KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) have snapped up six foreign players to challenge the big guns in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division, which begins on Jan 12.
The six signings comprise three Australians – Glenn Turner, Kieran Gowrers and Tim Deavin; Irish goalkeeper David Harte; and two former Dutch internationals, Sander van Wink and Jeroen Hertzberger.
Turner was a member of the Australian squad that won the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
Harte, 29, is a member of the Ireland team who finished third at the European Championships in London in 2015.
The 31-year-old Hertzberger was part of the Dutch team that were runners-up at the 2014 World Cup.
The presence of these six foreigners should beef up UniKL’s squad as they try to hold their own against league champions KL Hockey Club (KLHC) and overall champions Terengganu.
UniKL, KLHC and Terengganu are among six teams who have confirmed their entries for the Premier Division.
The other three are Tenaga Nasional, Maybank and TNB-Thunderbolt.
UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj said they were fortunate to sign six foreign players and much of the credit goes to the management.
“We’re looking forward to a good season and preparations have started with the local players. The foreign signings will only join us after Christmas,” said the former international.
UniKL have also signed national player Joel van Huizen, who played for KLHC last season.
Joel will be one of three national players in UniKL, alongside Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil and Najmi Farizal.
The Premier Division teams will play each other on a home-and-away basis and the final will be on Feb 10.
The Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup, a knockout tournament involving the Premier Division and Division One teams, will be played from Jan 3-8.
Thirteen teams will feature in Division One while only four teams will contest the National Women’s League.
The Division One teams are RMAF Rajawali, Kedah Hockey Team, Sukma Penang, Politeknik-KPT, Remaja Pahang, OLAK, Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Ipoh City Council, Terengganu-MSN, MBPJ Tiger, Selangor Hockey Team and Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI).
The teams playing in the women’s league are Terengganu, PKS-Uniten-KPT and debutants KL Wipers and Sukma Penang.
This year’s contestants, Blue Warriors, SSTMI, Kulim and Johor won’t be taking part next year.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competitions manager Brian Fernandaz said that due to the poor response for the women’s league, they have invited foreign clubs from Hong Kong, Singapore and Sri Lanka.