HANGZHOU: After training under the sweltering heat in Kuala Lumpur, which reaches over 33 degrees Celsius, the national hockey team didn’t expect the weather during the Asian Games here would be rainy and dip about 10 degrees Celsius lower.

Based on the earlier forecast, the temperature is expected to be similar to that of Malaysia or slightly lower but is not expected to dip to 20 degrees Celsius before the end of September.

Head coach Arul Selvaraj said the cool weather is considered perfect for hockey, being a highly competitive endurance outdoor sport.

However, after the Speedy Tigers squad’s training at the Gongshu Canal Sports Park Stadium here, Arul Selvaraj was concerned about the possibility of waterlogs if too much water was sprinkled onto the pitch.

“This kind of weather is very beautiful for hockey... (but) I think if it rains and they sprinkle a lot of water, then the pitch will become heavy and waterlogged.

“I told the team manager (Datuk Mirnawan Nawawi) to speak to the tournament director. If it’s raining and the sun is not out, we should reduce the amount of water used,” he told Bernama.

On the Group B opening match against Thailand tomorrow morning, the national 2022 Male Coach of the Year award winner said the Speedy Tigers had made plans on how to counter the world number 54 team’s strategies.

On paper, the world number 10 and previous edition runners-up Malaysia should tame the Thais easily.

“Usually, in the first game of any tournament, jittery will happen. But I think the boys are fine, enjoyed the environment, and I hope they will enjoy the game and tournament.

“We already expected how Thailand might come up and we have planned what we should do to counter that, and of course, one goal at a time. We are expected to beat Thailand, but I can’t be putting pressure on players to keep scoring goals. (However,) the end results (winning) are important,” he said.

After facing Thailand, the Speedy Tigers set to play against Oman on Sept 26, Indonesia (Sept 28), South Korea (Sept 30) and host China (Oct 2) to complete the group level, with the top two teams will advance to the semi-finals.

At the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games, Malaysia were the favourites in the final against Japan but missed the gold medal after a 1-3 penalty shootout, following a 6-6 tie. - Bernama

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