KUALA LUMPUR: Seasoned campaigner Roslan Jamaluddin may have experience on his side, but a rookie 13 years his junior is looking good to upstage him in the national hockey squad.
The 35-year-old Perak-born goalkeeper, who featured in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2002 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, is feeling the heat from rookie Mohd Hafizuddin Othman, who performed well in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh last month.
The 22-year-old Junior World Cupper Hafizuddin from Terengganu marked his debut in the tournament with a number of commendable saves, which contributed to Malaysia finishing as runners-up to Australia in the six-nation tournament.
Roslan did not feature in the tournament as he was nursing an ankle injury.
There are four goalkeepers in the training squad. Apart from Roslan and Hafizuddin, there is Mohd Hazrul Faiz Ahmad Sobri and first choice goalkeeper S. Kumar, who will feature in the Champions Challenge I tournament in Kuantan from April 26-May 4.
Kumar did not feature in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup as he was still recovering from a hamstring injury picked up during the Hockey India League in February.
Roslan, who has been representing Malaysia since the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, admitted he would face a strong challenge from Hafizuddin for a place in the Champions Challenge I tournament.
“Hafizuddin has proven that he has the capabilities to play well at the senior level. He made some fine saves at the Azlan Shah Cup and he looks confident of making the cut for the Champions Challenge I.
“The pressure is on me to fight for a place in the tournament in Kuantan,” said Roslan, who has 218 caps.
Roslan added that he has to perform well in the six friendly matches against the China national team (in Bukit Jalil from April 9-20) if he hopes to earn a place for the tournament in Kuantan.
“The players named for the Champions Challenge I would also be the first choice to feature in the World Cup (in The Hague from May 31-June 15),” said Roslan.
For the Champions Challenge I, Malaysia will open their Group B campaign against France on April 26. Their other matches are against South Korea (April 27) and Canada (April 29).
Group A comprises New Zealand, Japan, Ireland and Poland.
The winners of the tournament will gain an automatic berth for next year’s Champions Trophy.