PETALING JAYA: With more than half being first-timers, Malaysia’s women hockey team are not setting a lofty target in the Asian Cup in Oman.
National coach Nasihin Nubli has named 20 players, with 12 new faces for the team’s first assignment this year from Jan 21-28.
Malaysia are placed in Group A with India, Japan and Singapore, while Group B have China, Korea, Thailand and Indonesia.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals and also qualify for the World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Spain and Holland from July 1-17.
Nasihin, who is realistic with the level of players and coaching team, wants to use the tournament as an exposure as it will feature the best teams in Asia.
“This team are mainly lined up with players aged 23 and under, and participating in the highest senior-level tournament in Asia for the first time is considered a proud achievement,” said Nasihin.
“They will face teams who had competed in the Olympics and World Cup and are aware of their own level. We have taken a bold move to participate and hope it will be a good exposure for them. We also hope it will help us form a strong team that have the quality to compete at the international level in the future.”
Malaysia will be banking on midfield pillar Nuraini Abdul Rashid and striker Hanis Nadiah Onn to lead the debutants.
They face India on Jan 22, followed by matches against Singapore and Japan on Jan 23 and 24 respectively.
Goalkeeper: Siti Rozailah Jilon, Siti Zalia Nasir.
Defender: Juliani Mohamad Din, Raja Norsharina Raja Shabuddin, Nurul Faezah Shafiqah Khalim, Iren Hussin, Dayang Nuramirah Abang Mahadini, Nurul Fatin Fatiah Azman.
Midfielder: Nuraini Abdul Rashid, Fatin Shafika Mohd Shukri, Nur Syuhada Suhaimi, Noor Asfarina Isahyifiqa Isahhidun, Nur Insyirah Effarizal.
Strikers: Nur Amirah Syakirah Zulkifli, Nurmaizatul Hanim Syafi Syiek Fuad, Siti Zulaikha Husain, Siti Nor Arfah Mohd Nor, Nur Atira Mohd Ismail, Nur Afiqah Syahzani Azhar, Hanis Nadiah Onn.