German-born national defender Kevin Lim is back in the hockey team for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow starting on Wednesday. - Filepic
GLASGOW: National hockey coach K. Dharmaraj is delighted to have sweeper Kelvin Lim back to plug the team’s porous backline.
Dharmaraj was left to rue the German-born defender’s eleventh-hour pullout from the World Cup in The Hague, Holland, last month.
The defence sorely missed the presence of Kelvin, who withdrew after sustaining a hamstring injury during training.
In his absence, the defence simply crumbled – letting in 26 goals – as the team lost all six matches. Malaysia, who were featuring in the World Cup after a 12-year hiatus, finished last among the 12 teams.
No wonder Dharmaraj is all smiles as he welcomes back Kelvin for the Commonwealth Games challenge.
The 27-year-old Kelvin, who returned to Berlin last month to recover from the injury, is also glad to be back in the side after missing the World Cup.
“The defence crumbled in my absence in The Hague,” Kelvin said after a training session at the Glasgow Green Stadium yesterday.
“But I’m back now … I will try my best to hold the defence together.
“I will do all I can to strengthen the backline,” added Kelvin, who made his international debut for Malaysia in the Champions Challenge I tournament in Kuantan in April.
The other defenders named for the Games are penalty corner specialist Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, Faiz Helmi Jali, Baljit Singh Charun and Ahmad Kazamirul Nasaruddin.
Razie and Faiz featured in the World Cup while Baljit will be playing in his first tournament this year.
Kazamirul featured in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in March and the Champions Challenge I.
In Glasgow, Malaysia will open their Group B campaign against Canada on Saturday.
Their other matches are against England (Sunday), Trinidad and Tobago (July 29) and New Zealand (July 31).
Defending champions Australia are in Group A with India, Wales, South Africa and Scotland.
Although the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) have not set any target for the team, Kelvin believes that Malaysia “can finish in the top six” among the 10 teams.
“We definitely want to redeem our pride after our disastrous outing in the World Cup,” said Kelvin.
Malaysia, who finished eighth in the New Delhi Games four years ago, won a silver in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games and a bronze in the 2006 Melbourne Games.