two teams in Group C automatically qualified for the World Cup and played in the 2024 Asian Cup final.