PETALING JAYA: National hockey team coach A. Arulselvaraj will not include any Under-21 players for the test match series against Japan and Britain.
Arul said national junior coach Wallace Tan would be given the priority to select those young players as they prepare for the Junior Asia Cup in Bangladesh in July.
With that, Arul will stick to the 22 players he selected – all of whom were with him during the centralised training last year except for Universiti Kuala Lumpur’s Mohd Azri Hassan.
Many expected some of the youngsters who shone in the Malaysian Hockey League like Terengganu’s Shello Silverius, Akhimullah Annuar Esook and UniKL’s Pavandip Singh to be picked for the national squad.
But Arul has made it clear they are needed more for the national junior team for now.
“We want to support our junior programme, and those players will be with Wallace until July for the Junior Asia Cup. Even if the Azlan Shah Cup goes on in June, these juniors will still be with Wallace. We will rely on our 22 players for the tournament, ” said Arul.
“After the Razak Cup, we selected 38 players because I wanted to test the uncapped players and also see their motivation and desire. Plus, we had sparring matches since we couldn’t travel.
“Now that we can play international games, we’ve selected 22 players that have international caps.”
As for Azri, he last played for the national team in the Asian Games three years ago and has won 101 caps.
Arul’s team are set to spend the second week of Ramadan playing a series of hockey test matches against Japan and Britain from April 17-24 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Japan have been training to prepare for the Olympics, while Britain have played matches in the FIH Pro League.
Malaysia, on the other hand, have only relied on centralised training camps and they last played an international game in November 2019.