The Four-Nation International Festival of Hockey in Melbourne from Nov 23-27 will provide an opportunity for several players to step up the gear against formidable oppositions.
Malaysia Tigers head coach, Stephen van Huizen, disclosed this today after watching the players go through the paces during an-hour long physical training at the National Sports Council gymnasium in Bukit Jalil.
“The Four-Nation in Melbourne will certainly witness several players stepping in for the larger experience in our preparation for the Hockey World League Round 2 in Trinidad & Tobago next March,” said Van Huizen.
“The Asian Champions Trophy in Kuantan recently was very important and equal emphasis is given to the Four-Nation in Melbourne. We have a major task ahead and every player in the national team will be involved in match experience,” he added.
As of now Malaysia Tigers will be devoid of penalty corner specialist Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim and midfielder Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor who are undergoing inspector training course at the Police Training Centre in Kuala Lumpur since May. The duo was granted permission by their employers – The Royal Malaysian Police – to feature in the QNET 4th Asian Champions Trophy at the Wisma Belia Stadium in Kuantan from Oct 20-30.
Midfielder Fitri Saari and defender Faiz Helmi Jali will also not join the 18-member Malaysia Tigers who leave for Melbourne this Saturday as they are currently pursuing their studies at University Malaya.
The Four-Nation International Festival of Hockey in Melbourne involves QNET 4th Asian Champions Trophy winners India, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. The Indians will also play two test series against the Kookaburras on Nov 29 and 30.
Malaysia Tigers will play New Zealand in the opening match on Nov 23 followed by the Australia-India encounter. Van Huizen’s boys take on India on Nov 24 and Australia on Nov 26 (Saturday).
Meanwhile, after India’s successful campaign in the Asian Champions Trophy where they beat rivals Pakistan in the final, the Indian hockey team will head Down Under captained by the experienced drag-flick specialist VR Raghunath in the absence of PR Sreejesh who is carrying a knee injury.
The responsibilities of his deputy will be shouldered by defender and penalty corner specialist Rupinder Pal Singh who showcased splendid form and was adjudged top scorer at the Kuantan Asian Champions Trophy.
Akash Chikte who came up with outstanding performance in the final of ACT will be India’s custodian in Melbourne.