Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quartet out of Asian Games

By Ajitpal Singh
FORWARD Faizal Saari, Hafifi Hafiz, Ismail Abu and Kevin Lim were left out as newly appointed national hockey coach A. Arulselvaraj named his 20-member training squad yesterday for next month’s Incheon Asian Games.
Arulselvaraj, who will be assisted by Tai Beng Hai, retained 14 members from the team that finished last in the World Cup in May. Nine members from the training squad were also part of the Commonwealth Games team.
Faizal is taking a break from international hockey while Hafifi and Ismail quit the team after the World Cup. As for Kevin, the German-born who played in Glasgow was not selected.
Shahril Saabah will be groomed to take over Faizal’s responsibility as the team’s main forward.
“I will trim down the squad to 16 players for the Asian Games. I may opt to take only one goalkeeper to Incheon depending on the progress of the players in training,” said Arulselvaraj yesterday.
“I spoke to Faizal yesterday (Monday) about returning to the team but he said he would think about it first. I only need players, who still have the passion and are motivated to play for the country.
“I’ve named my training squad and there will be no late inclusions. As for Kevin, I haven’t had the chance to assess him yet.”
The trainees will likely head to Port Dickson today for a short camp before resuming training next week. The team will tentatively head to Incheon for a week-long training stint on Aug 20.
“We want to acclimatise with the conditions in Incheon. However, the trip is still tentative but I’ve written to our Korean counterparts for approval and friendly matches.
“My team may also play friendly matches with teams who are preparing for upcoming local tournaments.”
Arulselvaraj, who replaced K. Dharmaraj on Monday, is eager to prepare his team comprehensively after back-to-back failures in the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. The Asian Games gold medallists will qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
The squad: S. Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin, Hafizuddin Othman, Norhizzat Sumantri, Marhan Jalil, Fitri Saari, Izwan Firdaus Ahmad Tajuddin, Shahrun Nabil Abdullah, Shukri Mutalib, Firhan Ashaari, Azlan Misron, Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor, Faiz Helmi Jali, Meor Muhd Azuan Hasan, Baljit Singh, Tengku Ahmad Tajudin Abdul Jalil, Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin, Shahril Saabah, Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Razie Rahim.