Alexander Lukashenko has slammed his country's ice hockey team ©Getty Images

Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko has slammed the country's ice hockey team and demanded future performances at major tournaments must improve.

At a session dedicated to the development of the sport in the country, Lukashenko was highly critical of his nation's team following a string of poor performances.

“If we decided to develop this sport let's do our best for it," he said according to BelTA.

"But the results are bad.

“We saw a disastrous performance at the Olympic qualification tournament where we lost to Slovenia.

"We have been on the edge of being relegated for the second year in a row [at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships].

"The players gave an interview before the last two games and they said one thing: no one was thinking about playoffs, they only hoped to stay in the top division.

"This is the attitude of our players."

Belarus, currently ranked 10th in the world, narrowly avoided relegation at the recent IIHF World Championships in Paris and Cologne.

They finished seventh out of eight teams in Pool B with Slovenia eventually relegated after they failed to win a single match.

Their highest ever position at the World Championships is sixth, which they managed to achieve in 2006.

Belarus, left, were beaten by Slovenia, right, to Pyeongchang 2018 qualification ©Getty Images
Belarus, left, were beaten by Slovenia, right, to Pyeongchang 2018 qualification ©Getty Images

To add further misery one of the Pyeongchang 2018 qualification group stages was held in Minsk in September but the host nation failed to reach next year's Winter Olympic Games.

This time Belarus finished behind Slovenia, who won all three of their matches to secure their place in South Korea.

They also failed to qualify for Sochi 2014, with their last Olympic appearance coming at Vancouver 2010 where they took ninth place.

Belarus narrowly missed out on a medal at Salt Lake City 2002, where they were beaten in the bronze medal match by Russia.

Their recent form has not prevented Minsk being awarded the 2021 IIHF World Championships alongside Riga in Latvia in recent weeks.

Belarus and Latvia gained a combined 55 votes over 52 for Finland, which put forward the cities of Tampere and Helsinki as their location for the flagship tournament.

The 14,994-seat Minsk Arena, which has two practice rinks on site, will be used as the primary venue in 2021.

The bid presentation recalled the atmosphere of 2014 with its downtown fan village and fan zone, as well as the Minsk Arena being just 15 minutes from the city centre and the airport.