16/04/2024 08:03 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 (Bernama) -- Head coach Sarjit Singh has dropped a hint that, the composition of the Speedy Tigers squad for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup next month, would be spearheaded by four senior players.

The four are goalkeeper Muhammad Hafizuddin Othman, 32, defender Muhammad Marhan Jalil, 34, midfielder Mohd Fitri Saari, 31, and Faizal Saari, 33, all of whom have extensive experience with the national men’s hockey team. The Saari brothers, who is playing at the Bangladesh Hockey League, will join the training squad end of this month.

Sarjit, who is now in rebuilding the team towards the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games dreams, is set to shortlist 18-players from his current 30-member team for the invitational tournament in Ipoh from May 4-11 on  May 1st.

“I hope these four will be, of course be fit and are injury free. We are going to build a team around them, because others are very young…Hope these four players will guide the juniors

“However, not every player has a guaranteed place, we want to give a fair chance to all. However, as senior players they have to guide the young players, and we will assess them in terms of training,”  he told reporters when met during training session at the National Hockey Stadium here, today.

The 62-year-old Olympian will announce the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup squad after their first friendly against the world number 10 New Zealand on May 1 in Ipoh, in time to test them in a second friendly against world number 11 South Korea the following day.

Sarjit said, the players will have about 35-40 matchplays to prove their worth this year. 

After the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which is Sarjit’s first assignment, the Speedy Tigers are set to play in the Nations Cup tournament in Poland from May 30 to June 1 and the Asian Champions Trophy from Sept 8-17 in Inner Mongolia, China.

“Not easy for the players to be in the final 18 list. It is also not easy for the coaches to select because this group consists a lot of young players, but we can have a good rotation of players for these tournaments,” he added.

World number 13 Malaysia, will start their title defence in Ipoh against three-time champion Pakistan on May 4, followed by matches against Canada (May 5), two-time champion New Zealand (May 7), Japan (May 8) and three-time champion South Korea (May 10).

Based on the tournament format, the top two teams after the round robin will challenge for the title, while the third-fourth placed teams will fight for the bronze.


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