KUALA LUMPUR: There is good news for the national hockey team.
Penalty corner specialist Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim and midfielder Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor have been given the green light by their employers – Police – to feature in the 4th Asian Champions Trophy at the Wisma Belia Stadium in Kuantan from Oct 20-30.
Razie and Nabil have been undergoing inspector training at the Police Training Centre in Kuala Lumpur since May.
Razie not only deliver goals from penalty corners, but also mans the defence.
Nabil will be counted on to lead the midfield in the absence of the Sapura’s Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil, who is out for six months after fracturing his left leg during the second leg of their TNB Cup semi-final against Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) on Sept 24.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) vice-president and coaching committee chairman Datuk Ow Soon Kooi admitted that the presence of Razie and Nabil would help the team put up a strong challenge in the tournament.
Both players will only join in the training when the national team return from Perth on Oct 10.
Malaysia have sent three teams – men’s senior, development squad and women – to play in the Australian Hockey League (AHL), which started on Sept 29.
Soon Kooi said that only the best 18 from the 40-player training squad would be named for the 11-day Asian Champions Trophy, which will also feature India, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan and China.
The teams will play in a round-robin format, with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals.
MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal said that the national team have been set a semi-final target.
“It’s an important tournament as it provides ranking points ... I want the national team to improve on their world ranking,” said Subahan.
“Malaysia are ranked 14th in the world. I want them to be among the world’s top 10 by 2020. To achieve that, the national team need to play in as many matches as possible.”