KUALA LUMPUR: Defender Chua Boon Huat takes the role of a forward in the team for the Asian Games and he will also have a new partner in the frontline – midfielder Azlan Misron.
And the duo could be joined by another senior player, Jiwa Mohan. The combination was tested during the recent tour of China.
National coach Wallace Tan hinted that he will opt for an experienced forward line for the challenges in the Doha Asiad but he would only confirm Azlan joining Boon Huat in attack.
There are 25 players in the training squad and the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) will name the final squad of 16 today at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
“Azlan will play as a forward in Doha. Chua will also play in that position as he has been quite effective in recent months. Azlan was tried out in the five matches in China. He adapted well and scored two goals.”
Over the past nine months, the forward line usually comprised Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Mohamed Rodhanizam and Ismail Abu with Boon Huat starting in defence before moving up during matches.
Boon Huat said that he had been asked to play as an out-and-out forward in the Asian Games.
“I have played in this position before and it's all right with me,” he said after a training session in Bukit Jalil.
“Azlan was tried out in the matches in China and he was quite effective. I don't see any problem linking up with him or any other player. He is also a very experienced player. The junior players can also be relied on, depending on the playing formation the coach opts for.”
Another player who is also showing good form as a forward is Bukit Jalil Sport School's Mohamed Razie Rahim. He was the top scorer in China with three goals.
“The youngsters have certainly given us more options,” said Boon Huat.
In the recent past, Boon Huat has been criticised for his performances, especially in the World Cup qualifiers in China.
“I'm still playing my normal game. I try not to be bothered too much by the remarks. For me, it is important to stay focused and to get the job done,” he said.
Boon Huat said that their task in Doha would be tough and they had to tread with caution in the group stage.
“Pakistan and Japan are the immediate threats but let's take one match at a time and try to achieve the objectives,” he said.
The MHF have set the team the target to win the gold medal. Malaysia's other opponents in Group A are Taiwan and Hong Kong.