Malaysian reserve goalkeeper S. Kumar (right) hugs Nasihin Nubli after Malaysia beat England to win bronze in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Today, Kumar is among the best in the world. Photo: Getty Images.
THE Malaysian hockey team drew 2-2 with Australia in their final Test yesterday, and coach Tai Beng Hai named three Junior World Cup players for the World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand.
Faizal Saari 18, Marhan Jalil 19, and Ahmad Kazamirul 21, will be representing Malaysia in the Qualifier on Nov 7- 15.
Malaysia lost three matches 3-1, 5-1 and 3-1, and drew 3- 3 and 2-2 in the Five Test series which was used by Beng Hai to name his final-18 for the Qualifier.
Leading the charge will be 30-year-old Madzli Ikmar, who was named as skipper, and 30-year-old goalkeeper S. Ku mar.
Kumar, a seasoned campaigner, received a timely boost when Australian coach Richard Charlesworth said: “Kumar is among the best goalkeepers in the world, and his ex perience will count in the Qualifier.”
“I am among the handful of experienced players in the team, and the Australian coaches’ encouraging words is surely a boost leading to the Qualifier.
“What I am today, is a product of hard work put in by former national coach Paul Lissek. It will not be easy in New Zealand, but I will give my best,” said Kumar.
Beng Hai played five Junior World Cup players in the final Test yesterday, and surprisingly, the youthful squad man aged to match the Australians.
Australia took the lead off B. dancer in the 11th minute, only to see Malaysia level the score in the 14th minute off an Amin Rahim penalty corner flick.
Beng Hai’s men then took the lead off Azlan Misron, who tucked in the ball off a penalty corner set-piece in the 47th minute.
However, D. Guest nailed the equaliser in the 53rd minute to deny Malaysia their glory hour.
However, while praising the Malaysian goalkeeper, Charlesworth also sent in a warning: “We has 25 shots at goal, and 12 penalty corners (in the Fifth Test) and only scored two goals.
“But in the Qualifier, Malaysia can’t afford to give away so many chances to their opponents, especially those who have good penalty corner flickers.”
MALAYSIA: Goalkeepers: S. Kumar (30 years old), Khair ulnizam Ibrahim (25); Defenders: Madzli Ikmar (30), Amin Rahim (29), C. Baljit Singh (22), Jiwa Mohan (29), Ahmad Kazamirul (21).
Midfielders: Shahrun Nabil (24), Sukri Mutalib (23), Kelvinder Singh (24), Nabil Fiqri (22), Jivan Mohan (26), Marhan Jalil (19).
FOrwards: Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (23), Razie Rahim (22), Faizal Saari (18), Azlan Misron (26), S. Selvaraju (24).