SUBANG: The Royal Customs of Malaysia, who make their debut in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) today, will see how they perform this season before deciding whether to stay on in the league.
Customs director-general Datuk Paduka Abdul Halil Abdul Mutalib, the patron of their Sports Club, said their debut season would be to test the waters.
“When I was asked if we should have a team in the MHL, my main question was whether we have the players capable of the carrying the challenge.
“I do not want us to put a team for the sake of participation.
“I want a team that can challenge the best,” he said on Friday after meeting with the players and unveiling their jersey colours for the MHL campaign.
“I do not expect results this year although I feel that the team have to set a target to achieve. Let the players gain experience in the first year and but not in the second year. After that I want to see results,'' he said.
The Customs team will take on Royal Malay Regiment at the Pandamaran Hockey Stadium today and then play Penang's Srii Aroma the following day also in Klang.
The team have hired former international and Tenaga player S. Sivabalan to coach them and they also have roped in several experienced Selangor players.
The man who has initiated the move to get a team in the MHL is Samson Sevanjanam, who will also act as assistant manager.
Sivabalan, who was at the ceremony at the Sunway Lagoon Hotel, said their aim for the first year was to get into the top eight and gain some respectable scores in each match.
“We had very little time to train since the decision was taken to play in the MHL. But there are enough experienced players to bank on. The only problem is the lack of fitness. We are working hard on it.”
Among the players in the team who have had a stint with the national team are Ranjit Singh, St John Davies, Azlin Fairuz, Lam Mun Fatt and M. Jayamaran.
All of them have also played in the MHL before for various teams.
Two former RMR players have also signed up for the team this year. They are Nasir Mydin and Abu Bakar Abdullah.
Youngster Ikmal Abdul Jabar, a current trainee with the national team, is also in the line-up.
With a line-up like that, Halil wants a good show. “I do not want to see the team being whipped by a heavy score line like 10 or 12 goals.
“I do not mind if they lose but they must fight all the way. A one-goal or two-goal margin defeat is acceptable but not a lop-sided match.
“We are not in the MHL to lose.”