Mohamed Shahrun Nabil (left) in a file photo. Although left out of the Champions Challenge I and Sultan Azlan Shah Cup squads, he was picked for the World Cup after the selection trials.
THE HAGUE: Mohamed Shahrun Nabil is ready to provide the midfield thrust for Malaysia in the World Cup after missing out on the last two assignments.
Shahrun was at the centre of a selection controversy when he wasn’t picked for the Champions Challenge I tournament last month.
He was earlier left out of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in March as well.
He wasn’t the only who was dismayed at being left out, many of the other senior players also felt that they were being sidelined for the juniors although it was they (the seniors) who helped Malaysia qualify for the World Cup.
Their unhappiness resulted in the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) holding a three-day trial to select the team to the World Cup, which begins in The Hague, Holland, on Saturday.
Shahrun aced the trial and was selected.
“There is no issue (regarding the selection) and the matter is closed,” he said on Thursday.
“All the players are ready for action ... I will work extra hard to get the engine room moving.
“The matches against Australia and Belgium are two of the toughest openings any team can have. They are both title contenders and we will have a difficult time.”
But Shahrun – ever the optimist – said they should aim for two points from those two matches.
“Yes, we may not have beaten Australia in recent years ... but why should we feel inferior?” he asked.
“The World Cup is the biggest stage for all of us and we have nothing to lose. We need to go all out from the start and aim to win each match.
“I know that this is a tall order ... but, unless we give it our best, the opposition will have the upperhand.”
Shahrun will have Fitri Saari, Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor, Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil and Mohd Ramadan Rosli to help him ignite the midfield engine.
“I’ve played with all of them before and I’m comfortable with them. But what I believe is important is that we must play as a unit and complement each other. This has to be a team effort ... that’s the only way we can minimise the mistakes,” Shahrun said.
“In midfield, we have to keep it tight and make sure they don’t get too much space to attack.”
The 27-year-old is confident that the team can spring a surprise or two.
“Yes, we can do it and I hope the players will respond likewise,” he said.
Shahrun, like the 16 other players in the team, is making his World Cup debut. Goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin is the only member of the team with World Cup experience.