The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) has named 35 players for the senior men’s national training squad that will begin training on Oct 5 under national head coach Stephen Van Huizen and assisted by Lim Chiow Chuan.
However, only 21 players will report for camp on the first day of training on Monday while the rest will join at a later date as they have personal obligations to attend.
Of the selected 35, three players are currently with the National Junior squad in preparation for the upcoming Junior Asia Cup which will be held from Nov 12-22 in Kuantan, Pahang while another three are on attachment with clubs overseas.
The juniors are midfielder Meor Muhammad Azuan Hasan and forwards Muhammad Sharil Saabah and Muhammad Haziq Samsul. Defender Baljit Singh is playing his trade in the Spanish League while both Faiz Helmi and Rashid Baharom are playing for their respective clubs in the German League.
MHC Chief Executive Officer, Logan Raj, said: “The coaches are constantly in communication with the three players to ensure they adhere to specific programmes drawn out. This will allow them to be of the required physiological standards when they resume training in Malaysia.”
“All the players selected have accepted their invitation to join the training programme albeit several others not able to join on Monday for various reasons.”
However, Van Huizen added that they have excluded goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin, defender Azlan Misron and forward Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin from the training squad for multiple reasons.
“For Roslan, MHC has to make a decision. We have been keeping Roslan and S. Kumar for some time and they are nearing 36 and 37 years of age already. If we keep Roslan in the squad for another six months or one year and then we have to make a very tough decision after that when he wants to carry on,” added Van Huizen.
He lamented that at this point of time MHC is in the process of a transition period of rebuilding the team and has to make crucial decisions which will benefit Malaysian hockey in the long term.
Kumar, who has played in the World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games has indicated his commitment to go through the programme until 2018 and does not want to end it this way.
“We felt that by keeping Kumar is a natural choice for us as he can guide the junior goalkeepers. I also had a talk with Roslan and he has indicated he would like to retire soon,” said Van Huizen at a press conference today to announce the training squad which was also attended by MHC Technical Director, Terry Walsh and ChiowChuan.
Azlan, who has more than 300 international caps, has also indicated his desire to retire after the World Cup qualifiers.
“He is already 34 now and is fully aware the physical strength of playing in international tournaments is very demanding. Looking two years down the road it is the right time,” said Van Huizen. “By the time we reach Round 2 or Round 3 of the qualifiers we need to carry on the challenges with players who capable of making great inroads.”
As for Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, the forward is nursing a shoulder injury at this point of time.
“We cannot drop all the senior players and this transition period is important for us to move on. They have contributed a lot to Malaysian hockey but we have to move on for the future,” said Van Huizen, adding that the national team will be built around several core players together with the youngsters.
He cited Kumar, drag-flick specialist Razie Rahim, SukriMutalib, Nabil Fiqri and FaizalSaari as several seniors around to guide the younger players and this is also a chance for the youngsters to grow.
There are no major tournaments for the senior team in the near future except for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April 2016 and the Asian Champions Trophy in November.
“This is best six months we have for the players to build on their physical condition and we have a very good comprehensive programme for them to make an impact. It is a crucial time for us,” said Van Huizen.
The Training Squad -
Goalkeepers: S.Kumar (TNB), Mohammad Hairi Abdul Rahman (Sapura), Muhammad Hafizuddin Othman (THT), MohamadHazrulFaiz (THT).
Defenders: Razie Rahim (KLHC), Mohd Noor Faeez Ibrahim (KLHC), Sukri Abdul Mutalib (KLHC), AzlamHanafiah (Maybank), IzadHakimi (Sapura), Harmesh Singh (Sapura), Harmeet Singh (Sapura), Shahrun Nabil (THT), ShahzrilIrwan (TNB), Baljit Singh (UniKL).
Midfielders: Nabil Fiqri (KLHC), Muhammad Azri Hassan (KLHC), Harvinder Singh (KLHC), Joel Samuel Van Huizen (Sapura), FaizHelmi (Sapura), MarhanJalil (Sapura), FitriSaari (THT), Ramadan Rosli (TNB), NorhizzatSumantri (TNB), MeorMuhamadAzuanHasan (UniKL).
Strikers: Rashid Baharom (KLHC), Mohd SyaminYusof (KLHC), DediAriyadi (KLHC), Muhammad Hafiz Zainol (Maybank), FaridzulAfiq (Sapura), Dangerous Lee (Sapura), FaizalSaari (THT), FirhanAshari (THT), ShahrilSaabah (TNB), HaziqSamsul (UniKL), IzwanFirdaus Ahmad Tajuddin (UniKL).