Be thinkers, not followers.
That’s the mantra of national coach Arul Selvaraj for his players since he took over in 2020.
And the Asia Cup in Jakarta on May 23 to June 1 will be the first tournament for Arul to see whether the Malaysian team adopt his philosophy.
He hopes to see his players becoming more cerebral and not be like robots on the field.
“I have been coaching my players to plan on their own so that they will become smarter with the ball and not just wait for coaches to tell them what to do.
“My players watched Oman and Bangladesh play in the recent AHF Cup (on TV) and have been planning for the two matches against them.
“Coaches can help only until a match starts, after which players must make their own decisions on the pitch.
“That’s the only way for them to progress,” said Arul.
In the Asia Cup, Malaysia are in Group B with South Korea, Bangladesh and Oman while Group A consists of India, Pakistan, Japan and Indonesia.
Malaysia must finish on the Asia Cup podium as the top three finishers (except for India) in the tournament, qualify for the India World Cup in January.
Arul’s team have prepared for the Asia Cup by playing in a triangular with Japan and Britain last year, as well as going on a 10-match playing Tour of Britain.
Malaysia will play a friendly match against Japan today in Jakarta before they begin their World Cup qualifier against Oman on Monday.