KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia hockey squad will have a difficult time at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, with the absence of four key players.
They are defenders Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin and Faiz Helmi Jali, midfielder Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil and forward Nik Muhamad Aiman Nik Rozemi.
Izad, who missed the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh two weeks ago, is still nursing a knee injury while pint-sized Faiz has opted out to complete his final semester studies at Universiti Malaya.
The hardworking Marhan is still recovering from a broken toe which he suffered in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup two weeks ago and Aiman is also down with a hamstring injury.
Without the two experienced defenders Izad and Faiz, coach Stephen van Huizen’s men will likely face another beating in the Commonwealth Games as India and England are in the same Group B with Malaysia.
Malaysia lost heavily to the two teams in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup early this month.
The other two teams in the group are Pakistan and Wales.
Defending champions Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and Scotland are drawn in Group A.
At the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, England thrashed Malaysia 8-1 in a group match.
Stephen has included three players – skipper Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib, Muhd Amirol Aideed Mohd Arshad and Mohd Ramadan Rosli – who missed the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup due to injuries.
Marhan, who scored two goals in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, said he is sad that he would not be able to help Malaysia in the Games.
“Although I can recover from the injury in another few weeks but I have decided not to play in the Games as I don’t want to aggravate it further,” said Marhan.
Malaysia will feature in the Asian Games in Jakarta from Aug 18 to Sept 2. The gold medallists will gain automatic berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The national team will also compete in the World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India from Nov 28 to Dec 16.
In Gold Coast, Malaysia will open their campaign against England on April 6 and Wales the following day.