KUALA LUMPUR: Former champions Tenaga Nasional have been dealt with a triple blow less than a month before the start of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).
Tenaga, who are also the main sponsors of the MHL, have lost the services of three internationals – defenders Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin and Faiz Helmi Jali and midfielder Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil.
The trio, who featured in the recent World Hockey League Semi-Finals in Antwerp, Belgium, have been lured with a better offer by Sapura.
Tenaga are the only team in the MHL who have relied on local players since the inception of the league in 1987.
Their challenge this year will be led by two internationals – forward Mohd Shahril Saabah, who played in Antwerp, and the country’s number one goalkeeper S. Kumar, who had to return from Antwerp on June 18 following the death of his son.
Tenaga coach Nor Saiful Zaini was annoyed with the three internationals “for leaving the team just a month before the MHL begins”.
“Our defence will be affected without the experienced Izad and Faiz. We also don’t have any experienced players to marshall the midfield,” lamented Nor Saiful.
“We’re in a fix ... we only have 15 players in the squad… we need to register 20 players for the league.
“We have two more weeks to find the players before we submit our team’s name list.”
Nor Saiful said he would recall former international defenders Mohd Madzli Ikmar and Mohd Amin Rahim (who is the assistant coach of the Project 2016 squad) to the squad.
“We’ll rely on Amin to deliver the goals from penalty corner set pieces. We also have a few Project 2016 players,” said the coach.
The Projest 2016 players are Aminuddin Mohd Zain, Mohd Najib Abu Hassan and Syafid Syed.
“It will be a good exposure for the juniors as we’re building a team for the future,” said Nor Saiful, who led Tenaga to become joint overall champions with KLHC in 2013.
This year, only six teams will feature in the Premier League. The other teams are double champions Terengganu, Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC), Maybank, Sapura and Universitil Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).
Last year, Tenaga finished third in the league behind champions Terengganu and runners-up KLHC.
In the knockout stage, Tenaga defeated Maybank to finish third.
Terengganu will take on KLHC in the season-opening Charity Shield match on Aug 2.
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