Kuantan (18 Oct, 2016): Malaysian penalty-corner specialist Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim is set to pose a problem to goalkeepers in the QNET 4th Men’s Asian Champions Trophy which begins on Thursday in Kuantan, Pahang.
The 29-year-old defender makes a return to the national squad together with midfielder Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor and forward Faizal Saari for the six-nation Asia’s premier tournament after a long absence.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation announced the squad of 18 players for the ACT 2016 on Monday night after a friendly match against India which the 2011 Champions Trophy winners won 2-0.
And this has given Malaysian national coach Stephen van Huizen more options going into the fourth edition of the QNET Men’s Asian Champions Trophy from Oct 20-30 at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan.
Penalty corner specialist Mohd Razie and Nabil have been given the green light by their employers – the Royal Malaysian Police – to feature in the tournament. Both players have been undergoing inspector training course at the Police Training Centre in Kuala Lumpur since May.
Terengganu forward Faizal retained his place in the national senior squad after a ‘six-month break’ following an inspiring performance with the National Development squad in the Australia Hockey League and scored five goals.
Defender Sukri Abdul Mutalib has been named captain while veteran goalkeeper S. Kumar will once again hold the fort between the posts with Hafizuddin Othman his deputy.
The national team have been hit by injuries to three key players – defenders Baljit Singh and Mohamed Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin and forward Mohamed Rashid Baharom. However, Rashid has recovered in time from a toe injury for the crunch opening match of the Champions Trophy against defending champions Pakistan on Thursday.
“There is no doubt that both Razie and Nabil have shown they are a little bit rusty having not played in the local league and in the recent AHL but nevertheless they will improve in every match in the Champions Trophy as the tournament goes on,” said Van Huizen.
“I did not over play them throughout the friendly match against India but they are one of the stronger players in the team. Given time we will see their true potential. But this tournament is going to be tough and as such we must know when to play them and when to rest them in the ACT,” he added.
The friendly match against India, said Van Huizen, gave the Malaysians an insight into what to expect from the Indians who are playing in post Rio Olympics for the first time.
“We have done everything we can after the Australian League. The players have had a good exposure and the friendly against India was good. They (India) are a very strong side, gave us a good practice match and showed us a lot of things that we can still do,” said the former Olympian.
“I am confident we are ready for the match against Pakistan on Thursday (Oct 20) and the players raring to go. The Pakistanis have always been a great team to play against and we cannot look into our past history especially the 1-0 win over them in the Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy. That’s history.”
The Asian Champions Trophy is part of the team’s preparations for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers next year. Besides Malaysia, India and Pakistan, the other teams competing in the 11-day tournament are, Japan, China and Korea.
Stephen Van Huizen, Malaysia Men Head Coach
The top four teams after the round-robin matches advance to the semi-finals.
Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Hafizuddin Othman
Defenders: Razie Abdul Rahim, Sukri Abdul Mutalib (Capt), Najib Abu Hassan, Faiz Helmi Jali, Nazmi Farizal Jazlan
Midfielders: Joel Samuel van Huizen, Nabil Fiqri Mohd Nor, Fitri Saari, Meor Muhammad Azuan, Azri Hassan.
Forwards: Rashid Baharom, Firhan Ashari, Shahril Saabah, Haziq Samsul, Nik Aiman Rozemi, Faizal Saari.
Standby: Ramadan Rosli (Forward) and Hairil Abdul Rahman (Goalkeeper)
Head Coach: Stephen van Huizen