Coach worried over trio's condition

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia are keeping their fingers crossed that three of their key players will be fully fit for the MHF Under-19 invitational hockey tournament final against India on Sunday. 

The trio who are nursing minor injuries are goalkeeper Khairul Nizam, Mohamed Sallehin and S. Bubalan. 

Coach Stephen van Huizen said yesterday that the greater concern was on Khairul, who has a stiff neck and was rested in yesterday's match against the national Project (Under-16) squad. 

MOVE OVER: Malaysia's Mohd Fakhrul Razi Baharudin (right) fighting for the ball with Malaysia Project Squad's Mohamed Fauzi Abdul Rahim Thursday. The project squad lost 0-3. --STARpic by S.S. KANESAN.

“He was in brilliant form in the previous three matches and not having his services for the final will be a setback to the team,” said Stephen. 

Flankback Sallehin is down with a thigh strain while fellow defender Bubalan has a back problem. 

Stephen added that a major reshuffle was needed if the trio were not available for the final. 

“If they play, there is the risk of aggravating their injuries. That will be a concern to us as well. They are playing well and have settled down with the team. I will not take the risk if the doctors advise against it,” he said. 

Yesterday, Stephen gave Azli Misron another chance to play a full game. The Perak player suffered a groin injury in the recent Champions Schools tournament and just managed to make the team for the tournament. 

Azli played half a match against India but did not perform to his true form. 

“We will wait and see how he feels on Sunday. It looks like we will have to do some reshuffling but nothing is certain at the moment,” said Stephen. 

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