KUALA LUMPUR: Forward Mohamed Rashid Baharom passed a last-minute medical test to keep his place in the final 18-man Malaysian squad for the QNET Asian Champions Trophy.
Rashid, 24, had injured his toe in the recent Australian Hockey League (AHL) earlier this month and was a doubtful starter for the six-nation tournament, which begins at the Kuantan Hockey Stadium on Thursday.
But the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) declared Rashid fit after a medical test on Tuesday.
National coach Stephen van Huizen said that Rashid played in a friendly against India on Monday night and came through well enough to keep his place.
The other two players – Baljit Singh and Mohamed Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin – were left out as they have yet to recover from their injuries.
There were no major surprises in the final squad. As expected, in-form Terengganu forward Faizal Saari made it to the team.
Stephen said Faizal deserved a second chance after showing improvements in his game as well as attitude.
Faizal was banned for six month last December when he refused to attend national training.
“He was playing quite all right in the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League). He did even better in the AHL where he scored five goals for the development squad. I believe he will be an advantage as he is also adept at scoring penalty corner goals,” said Stephen.
In goal, Malaysia will again rely on 36-year-old S. Kumar. The other custodian named is youngster Mohamed Hafizuddin Othman.
The captain is Mohamed Shukri Mutalib.
Stephen has set a semi-final target for the team.
“We will take one step at a time and then move forward from there (semi-finals). I would like to see better teamwork and improvements in the players’ performance,” said Stephen.
Besdies Malaysia, the other competing teams are title-holders Pakistan, India, Japan, South Korea and China.
Malaysia have never won the tournament, with third being their best result. They were third in the inaugural tournament in 2011 and then in 2012 and 2013. The tournament was not held in 2014 and 2015.
Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Mohamed Hafizuddin Othman.
Defenders: Mohamed Razie Rahim, Mohamed Shukri Mutalib, Mohamed Najmi Farizal Jazlan, Mohamed Najib Hassan, Faiz Helmi Jali.
Midfielders: Joel van Huizen, Nabil Fiqri Mohamed Nor, Fitri Saari, Meor Mohamed Azuan Hassan, Mohamed Azri Hassan.
Forwards: Mohamed Rashid Baharom, Mohamed Firhan Azhari, Mohamed Shahril Saabah, Faizal Saari, Nik Aiman Nik Rozemi, Mohamed Haziq Shamsul.