Friday, June 21, 2013
NATIONAL coach Paul Revington injected two more youth into his final squad yesterday, as he prepares to battle the best in the World League Semi-finals in Johor Baru on June 29-July 7.
He had named 16 players earlier, but then got embroiled in a quit drama, before making a come-back and naming Firhan Ashaari, 20, and Norhizzat Sumantri, 21, yesterday.
The other youth in the side are Faiz Helmi, 21, Faizal
Saari, 22, Izad Hakimi, 20, Fitri Saari, 20, Marhan Jalil, 23 and Izwan Firdaus, 24.
Only both the goalkeepers and Chua Boon Huat have hit 30 while the rest are young, but with plenty of experience playing at various levels.
S. Kumar, 33, is the best in Asia, while his assistant Roslan Jamaluddin, 34, is a reliable replacement. Chua, at 33, still has a youthful bounce and proved his worth by helping Malaysia into the final of the Azlan Shah Cup with deft goals.
The top-three from Johor Baru are assured of a spot in the Netherlands World Cup next year, failing which Malaysia will have to make an attempt via the Asia Cup in Ipoh.
For warm-ups, Malaysia play Argentina on June 25 and Germany on June 26 (subject to the haze readings) before starting their journey in the World League Semi-finals in Group B with England, Pakistan and South Africa.
In Group A are Germany, Argentina, Japan and South Korea. All eight teams advance to the quarter-finals.
“We have selected the best, and as usual, the target is to play in the final of the tournament and qualify for the World Cup,” said Revington.
However, the early indications are that Malaysia are likely to meet strong opposition in the quatrer-finals, and making the grade through the World League does not look as easy as it does on paper.
Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin; Defenders: Baljit Singh, Razie Rahim, Nabil Fiqri, Shahrun Nabil; Mid fielders: Shukri Mutalib, Azlan Misron, Chua Boon Huat, Izwan Firdaus, Izad Hakimi; Strikers: Faizal Saari, Fitri Saari, Marhan Jalil, Tengku Ahmad Tajudin, Faiz Helmi, Firhan Ashaari, Norhizzat Sumantri.