PETALING JAYA: The national hockey team will finally see action after almost two years as they head to the United Kingdom for a month-long tour from Sept 19.
The 23-player squad will play 10 matches, four matches against club sides and seven matches against Ireland, Wales and France.
The national team management committee chairman Datuk Ahmad Najmi Abdul Razak said the matches will enable coach A. Arulselvaraj to gauge the players’ progress as well as to prepare them for the 2022 Asia Cup and 2023 World Cup qualifiers.
“Three players from the special men squad – defender Mohd Shafiq Hassan, strikers Shello Silverius and Mohd Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal – will join the seniors until the new selection process by Arul is completed,” said Ahmad Najmi.
Arul said the UK tour will also give him a chance, among other things, to try out some new formations.
“We couldn’t get quality matches here so we are heading to the UK. The matches against the national sides could help us improve on our world ranking,” said Arul.
“Shello, Azrai and Shafiq have been training well with the team.
“Shello will likely continue as a striker while Azrai and Shafiq will be pushed to midfield.
“I’m also planning to rope in more juniors in the near future.”
According to the preliminary schedule, the Speedy Tigers will take on Old Georgians on Sept 26; Surbiton (Sept 28); Hampstead & Westminster (Sept 29 ) and Beeston (Oct 1).
They take on Ireland (Oct 5 and 6); Wales (Oct 9 and 12); and France (Oct 15 and 18).