PETALING JAYA: The just concluded Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) have unearthed several new faces who deserve a spot in the national team.
Two MHL coaches – I. Vickneswaran of Terengganu and Arul Selvaraj of Universiti Kuala Lumpur’s (UniKL) – said the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) should call them up for next month’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
Vickneswaran and Arul have earmarked Tenaga Nasional players Muhd Akhimullah Anuar Esook, Muhammad Arif Syafie Ishak, Muhammad Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal and Muhd Noor Firdaus Rosdi as players with potential.
Eighteen-year-old striker Akhimullah, who was the top scorer in the Youth Olympics Games in Buenos Aires with 22 goals, showed his prowess in the MHL with 10 goals.
A trio of 19-year-olds, defender Arif Syafie netted six penalty corners while forwards Azrai and Noor Firdaus scored five goals apiece.
Arul was impressed with the youngsters’ performance playing with the big boys.
“Tenaga have several outstanding players including the young. These boys despite their age certainly have the potential to play for the country,” said Arul.
“They just need to have a good thought process and lifestyle to take it one level higher.
“If these two don’t go hand-in-hand, they will not succeed in the international stage.
“Some players in the past have impressed in the league but failed when it comes to high-level matches.”
Arul also pointed out that one of his players – Ashran Hamsani should be a regular fixture in the national team.
The 23-year-old scored three goals and was vital in getting penalty corners for UniKL.
The other player in UniKL who shows a lot of promise is reserve goalkeeper Adrian Albert.
The 22-year-old Sabahan played well in the TNB Cup final against Terengganu in the absence of the vastly experienced Ireland captain and goalkeeper David Harte.
Vickneswaran said that his custodian Mohd Hazrul Faiz Ahmad Sobri is also ready for national call-up.
The 25-year-old showed steady improvement in the league and was named man-of-the-match in the final.
“Hazrul has got it, he has always been a reserve goalkeeper but he stepped up this season,” said Vickneswaran.
“There are also Firdaus Omar and B. Namasivayam, who fought until the end and were willing to put themselves on the line for the team.”