PETALING JAYA: National hockey defender Syed Syafiq Syed Mohd Cholan (pic) has an extremely tight schedule to stick to in 2022 but he is far from uptight.
The 26-year-old, who boasts 84 international caps, has the steely character to deal with the pressure-cooker situations that come with the big competitions.
It seems like a role that Syed Syafiq has been chosen to play.
He, after all, is one of eight players alongside Razie Rahim, Faiz Helmi Jali, Marhan Jalil, Meor Azuan Hassan, Najmi Farizal Jazlan, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Ahmad Jalil and Firhan Ashaari who were picked to be part of a leadership group identified by coach A. Arulselvaraj.
“We have to set a standard as the other players look up to us. I’m learning from the other experienced players in the leadership group and the coach expects us to lead and protect the other players,” said Syed Syafiq.
After helping Malaysia achieve their target of breaking into the world’s top 10 this year, he is highly motivated to help the team make an impact in the major competitions next year - the Asia Cup, Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.
The Perak-born Syed Syafiq also wants to win a trophy with his club Tenaga Nasional in the Malaysian Hockey League.
“Our first assignment is the Asian Cup in February, which also acts as a World Cup qualification tournament. The target is to finish in the top two to match our performance in 2017,” he said.
“I also want to win medals in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and Commonwealth Games. The most important is the Asian Games. We want to erase the pain of losing to Japan in the 2018 final.
“The aim is win the gold in Hangzhou and qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“With Tenaga, I want to win at least a Cup. It’s been a while since I won something with them. I’ve played with them for seven years but I’ve only won the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup.”
It may sound like lofty ambitions but Syed Syafiq is ready to take the lead. And he trusts the others will follow.