Seven players who represented Malaysia in the victorious Asia Junior Cup were given the nod for inclusion in the squad for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
In what coach Tai Beng Hai states is a team for the future, the fusion of yoingsters and experienced players will carry the Malaysian challenge in a tournament that sees the participation of Great Britain, Argentina, New Zealand, South Korea, Pakistan and India.
“This is a bold move by the coach and we at MHC support his decision to include the younger players,” said MHC Senior Vice President Dato’ Nur Azmi Ahmad.
“It is not the end for those who are droppeds, just that they have to work harder from now on since there are several promising youngsters fighting for their places.”
Those included are brothers Faizal and Fitri Saari, Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi, Mohd Firhan Ashaari, all of whom had donned the senior team colours before.
The new inclusions are junior skipper Mohd Noor Faeez Ibrahim, Izzat Sumantri and Muhd Ramadhan Mohd Rosli.
Those who played in the Olympic Qualifier in Dublin but were dropped from the squad for the Azlan Shah Cup are Azreen Rizal and Nabil Fiqri Mohd Nor.
While 17 players are already named, the final spot will be a toss up between Mohd Razie Andul Rahim and Muhammad Izzat Mohd Rahim.
Mohd Madzli Ikmar who was the skipper in Dublin had announced his retirement from international hockey in April.
“It was not an easy decision to make to drop players but the youngsters showed more hunger and desire hence their inclusion,” said Beng Hai.
“The players haver vowed to give their best in the tournament and while me may lose out on experience, we aim to make it up with determination.
“I am looking forward to an interesting tournament and I am sure those selected will be out to prove a point.”
His thoughts were echoed by Assistant Coach Nor Saiful Zaini Nasiruddin.
“We hope that the fans and media will not be too hard on the players as we need to encourage them. We seek co-operation from the media to help nuture these youngsters and encourage them and not break their confidence,” said Nor Saiful.
“Thus I appeal to the fans to come to the stadium and provide support and encouragement, Youngsters need time to prove themselves and it will be great if all are behind this team.”
Meanwhile Beng Hai said he was unfazed by the speculations on his position after the Azlan Shah Cup.
“I only have one thought on my mind – that is to ensure this team does well in the Azlan Shah cup,” said Beng Hai.
“What happens to me and Saiful is secondary as Malaysian hockey is what matters.”
The SAS Squad:
S. Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin, Baljit Singh, Mohd Shukri Mutalib, Muhd Razie Abd Rahim or Muhd Izzat Mohd Rahim, Muhd Noor Faeez Ibrahim, Muhd Amin Rahim, Muhd Marhan Mohd Jalil, Muhd Ramadhan Mohd Rosli, Azlan Misron, Muhd Fitri Saari, Shahrun Nabil Abdullah, Izzat Sumantri, Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi, Faisal Saari, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tg Abdul Jalil, Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi, Muhd Firhan Ashaari.