KUALA LUMPUR: S. Bubalan started the MHF Under-19 Invitational tournament dreaming of breaking into the national senior hockey squad.
Now, the 18-year-old is down in the dumps. The player, who wants to be a top defender in the national team, injured his back in the match against Pakistan on Wednesday and is likely to miss the final againt India tomorrow.
The Perak lad could hardly stretch after the match against Pakistan and he is now worried about his long-term future in the national team.
I am really keen to represent Malaysia in major tournaments but my back injury at this young age could pose a problem for me in the future.
The injury is quite bad. Every time I try to stretch to get the ball from the opponents, I feel pain in my back, said Bubalan after some stretching exercises at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Bubalan, an enforcement officer with the Ipoh City Council, was also a member of the Malaysian Under-18 squad that won the FIH Under-18 tournament in Poznan last August.
He has been with the Malaysian Under-19 squad since then and will also be part of the national Under-21 squad.
The injury is not his only problem. He is not too satisfied with his performance in the invitational tournament either.
I still feel nervous when under pressure and need to clear the ball quickly from defence when under attack, said Bubalan.
Bubalans 17-year-old brother Selvaraju is also in the team. Selvaraju plays as a forward.
This is the first time we are playing together for the Malaysian junior team. It was a good feeling playing together, said Bubalan.