PETALING JAYA: National hockey striker Firhan Ashaari (pic) has warned his teammates to expect the unexpected during Malaysia’s UK playing tour.
The men’s team will travel to London to play several matches from Sept 19 to Oct 22 to prepare for next year’s Asia Cup, which is a qualifying tournament for the 2023 World Cup.
Firhan’s reminder is timely given that world No. 11 Malaysia are up against all lower ranked teams.
According to the schedule given by the Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC), Malaysia take on club sides Old Georgians (Sept 26), Surbiton (Sept 28), Hampstead & Westminster (Sept 29) and Beeston HC (Oct 1) before playing against Ireland (Oct 5 and 6), Wales (Oct 9 and 12) and France (Oct 15 and 18).
France are ranked 13th while Ireland and Wales are 14th and 17th in the world rankings.
Firhan wants the 23 players in the touring squad to be on their toes although they will be facing lower ranked national teams.
“Ranking wise, they are not far from us and we cannot underestimate them as we have played against them regularly and they are capable of springing a surprise or two,” said the 28-year-old Firhan.
“I believe the gap in quality is not too far among the teams in the fray so we can expect several close encounters.
“We have not played too many international matches so the tour will get us back in shape and prepare us for the upcoming international assignments.
“I am also looking forward to the matches as I have not been playing competitive games for quite a while. It would help me get back my feel and prove my worth as a striker for the squad.”
Giving Firhan competition for the role up front during the tour are Shello Silverious and Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal.
“We all have the capabilities and it is our duty to combine and help each other out to perform to the best of our ability for the national team.”