Former captain Shahrun makes World Cup squad

KUALA LUMPUR: Former captain and midfielder Mohd Shahrun Nabil is back in the national hockey team’s fold.

The 29-year-old Shahrun was annoyed with national chief coach K. Dharmaraj after being sidelined from two tournaments this year – the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in March and the Champions Challenge I in Kuantan in April.

But he was hugely relieved on Wednesday after being named in the 18-player squad for the World Cup, which will be held in The Hague from May 31. 

Dharmaraj has made five changes to the team who won the bronze medal in the Champions Challenge I tournament.

Apart from Shahrun, the other four who are back in the fold are defender and penalty corner specialist Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, 36-year-old goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin, midfielder Mohd Ramadan Rosli and forward Hafifihafiz Hanafi.

The five players dropped are goalkeeper Mohd Hafizuddin Othman, defenders Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin and Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin, midfielder Azri Hassan and forward Mohd Rashid Baharom.

Razie has recovered from the shoulder injury he suffered in the Hockey India League in February while Roslan did not feature in the first two tournaments this year due to an ankle injury. 

Dharmaraj said that he has picked the players based on current form and experience. 

“The players are in high spirits and have vowed to give their best in the World Cup,” said Dharmaraj.

“The return of Razie will surely shore up the defence. We are also banking on him to score from his penalty corner drag flicks.

“I’ve included Roslan, Shahrun and Hafifi as they are experienced and have shown their ability in training.

“Our rankings improved by one rung to No. 12 in the world after we won the bronze in the Champions Challenge I. We will be heading to the World Cup after a lapse of 12 years to further improve our world rankings,” added Dharmaraj, who took over as the national chief coach from South Africa’s Paul Revington in January.

Malaysia last featured in the World Cup when they hosted it in 2002.

In The Hague, Malaysia will open their Group A campaign against defending champions and world No. 1 Australia on May 31. Their other matches are against world No. 5 Belgium (June 2), world No. 4 England (June 5), world No. 8 India (June 7) and world No. 10 Spain (June 9).

Reigning Olympic champions Germany, Holland New Zealand, South Korea, Argentina and South Africa are in Group B. 

“The MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) have set us a top-10 target in the World Cup but we’ll strive to do better than that,” said Dharmaraj.

The World Cup squad

S. Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin.
Azlan Misron (captain), Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, Kevin Lim, Faiz Helmi Jali, Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib.
Mohd Fitri Saari, Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil, Mohd Shahrun Nabil, Mohd Ramadan Rosli, Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor.
Ismail Abu, Tengku Ahmad Tajudin, Faizal Saari, Mohd Firhan Ashaari, Hafifihafiz Hanafi, Mohd Shahril Saabah.
George Koshy
Nor Azlan Bakar
 Chief coach:
K. Dharmaraj
K. Gobinathan
Razana Abdul Raffar
Yeo In-seung

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