Two juniors are in for a chance to get into senior squad

KUALA LUMPUR: Two of the seven national junior hockey players who fail to make the final squad of 18 for the Junior Asia Cup may get a call-up to join the senior side for two four-nation tournaments in Australia this month. 

The seniors have resumed training and there are 16 players in the squad. Two of the players from the squad who failed to qualify for the Olympics in a tournament in Madrid last month have opted out. 

Defender K. Gobinathan has quit international hockey while it is not known whether forward Tajol Rosli has chosen to take a break or retire as well. 

The seniors will leave for Australia on April 13. The first tournament will be played in Canberra from April 14-18 and the second in Sydney from April 21-25. Their opponents in the tournaments are Australia, India and South Africa. 

The juniors will feature in the Junior Asia Cup in Karachi from April 20-29. The tournament is also a qualifier for the Junior World Cup next year. 

National assistant coach Yahya Atan said that they needed two players more to make up a squad as required under international hockey rules. 

“But we will definitely not call up senior players. We want to avoid a situation where they join us just for a holiday in Australia and opt out of the team after they return home,” said Yahya. 

“It is better to include juniors because they will be more committed and keen to play for the country. It will also be good exposure for them ahead of their preparation for other junior international assignments. 

“After failing to qualify for the Olympics, we must start building a formidable side to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.” 

Yahya and A. Arulselvaraj are taking charge of the senior team following the Malaysian Hockey Federation's (MHF) decision not to retain German Paul Lissek. The duo were assistants to Lissek in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Madrid. 

Yahya added that he would have a discussion with national junior coach Sarjit Singh today on the two possible players for the senior team. 

“Sarjit can help me identify a defender and forward to replace Gobinathan and Tajol,” said Yahya. 

Of the 16 players in senior side, 12 of them were in the side for the Olympic qualifiers – Roslan Jamaluddin, S. Kumar, S. Kuhan, K. Keevan Raj, Nor Azlan Bakar, Mohamed Amin Rahim, Jiwa Mohan, K. Logan Raj, Chua Boon Huat, Madzli Ikmar, S. Shanker and Norazlan Rahim. 

Four others – Mohamed Shukri Mutalib, Reduan Nasir, Ismail Abu and Azlan Misron – are back with the juniors. They have been replaced by Mohd Rodhanizam, Reduan Ponirin, Fairuz Ramli and Nishel Kumar. 

The juniors will play two friendly matches against the seniors today and tomorrow as part of their preparation for the Junior Asia Cup. 

Both the seniors and juniors have three matches each against the United States. 

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