Former national hockey player Mirnawan Nawawi (centre) having a chat with the national team during a meeting at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Sunday. - SHAARI CHEMAT/ The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Eleven members of the Malaysian 2002 World Cup hockey squad turned up to give morale support to the national team heading for the World Cup in The Hague, Holland, from May 31-June 15.
Led by skipper Mirnawan Nawawi, they met the current batch of 30 players at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Sunday. Besides Mirnawan, the others who turned up were S. Kuhan, Maninderjit Singh, S. Shankar, Fairuz Affendy, Mohamed Rodhanizam Radzi, K. Logan Raj, Mohamed Nasihin Nubli, Chairil Anwar, Nor Azlan Bakar and Roslan Jamaluddin.
Roslan, a goalkeeper, is the only player still in the current team.
Mirnawan called on the players to remain united and to back their coaching staff.
“We finished in eighth place in 2002, but I hope the present team will aim higher. It is important for the players to stay focused throughout the Finals. There are bound to be distractions in The Hague and the players must remember that they are there to do a job and play as a unit,” he said.
Datuk Nor Azmi Ahmad, the senior vice-president of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC), also said the players should aim higher than the top-10 target set by MHC.
“The top 10 is just a preliminary target. The players should aim higher and try to secure the best position they can.
“It all boils down to the commitment of the players. They should not be just satisfied with having qualified for the World Cup. They have to use this as a stepping stone for the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, the 30-member team will resume their training on Monday after a three-day motivation camp in Port Dickson.
National coach K. Dharmaraj is expected to name his final 18-man squad on May 17.
The team will also attend a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Putrajaya on Monday.