AFTER playing bridesmaid for the last two years, Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah wants a golden farewell before he vacates his seat on May 13.
However, with Australia and India sending their best players, Malaysia might even struggle to play in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup which starts on Sunday.
The other challenges for the title are New Zealand, South Korea and Canada.
Malaysia lost to Australia in both the finals, with 3-2 and 8-3 scores respectively. The tournament, incepted in 1983, has yet to see Malaysia lift the trophy but have finished second five times in 1985, 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2014.
"Sadly, we have yet to win this title but this time, we are looking forward to lift the Azlan Shah Cup for the first time. I truly hope we can win this year," said Tengku Abdullah who will not seek re-election in the May 13 elections.
Coach Tai Beng Hai named 20 players with two to be dropped after the New Zealand friendly. The prominent name missing from the list was Fitri Saari, who has some personal issues to sort out.
World champions Australia, with eight Azlan Shah Cup titles under their belt, are almost sure bets to claim the ninth as well.
The Kookaburras' squad is a combination of new and senior players while seeing the return of some of the injured.
Captain Mark Knowles will return to the international fold after recovering from an ankle injury he suffered in the Commonwealth Games.
Two of the Kookaburras’ most experienced players, Jamie Dwyer and Glenn Turner will return after being out since the World Cup.
Kookaburras Head Coach Graham Reid said: "What I love about the Azlan Shah Cup is that it’s one of the toughest places to play hockey. With high humidity and heat conditions it tests our players both physically and mentally. Our opponents will be tough to play and it will be a great competition to be a part of.”
As for India, midfielder Sardar Singh will lead a full side, with just three changes from the last December's Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar.
MALAYSIA: Goalkeepers: Roslan Jamaluddin (191 caps), S. Kumar (242); Azreen Rizal (51), Baljit Singh (164), Marhan Jalil (139), Izwan Firdaus (82), Haziq Shamsul (11), Faizal Saari (138), Shahrun Nabil (218), Sukri Mutalib (211), Firhan Ashaari (64), Azlan Misron (336), Nabil Fiqri (140), Razie Rahim (167), Faiz Helmi (51), Meor Azuan (23), Tengku Ahmad Tajudin (192), Ahmad Kazamirul (27), Ramadan Rosli (39), Izad Hakimi (46).