NATIONAL chief coach Tai Beng Hai finally named his final 18 for the World League Semi-finals, with three players having less than 30 caps.
The WL Semifinals, on June 20-July 5 in Antwerp, Belgium, is an Olympic Qualifier with the top-four assured of making the trip to Rio de Janeiro next year.
However, the young trio ahve played in many international tournaments before and are not wet behind the ears.
Meor Azuan (29 caps), Shahril Saabah (29 caps) and Haziq Shamsul (17 caps) will carry a heavy burden of making sure Malaysia do not miss the Olympics again -- a platform the country last played in Sydney 2000.
"Although the three have very few caps, they have played in the World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games before and they made the squad on merit," said Beng Hai.
Haziq, Meor and Shahril played in the last Junior World Cup in New Delhi where Malaysia finished fourth, while Shahril also played in the Netherlands World Cup. Meor has also played in the Commonwealth Games.
Malaysia are in Group B with China, Ireland, Great Britain and Belgium. While in Group A are Australia, Pakistan, India, France and Poland.
Only four teams from each group play in the quarter-finals, and Malaysia must beat China and Ireland (their first two games) to be in a comfortable position and avoid Australia in the last-eight if they want to play in Rio de Janeiro.
China are already in Europe playing friendlies, and yesterday they beat France 3-1. India also left for Europe yesterday.
"We will leave for Europe on June 14 and play a few friendlies with the Dutch under-21 side as well as Brazil for warm-up and acclimatisation.
"On China who are our first opponents, I believe they have improved much but still, we will be looking for our opening three points against them on June 21," said Beng Hai.
And Malaysia have plenty of rest after China, as their next match against Ireland is three days away -- on June 25. And Malaysia have plenty of rest after China, as their next match against Ireland is three days away -- on June 25. Malaysia play Belgium the next day and Great Britain on June 28.
Controversial striker Faizal Saari, who went Awol for a month after the Singapore World League Round Two, was given another chance by the new management in the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC).
He was not included in the Australian and Europe Tours, but Beng Hai said his fitness level is still good.
"We did a fitness test on Sunday, and all the 18 showed good results," said Beng Hai.
MALAYSIA: S. Kumar (gk), Roslan Jamaluddin (gk), Baljit Singh Charun, Razie Rahim (captain), Izwan Firdaus, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Faizal Saari, Izad Hakimi, Marhan Jalil, nabil Fiqri, Azlan Misron, Firhan Ashaari, Shahrun Nabil, Sukri Mutalib, Faiz Helmi, Meor Azuan, Shahril Saabah, Haziq Shamsul.