Former skipper Mohd Shahrun Nabil seen here in a Test match against Ireland last year, is fighting for a spot in the national hockey team for the Champions Challenge 1 tournament to be held in Kuantan from April 26 to May 4. - Filepic
KUALA LUMPUR: Season campaigner Mohd Shahrun Nabil has a big fight on his hands to earn a place in the national hockey team for the Champions Challenge 1 hockey tournament in Kuantan from April 26 to May 4.
Last month, the 29-year-old midfielder from Kuala Terengganu, lost the skipper’s armband when he was not named for last month’s the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup where Malaysia finished runners-up to Australia.
Former national chief coach Paul Revington made Shahrun captain for the last Champions Challenge 1 tournament in Argentina in November 2012. He was also the skipper when Malaysia won the gold medal at last December’s Myanmar SEA Games.
In his absence from the national team last month, rookies Mohd Azri Hassan, Mohd Ramadan Rosli and Meor Azuan Mohamed Hasan impressed national chief coach K. Dharmaraj.
Aside from the trio, Shahrun will have to vie for his place against the other midfielders – Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil, Mohd Fitri Saari, Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor and Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib.
Shahrun, who played 264 times for the country, admitted that his place in the Champions Challenge 1 is at stake.
“The rookies have proven in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup that they are capable of playing well at senior level.
“Although I am an experienced player, coach K. Dharmaraj says that he will name the team for the Champions Challenge 1 based on current form and not on experience,” said Shahrun.
To make the cut, Shahrun will have to impress coach Dharmaraj in the six friendly matches between Malaysia and China which will be played at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from April 13-20.
Shahrun said that he is not too concerned about losing the captain’s armband to defender Azlan Misron, who was the skipper during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
“What is important is to win a place in the Champions Challenge 1 team as the players named for the tournament will most likely be picked for the World Cup (in The Hague from May 31 to June 15),” said Shahrun.
For the Champions Challenge 1, Malaysia are drawn in Group B with France, South Korea and Canada while Group A comprises New Zealand, Ireland, Japan and Poland.
The winners of tournament will gain an automatic berth for next year’s Champions Trophy.