National hockey coach, Stephen Van Huizen is satisfied with the performances of goalkeepers Muhammad Hafizuddin Othman and Mohammad Hairi Abd Rahman during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup which ended in Ipoh yesterday. Pic by NSTP/MUHAIZAN YAHYA

KUALA LUMPUR: National hockey coach, Stephen Van Huizen is satisfied with the performances of goalkeepers Muhammad Hafizuddin Othman and Mohammad Hairi Abd Rahman during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup which ended in Ipoh yesterday.

Even though they did not manage to match the heroics of the country’s top goalkeeper, S. Kumar who is on temporary suspension after testing positive for using the banned substance Sibutramine during the Asia Cup in Dhaka, Bangladesh last year, Van Huizen feels both goalkeepers can be trusted in goal for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast from April 4 to 15.

Kumar is certain to miss the Games in Gold Coast because he is waiting for the date of the hearing from the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

"For me, both goalkeepers have shown their best, though it cannot be denied that they also made some silly mistakes.

"But this was the initial objective that I wanted to achieve from the tournament, which was to allow them to gain as much exposure as possible and also to learn from any mistakes made,” he said.

Van Huizen stressed that he believes both goalkeepers will be able to improve on their performance provided they are given the chance to feature at major tournaments.

"Once they have gained such exposure and experiences, only then will they be able to become even better.

"Overall even though it is disappointing that we failed to make the final or third place, I feel each and every player who featured on the field gave it their all,” he said.

Malaysia ended their challenge in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in fourth place after going down 2-3 to Olympic champions Argentina in the third and fourth placing match yesterday.

Van Huizen kept his promise as he fielded both Hairi and Hafizuddin, who were given equal chances to play during the tournament.

Speaking on the players who will be representing the country at the Commonwealth Games, Van Huizen did not discount the possibility of making minor changes to the national squad.

"I need to assess the situation of a few players who are injured and were not able to play in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

"Among the players missing through injury is captain, Mohamad Sukri Abdul Mutalib. I have less than two weeks to reevaluate all the players,” he said.

The national hockey squad leaves for Gold Coast on March 26 (Monday).

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