KUALA LUMPUR: Defending overall champions Telekom Pahang will hope to get lucky with just 13 outfield players when they kick off the Division One action in the MHF-Milo-NSC-Admiral Junior Hockey League today against Srii Aroma-PISC at the Kuantan Hockey Stadium.
The Telekom side have only 16 registered players. Of that number, three are goalkeepers.
And Telekom, who are depleted thanks to their own undoing they registered four players who had been barred form the league may have to use their goalkeepers as outfield players. Each team can register a maximum of 20 players but Telekom had listed four players Mohamed Shahrun Nabil, Mohamed Sallehin, MOhamed Suffian and Ismail Abu who had been called up for national training.
National trainees are not eligible to play in the league.
The Telekom team, however, are not perturbed about using only 16 players for the league.
Coach Izwan Suhardy said yesterday they would have no problems in fielding goalkeepers in forward positions.
That is because two of the goalkeepers have played as forwards and midfielders before. First choice goalkeeper Khairul Nizam has played as a midfielder while second choice keeper Ahmad Kamil can play in the forward line.
But my main worry is on injuries and suspension during the course of the preliminary round. With just 16 players, there is a risk. But there is nothing we can do,'' he said.
Despite the problems faced by the teams, Izwan is optimistic they can go far in the league.
We have the material and experience. Our aim is to retain the overall title. We will also try and win the Division One title but this will take some doing,'' he added.
In the absence of the four national stars, the key players in their campaign will be goalkeeper Khairul, who also played for the Malaysian Under-19 team, Mohamed Redza Madun, Izwan Hassan, Zarit Zainal and Mohamed Al-Fadhir Kassim.
Redza played for KL in the recent Under-21 meet and was a key player in the team.
But Izwan said the key to their success would depend on how the team click as a unit.
''Individually, we have the talent but they have to combine well to be effective. I will not underestimate any of our opponents. At the same time, we have to make sure we do not lose concentration during the matches,'' he added.