For hockey’s ‘Zidane’, Tengku Ahmad, it’s always team before self

Malaysia's Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (right) fight for the ball with Japan Masaki Ohashi (left) in Hockey Field Gelora Bung Karno during Asian Games 2018 at Jakarta, Indonesia. FAIHAN GHANI/The Star.

PETALING JAYA: Individually, national player Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil is one of the most technically gifted strikers in Malaysian hockey.

His close control and skills with the ball are a delight to watch, and it is no surprise that his teammates call him “Zidane”, the French football legend who mesmerised the world with his technique and breathtaking goals.

A moment of brilliance from Ahmad is enough to light up any match, but the 34-year-old is not into individual glory. Instead, he believes firmly in teamwork.

Now, with the Razak Cup tournament around the corner, he has reminded his state team, Perlis, to believe in teamwork and camaraderie to find success.

“There is no I in a team. I know it sounds cliched, but I always emphasise the fact that we have to be a team first, then only think about individual brilliance,” said the Malaysian international, who is part of the Asian Champions Trophy training squad.

“Perlis have a lot of talent, but it is time we gather all of them as a team.

“As a veteran, that is what I want to see. Individuals can win you matches, but in a battle, you need to be together.

“When I was a youngster in 2005, my seniors taught me the value of teamwork, and that lesson has stuck with me.”

The Razak Cup will be held from Sept 18-26 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil. A total of 15 teams have registered for the men’s category, with Sabah making a return after a four-year lapse although Sarawak have opted to stay out. All teams will play in one division, instead of the usual two divisions.

Ahmad said it would be great for him to play against all the 15 sides, instead of the two-division format.

“The last time I played in the Razak Cup was two years ago when we won the Division Two title. Now that there is only one pool, I see it as an exciting prospect.

“We aim to go as high as possible in the tournament. We want to learn and be better. It’s good exposure for the young Perlis boys because they will face off against the national players, in the other states.”

Ahmad admitted that he has a slight meniscus tear after contact training started on July 15, but added that he needs some time and light training to get back to his usual self.

“Coach (Roelant Oltmans) has told me to take my time and not run. I just have to go through the recovery process diligently. He does not want the injury to flare up again.”

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