Lack of foreign players won’t derail UniKL’s plan to repeat treble

UNIKL Muhammad Marhan Mohd Jalil (left) vying for the ball with TNB Muhammad Amirol Aideed during the Malaysia Hockey League Premier Divison match at the Tun Razak Hockey Stadium.-SHAARI CHEMAT/THESTAR

PETALING JAYA: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) will begin the new season without foreign players but team captain Marhan Jalil says the goal is still the same - to make it a perfect outing.

Last season, Marhan led the team to three titles - the Charity Shield, Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) and TNB Cup.

The 30-year-old defender said they would be out to achieve the treble again although the path would be tougher.

“It can be repeated again. I believe in the group of players we have now.

“As long as we play as a team, we can do wonders in the league, ” said Marhan, who is a sound tactician on the pitch.

“We still have core national players, and they would surely be good for us.”

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s restrictions on foreign travel, most clubs including Marhan’s have opted not to sign import players. With that, UniKL have lost three key foreigners.

Last season, the team had Dutch international Roel Bovendeert, former Australian international Kieran Govers and Irish goalkeeper David Harte, who proved to be vital cogs for the university side.

“We will surely feel their absence because they were with us for the whole season. They helped solidify the team with their experience. We will miss the professionals, ” said Marhan.

“We will take the positives from last season, and hope it would bring us momentum in the league. It will be challenging, but we are up for it.

“As one of the team’s leaders, we aim to retain all the trophies we won last season.”

Besides Marhan, the other national players in the squad are goalkeepers Adrian Andy Roberts and Shafie Sahrom; defender Razie Rahim; midfielders Ashran Hamsani and Pavandip Singh; and forward Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin.

The 2021 MHL will be held under a new format for both the men and women’s leagues whereby each team will play one match against all the others in the league. The team at the top of the table will emerge as champions, while the top four teams in the league will advance to the two-leg semi-finals of the 2021 TNB Cup.

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