KUALA LUMPUR: Maybank midfielder Shaiful Azli is contemplating quitting international hockey. And he has decided to pull out of the squad for the Asia Cup tournament in Bukit Jalil here from Sept 21-28.
In a letter to the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF), the 26-year-old Shaiful cited family commitments as his main reason for opting out.
I have given it a lot of thought after the Champions Challenge ended in July. I have decided to take a break. It may be permanent and I will make a final decision later in the year, he said.
It is a difficult decision for me. I can still play international hockey for a few years more but at the moment, I am not up to it for the Asia Cup. I have submitted my letter of withdrawal to the MHF over the weekend.
Shaiful earned his first call-up to join the national team, who were preparing for the 1998 Commonwealth Games. But he failed to make the final squad.
He made his international debut in a five-nation tournament in Egypt in January 1999 and has been a regular feature in the national team since then, featuring in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2002 World Cup.
An injury suffered in a Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) match in June 2000 left him out in the cold for six months.
I almost quit the game then. Luckily, I managed to get back on my feet to play in the World Cup. But over the last few months, I have not been able to concentrate on training and my fitness level has dropped, said Shaiful.
Shaiful stays in Batu Pahat and being in camp in KL was a major problem for him.
I had to travel back to Batu Pahat every weekend to be with the family. Im trying to sort out this matter. One of the solutions is to move my family to KL. I cannot make the move now and that is why the Asia Cup is out for me, he said.
I would like to thank the team management and the MHF for the faith they had in me. I hope that I can continue with the national team. I will continue to play for Maybank.
I have talked about this to the officials in the national team. I hope they understand my plight.
Shaiful featured for the Tigers in the MHL and on Sunday helped the team to finish third. He scored the opening goal in the 3-1 win over Ernst and Young.