PETALING JAYA: With only 14 players at his disposal, winning the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup proved an impossible task for Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) coach Arul Selvaraj.
UniKL are one of the fancied teams in the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) but were defeated 0-3 in the semi-finals by eventual champions Tenaga Nasional in the Cup competition.
The former national assistant coach said the team used the Cup campaign as preparation for the gruelling league season.
“The team gathered for less than a week and our foreign players are not here yet.
“Now we see where we stand and see what we need to work on. We’re ready to roll for the opening game on Jan 11,” he said.
UniKL face Terengganu in the first match of the MHL.
Even though they did not have the best of starts, Arul believes the team are shaping up well.
The inclusion of national stalwarts Muhammad Razie Abdul Rahim and Mohamad Sukri Abdul Mutalib has also brought balance to the team. UniKL have also signed three Dutchmen – Robbert Kemperman, Martijn Havenga and Valentin Verga.
Kemperman and Verga played for Holland in the recent World Cup in India where they finished runners-up to Belgium.
UniKL have retained keeper David Harte of Ireland and two Australians – midfielder Timothy Deavin and forward Kieren Govers.
“Razie and Syukri have played with Tim (Deavin) before and they know each other well. The foreign players are also aware of Razie’s abilities as a drag flicker.”
Arul admits that many teams are out to dethrone them since they are the defending champions but he has told his charges to takethat as a challenge.
“Go in with more confidence. But there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. This I must remind my players.”