Feels like a group of death but Negri fancy life in last eight

PETALING JAYA: Negri Sembilan have been drawn in a tough group but they still fancy their chances of making the quarter-finals in the Razak Cup hockey tournament.

Negri have drawn Pahang, Kuala Lumpur and Kedah in Group D and team manager S. Chandran believes his team can meet their top-eight target.

Chandran said Negri have been training for three weeks and played three friendly matches to prepare for the 58th edition of the tournament which will be held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

In the friendlies, Negri beat Armed Forces 1-0 and Police 4-3 but lost to one of the title favourites, Terengganu 2-5.

“We aim to be one of the best eight teams in the tournament. It’s going to be a highly competitive tournament,” said Chandran.

“When you enter the quarter-finals, you will be facing sides powered by national players. Terengganu and Perak have seven to eight national players, so it will be a really tough tournament.

“In our group, we have to win the first two matches to confirm a spot in the quarters. Against KL and Pahang, we have an even chance. We are unsure of Kedah’s quality, but we believe in our boys.

“The players are shaping up well and we have experienced players who have played for us for quite a while,” said Chandran.

Negri will be captained by national midfielder Marhan Abd Jalil and coached by former international Mohd Madzli Ikmar.

The team also have former national goalkeeper Mohd Khairul Nizam, two-time junior World Cup player Kevin Karthik, and former national junior goalkeeper Che Shahrul Azmi.

Chandran is confident that Madzli, who was Nor Saiful Zaini’s assistant for the Tenaga Nasional team in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), has what it takes to steer the team forward.

The 40-year-old Madzli, a defender in the 2000 Sydney Olympics team, is known for his ability to analyse matches well. He also has at his disposal a good mix of national junior and senior players.

“We all know Madzli’s abilities. Being a former player himself, I am sure he will get along with the players,” said Chandran.

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