KUALA LUMPUR: The Kalikavandan brothers, Keevan and Logan Raj, have withdrawn from the national hockey squad, who will go on a stint in Europe next month.
Coach Paul Lissek said that Keevan, who played in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Ipoh last month, pulled out because of studies.
“Keevan is studying in a private college and he has been missing many classes. He told me that he cannot afford to miss classes anymore because he wants to complete his studies by July,” said Lissek.
He added that the break to concentrate on studies meant that Keevan would also miss the Champions Challenge in South Africa from July 17-29.
The younger Logan was recalled for national training last week after more than a year's absence and opted out after only two days with the team.
“Logan was complaining of body aches. He could not cope with the intense training and decided to go home. He needs to keep himself fit before making a return to the national squad,” said Lissek.
Last year, Logan took a one-semester break from his electrical engineering course at the Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten) to concentrate on training and joined his brother in the final squad for the World Cup.
Malaysia finished eighth in the World Cup Finals played at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil and after the tournament ended in March, Logan went back to his studies.
Lissek added that the withdrawal of the brothers resulted in him calling up three junior players to join the training squad.
The trio are Ismail Abu, Mohd Shahrun Nabil and Mohd Sallehin Abdul Ghani.
“The juniors are combining well with the seniors and they are being put through a series of strenuous physical workouts to improve on their fitness,” he said.
“Some of the players have showed improvement in fitness and I hope they will be 100% fit for the European tour.”
Poor fitness stood out like a sore thumb in the recent five-team Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Ipoh where Malaysia finished last.
The team will leave for Europe on May 2 and they are scheduled to play 10 matches over a period of 15 days.
They will play two matches against Belgium (May 5 and 7) in Brussels and another two against England (May 9 and 10) in Birmingham.
The team will also have a training camp in Limburg, Germany, from May 11-15 and during the stint they will play three matches against top German clubs.
The team will also play in a quadrangular tournament in Worms, Germany, from May 16-19 against the German A and B teams and Egypt.