BALJIT SINGH Charun (pic) was the surprise inclusion when national coach Tai Beng Hai named his 18 for the World League Round Two in Singapore on Jan 17-25.
Baljit was left out in the cold last year, as he was
dropped from the World Cup as well as the Asian Games and only played in
the Commonwealth Games.
The squad, to be led by penalty corner
flicker and defender Razie Rahim, have been tasked to finish top-two in
Singapore as there teams will get the chance to play in the World League
Semi-finals where tickets to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics await.
"We have selected the best and the target is for the team to enter the
final as only three teams will play in the next qualifier either in
Argentina or Belgium," said Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC)
vice-president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad.
Beng Hai again reiterated that the tournament will start at the semi-finals stage for his players.
"We should make the semi-finals, where the actual tournament will start
as we need to make it into the final and claim the World League
Semi-finals ticket early.
"And as the top-ranked team in the tournament, the target is achievable," said Beng Hai.
Malaysia are in Group A with Oman, Ukraine and Singapore while in Group B are Japan, Poland, Bangladesh and Singapore.
All eight teams qualify for the quarter-finals, and Malaysia must
finish as group champions to play against likely opponents Bangladesh of
Seasoned goalkeeper S. Kumar, who helped Malaysia qualify
for the last World Cup by being a pillar in the penalty shoot-out
against Japan in the World League Semi-finals, had a word of caution.
"I am ready to help the country qualify for the next round, but my
mates and I know that lower ranked teams are no longer push-overs and we
need to subdue them in the first two quarters by scoring as many goals
"If not, they grow in confidence and will be difficult to handle in the next two quarters," said Kumar.
His caution is timely, as Malaysia did take Trinidad and Tobago lightly
in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and suffered a humiliating 4-2 defeat
in the hand of the minnows.
Baljit, after being sidelined by previous coaches, has the full backing of Beng Hai.
"I ready to play for the country again, and give my best to take the
team to the next level. I missed the World Cup, so my next dream is to
play in the Rio Olympics," said Baljit.
Baljit was an unfortunate
casualty last year, as after helping Malaysia finish fifth in the World
League Semi-finals and qualifying for the World Cup, he was bundled out
of the team unceremonially and missed a lifetime chance to play in The
TEAM: Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin;
Defenders: Azlan Misron, Baljit Singh Charun, Sukri Mutalib, Izad
Hakimi, Razie Rahim; Midfielders: Shahrun Nabil, Faiz Helmi, Meor Azuan,
Fitri Saari, Marhan Jalil, Nabil Fiqri; Forwards: Tengku Ahmad
Tajuddin, Faizal Saari, Izwan Firdaus, Firhan Ashaari, Haziq Samsul.