think we should qualify for the semi-finals. Then from
there it is anybody’s game and with homeground advantage
I hope we will be able to create upsets and put up a good
show. – C.R. KUMAR
(21 Aug 2002) KOTA KINABALU: The rather
inexperienced Sabah men’s hockey team has the quality
to spring surprises come September.
Although the team coached by former Indian international
coach C. R. Kumar lacks match temperament or exposure
when compared to their peninsula counterparts, but with
homeground advantage behind them, they are capable of
taking on the top teams in the Ninth Malaysia Games (Sukma
Even the coach is quietly eyeing a place in the last
He said the team should be able to reach the semi-finals
in the country’s biggest sporting carnival, which
is only 17 days away.
“Although personally, I would prefer to take one
match at a time, I think we should qualify for the semi-finals.
Then from there it is anybody’s game and with homeground
advantage I hope we will be able to create upsets and
put up a good show,” Kumar said yesterday.
“I’m happy with the players’ progress.
They have shown some improvement and I hope they will
maintain it until and during the Sukma,” he added.
On the team’s friendly tour to Perak recently,
Kumar said it was a very good experience for the players.
During the tour (to Ipoh, Perak), Kumar said they played
five matches and managed to record one win, two draws
and suffer two defeats.
“I’m not very particular about the results
of the friendlies. It doesn’t bother me. We are
trying to play as many matches as possible and trying
to identify our weaknesses.
“This trip was a good experience for the players
where they played against different teams. Now they have
a wonderful experience, including myself.
“Most of the players have not played outside Sabah
before and with this experience they now more-or-less
understand how it feels to play against teams from outside.
“I don’t have any idea on the strength of
the other teams. If you are talking about the national
team (Malaysia) I know their strength, but it is not the
same as the state teams.
“Now at least I know something from this trip.
“The players are looking forward to the Games and
we will have Kedah to beat in the opener. We need to win
the opener as it will definitely boost the team’s
confidence and spirit,” he said.
Kumar has another 17 days left to polish the side. “After
the trip I have more or less identified the weaknesses
of the team and we are now trying to rectify our weaknesses.”
During the friendly tour, Sabah also played against the
Kedah Sukma team. The match ended in favour of Kedah.
Kumar also expressed his sincere thanks to the Sabah
Sports Board (SSB) for making the trip possible.
On behalf of the team and the Sabah Hockey Association
(SHA), he also thanked the Mayor of Ipoh City Hall as
well as the Kota Kinabalu City Mayor for making all the
necessary arrangements for the trip.
“They (Ipoh) were having a local league, but they
postponed it to give way for us to play our friendly matches
there. They (Ipoh City Hall) also brought our players
for sight seeing around Ipoh,” added Kumar.
Meanwhile, Kumar said he would finalise his squad soon
after consulting the SHA officials in the next couple
At the moment, Kumar has 19 trainees in his squad and
he needs to drop three to make the final 16-member team
for the biennial Games.
In the Games, Sabah has been drawn in Group A together
with reigning champions Selangor, Kedah, Pahang and Negeri
Sembilan while Group B comprises Kuala Lumpur, Penang,
Perak, Johor and Brunei.