KUALA LUMPUR: Forward Mohamed Anwar Ali and midfielder Abbas Nekmat, the experienced players from the Malaysian team who won the Under-18 FIH World Youth Festival tournament in Poznan last year, have been dropped from the team for the Under-19 invitational tournament, which begins on Sunday at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil here.
Two other players were also dropped from the final squad of 18. They were Mohamed Marwadi Samad and Nor Ikhram Sulaiman.
Malaysia will also be represented by their Under-16 team in the tournament. The Malaysian Hockey Federation's (MHF) deputy president, Tan Sri P. Alagendra, announced the final squads for the tournament yesterday.
“Anwar is also in the national senior training squad but we have to drop him because he has suffered a drop in form. We dropped Abbas because he skipped the first phase of training due to family matters,” said Alagendra.
The two experienced players have been replaced by newcomers S. Selvaraju and Kelvinder Singh.
The Under-19 squad included 10 players who featured in the tournament in Poznan. They are goalkeeper Khairul Nizam Ibrahim; defender Engku Abdul Malek; midfielders Mohd Shukri Abdul Mutalib, Mohd Suffian Mohd, Mohd Sallehin Abdul Ghani and Mohd Shahrun Nabil Abdullah; and forwards Mohd Fairus Hamsani, Mohd Izwan Hassan, Ahmad Tajuddin and Azli Misron.
The most experienced player in the squad is defender Megat Azrafiq Termizi, who was a member of the Malaysian team who won the bronze medal in the Busan Asian Games in October.
Junior World Cup player Azli Misron, who suffered a groin injury in the Champions Schools last month, passed the fitness test yesterday and was included in the Under-19 team. Engku Abdul Malek was named the skipper.
“The national Under-18 squad won the Under-18 tournament in Poznan last year. We hope they will put up a strong challenge here against teams like India and Pakistan,” said Alagendra.
“The tournament is also to gauge the strength of our team and the opponents as we are want to assemble a strong team for the Junior World Cup qualifiers in 2004.''
He added that they would not tolerate any indiscipline among the national juniors in the tournament.
“Any player who misbehaves on and off the pitch will be dropped and we will not consider him for the junior or senior team in future,'' said Alagendra.
Besides Junior World Cup champions India and Pakistan, the other foreign team in the fray are South Korea.
The Malaysian Under-19 squad will open their campaign against South Korea on Sunday.