NATIONAL hockey players Shukri Mutalib and Faizal Saari returned from Australia yesterday, after their sojourn with Southern Hotshots was cut short due to a visa problem.
Shukri and Faizal had helped Southern Hotshots into the quarter-finals of the Australian Hockey League (AHL) before returning home to play in the Razak Cup last week.
However, when they went back to Australia on July 29, they were stopped at the Australian immigration.
“The snag here is because Faizal and Shukri only had the normal six months visa and not Sporting Visa as required under Australian law.
“This came about after their club only requested from the MHF (Malaysian Hockey Federation) a release letter and from the chief coach (Tai Beng Hai), a no-objection letter to skip a Europe Tour,” said MHF secretary Maninderjit Singh.
The club paid for their tickets, while the players obtained visas on their own.
Maninderjit also said there was some miscommunication among the players and immigration officials upon their arrival in Australia for the knock-out stage.
“The players failed to explain that they do not receive a salary from the AHL Club to play for them, but only allowance from the National Sports Council and also allowance from Southern Hotshots for coaching children there.
“However, the immigration still allowed them in and the MHF were in the process of helping them get the Sporting Visa when we discovered that it takes two weeks to apply for one.
“And since Southern Hotshots were not sure of reaching the semi-finals and finals in the AHL, MHF decided that instead of loitering around for another two weeks in Aus tralia, the players will be recalled to play in the friendlies against Japan from Saturday,” said Maninderjit.
Faizal enjoyed a good run with Southern Hotshots where he scored three goals in five matches. And while playing in the state-level Adelaide League, he scored seven goals off three matches for Forestville.