Malaysian hockey team celebrating their gold medal after beating Myanmar 14 -0 in the final game of the KL2017 Sea Games at National Hockey Stadium, Bukit Jalil. Pix by Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali

KUALA LUMPUR: National hockey coach Stephen Van Huizen has defended the decision to field Malaysia's strongest side in the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games (KL2017) field hockey competition.

Stephen admitted that the standard of competition at KL2017 was lower than his team were used to but stressed that it has been his players wish to compete in the Sea Games on home soil.

"This is the only team we have as there are four hockey events at KL2017 which has required a large pool of players," said Stephen.

"In fact, 12 of the players in our squad, including Sukri Mutalib (captain), have never played in the Sea Games before.

"Is it fair for him to end his career without a Sea Games medal?

"It was a good experience for them, it is not often that players get to compete in the Sea Games at home."

Stephen added that other teams from the region did show some improvement at KL2017 listing Myanmar, Thailand and Singapore as teams which have progressed.

Featuring the same side that qualified for the 2018 India World Cup, the national team were peerless at KL2017 and scored 39 goals in four round robin match, conceding only twice.

Malaysia opened with an 18-1 win over Indonesia followed by wins over Thailand (6-0), Singapore (9-1) and Myanmar (6-0) in the round robin stage. The team then hammered Myanmar 14-0 in the final.

From the 53 goals scored overall, Faizal Saari contributed the most with 12 goals followed by Razie Rahim (10), Shahril Saabah (7), Fitrie Saari (6), Nik Muhammad Aiman Nik Rozemi (6) and Ramadan Rosli (5).

Translated from Berita Harian

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