Coach Arul to leave out juniors due to quarantine and visa issues

Back to work: A. Arulselvaraj (left) instructing his charges during a training session. — MHC

PETALING JAYA: Head coach A. Arulselvaraj will stick to the usual suspects for the Asian Champions Trophy despite the impressive performances of several junior players recently.

Arul was impressed with Pavandip Singh, Arif Syafie Ishak and Syarmann Mat Tee in the Junior Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, where the team finished eighth.

He had to drop them from his consideration for the Asian meet in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from Dec 14-22 due to quarantine and visa issues.

“They players had to be under quarantine after the India trip and we have limited time to get the clearance for visa,” said Arul.

“Pavandip, Arif and Syarmann caught my attention but for now, we will not consider any players from the Under-21 team.

“The others who played in the United Kingdom Tour will be in contention.”

Arul will select 20 players for the trip to Bangladesh and those who are set to spearhead the squad are Razie Rahim, Syed Syafiq Syed Mohd Cholan, Mohd Marhan Jalil and Faizal Saari.

Arul wants the national team to maintain their top 10 world ranking by doing well in the Asian Champions Trophy and overtake world No. 9 Spain and New Zealand (8th).

“This tournament offers ranking points and I’ve reminded the boys to go in with a winning mindset to remain in the top 10 and overtake these teams,” said Arul.

“Our preparation for the tournament has been good. The players have been in good spirit and have shown good focus in training.”

The teams participating in the tournament are India, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea and Bangladesh.

Malaysia’s first game will be against Bangladesh at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium on Dec 14.

Malaysia have finished third in all previous editions – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2018.

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