Rising star Azrai beginning to gel well with national team


Malaysia's Muhammad Azrai Aizad (blue) try to fight the ball with Australia's Martin Dylan during the Sultan of Johor Cup 2018 at Taman Daya hockey stadium, Johor Baru. Pic by ABDUL RAHMAN EMBONG/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The national hockey team have in their midst a fox in the box who is beginning to make his presence felt.

Mohd Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal, who has been training with the national team for more than a month, certainly has what it takes to be ruthless in front of goal.

In the Malaysia Hockey League earlier this year, he plundered 11 goals for Tenaga Nasional and all of them from the shooting circle.

Only 21, Azrai impressed former national coach Roelant Oltmans to be selected in the national team and has now gained the attention of newly minted coach S. Arul Selvaraj.

Although Arul took over only a week ago, Azrai already sees the difference in the squad.

“I have learnt lots of things. How to make quick passes and to communicate better with your teammates,” said Azrai, who will turn out for Perak in the Razak Cup from Sept 18 to 26.

“The players feel comfortable under coach Arul because we can interact openly.”

Azrai added that he is beginning to gel with the veteran forwards especially Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Ahmad Jalil.

“Initially, there was some nervousness. But after playing in the league with them and interacting during national call-ups, I’m feeling much better.

“Now there is chemistry and I’m learning lots of things from them.”

Azrai knows that things could change as Arul had said he would select more players from the Razak Cup.

“For sure, I feel a little gentar (nervous) even though I am in the team. I have to do my best in the Razak Cup and prove to the coach that I deserve to play for Malaysia.”

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