PIC: From Left ... Shukri Mutalib, Stephen van Huizen and Razie Rahim.
PIC: From Left ... Stephen van Huizen, Razie Rahim and Syed Syafiq Syed Cholan.
NATIONAL chief coach Stephen van Huizen has closed the door shut on ex-internationals, and prefers to bank on his tested players as well as four youth in a hectic hockey year.
He feels the one-month Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) is not enough to gauge players, as they might have given their best for a short period only.
"Well I know we have a very hectic year, with many tournaments and friendlies arranged, but I will stick with the best available in the country.
"The 24 that I have are the best, and I also have four more young players in the back-up to promote if needed. In fact, after the two friendlies against Argentina I might name one or two young players to replace some injured seniors.
"But there is no need for me to press the panic button and call ex-internationals," said van Huizen yesterday.
He was speaking at a press conference arranged by Astro, who will telecast live matches of the Azlan Shah Cup on March 3-10.
Malaysia will be up against World champions Australia, Olympic champions Argentina, Asia Cup champions India, England and Ireland in the Azlan Shah Cup.
And two weeks later, its off to Gold Coast Australia for the Commonwealth Games (April 4-15) followed by the Asian Games (Aug 18-Sept 2), Asian Champions Trophy (Oct 18-28) and finally the World Cup (Nov 28-Dec 16).
"Its a hectic year, and the main target is to win gold in the Asian Games and qualify for the Olympics so I will use all 24 Podium players as well as the four back up players and not recall ex-internationals who played in the MHL."
The four back-up players are Najib Abu Hassan (TNB), Luqman Nul Hakim (Terengganu HT), Sufi Ismat (Terengganu HT) and Ashran Hamsani (Universiti KL).
And with No 1 goalkeeper S. Kumar's doping case hearing yet to be fixed by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), van Huizen is training Junior World Cup goalkeeper Zaimi Mat Deris, alongside Hairi Abdul Rahman and Hafizuddin Othman.
Among the ex-interantionals who played extremely well during the MHL were defender Baljit Singh (UniKL) and goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin (KLHC).