KUALA LUMPUR: There is still time for the fringe players to stake a claim in the national team for the Melbourne Festival of Hockey, which will be held from Nov 23-27.
National coach Stephen van Huizen said that there would be changes to the team who won the bronze medal at the recently-completed Asian Champions Trophy in Kuantan.
The final selection for the four-nation Melbourne tournament has been put off to next week. The other teams are hosts Australia, India and New Zealand.
“There will be changes because some players are not available ... and also due to injuries. This is still part of our preparation for next year’s World Hockey League,” he said.
Stephen pointed out that the two injured players – Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin and Baljit Singh, who missed the Asian Champions Trophy – would play if they’ve fully recovered.
“Baljit is already in training and that augurs well for him. Izad is getting better. So, they will be considered for selection.”
Police trainees Mohd Razie Rahim and Nabil Fiqri Mohd Nor are likely to miss the Melbourne tournament although they are expected to appeal for their release.
Fitri Saari and Faiz Helmi Jali are also set to skip the tournament as they’ll be sitting for their college examinations.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty in the team. We will wait to hear from the Police regarding Razie and Nabil and also check if Fitri and Faiz can sit for their examinations on another day,” said Stephen.
“We hope to sort all these out as soon as possible as the team will leave for Melbourne on Nov 19.”
Malaysia will open their campaign against the Kiwis on Nov 23, followed by India (Nov 24) and Australia (Nov 26). The classification matches will be held on Nov 27.
This will be the team’s last assignment for this year. Next year, they have the World Hockey League Round Two in March, followed by the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and the World Hockey League semi-finals in June.