KUALA LUMPUR: Defender Mohd Najib Abu Hassan (pic) had been an eager beaver on the national hockey team’s European tour last year.
The team played nine matches against Germany, Belgium, Holland, England and Spain but Najib came home disappointed and crestfallen.
He did not get to play in a single match.
But now that Najib is back in the training squad, he wants to make up for that disappointment by not only winning a place in the team but also featuring in his third Asian Champions Trophy in Dhaka, Bangladesh in November.
A total of 34 players are now in the selection squad training at the National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil. Only 18 will make the final cut. The 25-year-old Najib wants to make sure he is among the 18.
Last year, he was among 20 players named for the tour ahead of the Olympic qualifying matches against Britain.
“It turned out to be a nightmare as I was like a passenger in the team. I don’t want to go through the bitter experience again, ” said Najib, who last played for Malaysia in the Asian Champions Trophy in Oman in 2018. He made his debut in the same tournament in 2016 in in Kuantan.A knee injury during the tournament forced him out of action for six months. He was called up for national training last year in April but has since failed to feature for Malaysia in a tournament.
Najib, said he would face a tough challenge to get into the team this time.
“There are other experienced defenders in the training squad and I have to work hard to win a place in the team.
“There is only one tournament this year and all 10 defenders will be fighting for places, ” said the Tenaga Nasional employee, who also played in the Junior World Cup in Lucknow, India in 2016.
The experienced defenders in the national team are Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, Faiz Helmi Jali, Syed Mohd Cholan Syed Syafiq and Mohd Najmi Farizal Jazlan. The other five are Mohd Firdaus Omar, Luqman Bul Hakim Ahmad Shukran, Mohd Nur Asyraf Ishak, Mohd Aminuddin Mohd Zain and Mohd Arif Syafie Ishak.
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