National hockey player Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Abdul Jalil (right) is one of the most experienced players in the team with 221 caps to date. - BERNAMA
KUALA LUMPUR: Forward Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Abdul Jalil’s goals have dried up but he’s hoping to hit a rich vein of form when Malaysia open their Champions Challenge I campaign against France in Kuantan on Saturday.
The Perlis-born player is the most experienced of the six forwards in the national hockey team and is likely to shoulder the burden of not only scoring field goals but also from penalty corner set pieces.
The other forwards are Mohd Firhaan Ashari, Faizal Saari, Mohd Shahril Saabah, Ismail Abu and Rashid Bahrom.
“I’m very frustrated with myself. I just don’t have a clue as to why I’ve suddenly lost my scoring touch. I’m doing everything else right on the pitch ... it’s just that I haven’t been able to find the net consistently of late,” said the 28-year-old Tengku Ahmad, who has 221 caps to his name.
“But I’m very grateful that the coach (K. Dharmaraj) still has faith in me. I hope to repay him with a good performance in Kuantan.”
In the Champions Challenge I tournament in Kuantan, Malaysia will also have Canada and South Korea for company in Group B while New Zealand, Japan, Poland and Ireland are in Group A.
Tengku Ahmad, whose nickname is Zidane, scored only once in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in March and just twice in the recent six-match Test series against China at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Tengku Ahmad, however, feels that he should not be judged on his goals alone but on what he can offer to the team, especially with his vast experience.
“With the experience that I have, I can help the younger players get into their strides. In the last few matches, I did a lot of running from midfield and also tracked back to help the defence,” he said.
Malaysia’s best-ever achievement in the Champions Challenge I is a fourth placing (in 2001 and 2012) but Dharmaraj is looking at capitalising on home ground advantage to win the tournament and qualify for the 2016 Champions Trophy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Hopefully, Tengku Ahmad will hit a purple patch in Kuantan and help Malaysia join the hockey elite in Buenos Aires.