Baljit Singh (centre) in a file photo. He sustained an ankle injury just days ahead of the selection trials for the World Cup Finals squad.
KUALA LUMPUR: The national hockey players seem to be plagued with injury woes.
Just as senior players Mohamed Razie Rahim and Roslan Jamaluddin returned from injury to full training, defender Baljit Singh injured his ankle in training on Friday.
With just two days left before the final 18-man squad is named for the World Cup Finals, the Baljit will be fighting against time to recover and prove his worth.
Initially the national team was to be named on Saturday but the players had requested for a three-game selection trial earlier in the week.
The games are to be played among the 30 players in the training squad and all are to be given ample playing time on the field.
National coach K. Dharmaraj said that the team management agreed to it and the first match was held on Thursday, which the coach missed due to a contract wrangle.
The next two matches are to be held on Monday and Tuesday morning. The team will be named at 3pm on Tuesday.
“The players felt that all (in the training squad) should be given equal consideration and made the request for the selection trials. It was felt that the Champions Challenge I should not be the main criteria for selection as some did not feature in the matches,” said Dharmaraj.
Razie and Roslan also did not feature in Kuantan and if found to be fit, they will be included in the World Cup squad. Among the other players who will be under scrutiny are former skipper Mohamed Shahrun Nabil and forward Hafifihafiz Hanafi. Baljit was also in the mix for the final selection and Dharamaraj said he is still part of the selection process.
“He injured his ankle in training but I am told it is not that serious. He has a couple of days to recover before we hold the final two trials.
“All players have a fair chance and we will select based on merit. I know there have been negative comments about the selection we made for the Champions Challenge I ... that there were too many juniors.
“To be honest, I am not the sole selector, and we based it on consensus. We selected players whom we felt could get the job done. Every player must prove himself to merit his place in the team,” he added.
The team will leave for The Hague, Holland, on May 23.
Malaysia play their first World Cup Finals Group A match against Australia on May 31. The other teams in the group are Belgium, India, Spain and England.
The teams in Group B are Germany, Holland, South Korea, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa.