Sunday, May 20, 2012
SULTAN Azlan Shah has, for the first time, sent out a stern message to the Malaysian hockey team not to take his tournament in Ipoh from May 24-June 3 lightly.
The former Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) president and current Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) president said this after holding a special meeting with tournament stake-holders on Saturday.
“My message to the Malaysian team is not to treat my tournament as a practice session. Give more respect to it. The Malaysian team must be serious,” said Azlan Shah.
He made that comment after a closed door meeting with stand-in-team manager George Koshy, Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) senior vice president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad, AHF secretary general Tan Sri P. Alagendra and National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Zolkples Embong.
The meting, among others, discussed the composition of the team for the Azlan Shah Cup.
When asked if he would like to see a bigger pool of juniors in the Malaysian senior team: “Yes we did discuss about that, but I can’t tell you how many juniors (from the Junior Asia Cup squad) should be included, but suffice to say that the juniors should be given a chance to play against the best in the world,” said Azlan Shah.
The Invitational tournament will feature six Olympic teams in Britain, New Zealand, South Korea, Argentina, Pakistan and India.
Seniors coach Tai Beng Hai has included eight juniors, who won the Junior Asia Cup gold, into his training squad and they played a friendly against New Zealand yesterday.
“I can’t name the final squad yet because Razie Rahim (main senior penalty corner flicker) picked up an injury in training and I need a few days to find out how serious it is.
“I will be naming the squad only after I fond out if Razie can play or not,” said Beng Hai.
The eight juniors who might just get a chance of a lifetime to play in the Azlan Shah Cup are Faizal Saari, Fitri Saari, Firhan Ashaari, Faiz Helmi, Nor Izzat Sumantri, Mohamed Ramadhan, Noor Faeez Ibrahim and Amir Farid.
Malaysia, who ended at last in the seven-team tournament last year, yesterday New Zealand won 4-2 in the warm-up friendly.
“We might name the team on Tuesday, as there are some injury problems and also we need to give more time to the juniors to assimilate before we can name the final squad,” said team manager Stephen van Huizen.