16/04/2024 10:13 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 (Bernama) -- High determination and sheer perseverance has kept young goalkeeper Che Shahrul Azmi Che Saufi on track, allaying fears of early premature retirement until now, finally getting a chance to earn his stripes with the national men’s hockey team. 

The 23-year-old player from Negeri Sembilan revealed that he once felt hopelessly adrift when he could not get a national call-up despite helping the country's under-18 hockey 5-a-side (Hockey 5s) squad win the gold medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"There are many who would have quit, but I know what my standard is, so I kept looking forward to the next tournaments," he said during a training session with the ‘Speedy Tigers’ at Bukit Jalil National Hockey Stadium today.

Sticking to that grit, Che Shahrul continued his passion to help Malaysia win the silver medal at the World Cup Hockey 5s in Oman earlier this year, in addition to a sterling run in his 2024 Malaysian Hockey League debut to help Nurinsafi (Sporting) finish in fourth place.

This managed to hook the heart of manager Sarjit Singh to finally call him to join the Speedy Tigers training camp last month.

Although this is the first time he has been called up to the senior training squad, Che Shahrul believes he can make it to the final 18-player list for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (May 4-11) squad in Ipoh, Perak, out of 30 players who are in training camp now.

He faces stiff competition from experienced players such as Muhammad Hafizuddin Othman, Muhamad Zaimi Mat Deris and Adrian Andy Albert to grab two goalkeeper positions for the invitational tournament.

Sarjit will announce the squad to defend the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on May 1, after the friendly match against New Zealand in Ipoh.

Malaysia, ranked 13th in the world, will start the campaign against three-time champions Pakistan on May 4, followed by action against Canada (May 5), two-time champions New Zealand (May 7), Japan (May 8) and three-time champions South Korea (May 10).

Based on the format of the tournament, the top two teams in each round of the league will challenge for the championship, while the teams in third and fourth place will play in the third-place playoff.






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