KUALA LUMPUR: Have faith in the team and don’t write us off.
National hockey skipper Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib made this plea during the press conference at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Malaysia will face Britain in two playoff matches in London, Nov 2 and 3, to win a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Speedy Tigers, ranked 11th in the world, have not beaten world No. 7 Britain in their backyard in the last decade and hockey enthusiasts have written off their chances.
Sukri, who has worn the captain’s armband since 2016, said that they are adamant to prove them wrong.
“My teammates and I are focused on just one thing... to achieve the impossible, ” said Sukri.
“We managed to hold England to a 3-3 draw in Barcelona (August) before going on to win the four-nation tournament.
“Britain are made of players from England, Wales and Scotland and they play a similar style.
“I’m confident we can spring a bigger surprise this time, ” added Sukri, who is the most experienced in the team with 349 caps.
Sukri added that as captain, this will be his toughest assignment as a place in the Olympics is at stake.
“But I’m ready for the challenge as I believe nothing is impossible if you put your heart and soul into the game.
“When we played in the World League Semi-finals in London in 2017, no one believed that we could qualify for the World Cup (in Bubaneswar, India, in 2018) but we did.
“We can repeat the feat... have faith in us, ” added Sukri.
Malaysia will depart for Amsterdam on Sunday to play two matches against club sides – HOC Gazellen-Combinatie and HC Bloemendaal – on Oct 26 and 27 respectively to get familiarised with the chilly conditions in London.
Coach Roelant Oltmans have named a 20-man squad for the two matches and will drop two players before the playoffs.
Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Mohd Zaimi Mat Deris
Defenders: Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib, Faiz Helmi Jali, Mohd Najib Abu Hassan, Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, Syed Mohd Syafiq Syed Cholan
Midfielders: Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor, Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil, Mohd Ashran Hamsani, Joel van Huizen, Mohd Fitri Saari, Muhd Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal, Meor Mohd Azuan Hasan, Nik Muhd Aiman Nik Rozemi
Forwards: Mohd Shahril Saabah, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil, Mohd Noor Firdaus Rosdi, Faizal Saari, Nor Syafiq Sumantri.
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