The Malaysia men's hockey squad received a fresh breath of life in an effort to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) announced the appointment of new head coach Roelant Oltmans on Monday.
Oltmans, 64, who was Pakistan's former head coach, signed a two-year contract with the MHC, replacing former head coach Stephen Van Huizen, who is now the national assistant coach.
MHC president Subahan Kamal said the appointment of Oltmans was not denying Van Huizen's ability but to make the national team stronger.
"I hope it will be the best formula for the team. Oltmans will be head coach and Stephen will serve as assistant coach and team manager as he has a lot of knowledge of the national team.
"I am sure they can cooperate well and it will be a complete combination to make the national squad a solid team. The other coaching line-ups have not changed, including technical director Terry Walsh," he told reporters at the MHC media conference at the Bukit Jalil Hockey Stadium.
Meanwhile, Oltmans said his presence in Malaysia was not to guarantee that Malaysia would qualify for the Olympics but to bring about a comprehensive change to the national team.
"We need to keep on developing ourself physically, tactically, mentally and in terms of skills. These are all the areas to be improved. And in the end, to find a group of players who are heading in the right way to let all those qualities come together at the right moments, that’s what you want to achieve.
"My personal target is very simple, to develop the team to a higher level of quality. I am sure if you are able to improve the quality of the individual players as well as the team, then for sure at the end you will get the result that you want,” he said.
In the meantime, Subahan explained that he had sent a letter of appeal to the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to consider Malaysia's automatic participation in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
This was following the Japanese team, who won the gold medal at the recent Asian Games, had already confirmed their spot as the host of the Olympic Games in 2020.
He said Malaysia should be given a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as it had emerged as the Asian Games silver medalists behind Japan.
"But that cannot be considered at this time because it is outside the jurisdiction of FIH and must go through the IOC [International Olympic Council]. I am going to New Delhi, India, at the end of this month to attend the FIH congress and we will also appeal there, "he said.
(Picture: Twitter/Malaysian Hockey Confederation)