Maybank’s Hanafi out to stop E&Y star strikers

KUALA LUMPUR: Maybank goalkeeper Mohamed Hanafi Hassan is looking forward to coming up against a forwardline comprising all national players when his team play against Ernst and Young in a TNB-Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Division One match at the National Hockey Stadium here today. 

The 24-year-old Hanafi, who is one of the goalkeepers in the national training squad, feels that a good performance against the defending league champions will help him establish himself as the number one in the country. 

“Ernst and Young have a very talented and experienced side. And I am excited that I will be coming up against Ismail (Abu), Tengku Ahmad (Tajuddin), (Chua) Boon Huat and Mohamed Razie (Rahim),” he said yesterday. 

“It will be a good test for me and I will be out to stop them from scoring tomorrow. We will start as the underdogs but we want to win this match to improve on our chances to win the title.” 

Maybank have played two matches – beating Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) 5-1 and losing to Tenaga Nasional (1-3). Their third against Sapura was abandoned in the 19th minute because of heavy rain. 

Ernst and Young earned their first win on Wednesday, beating BJSS 9-0 with former national junior Zulkifli Rejab going on target four times. And Hanafi feels that the defender will be the big threat to his team from the penalty corner. 

“He did not score in the previous matches and the four goals against BJSS will surely boost his confidence. We have to defend the penalty corner stoutly and it is important that we play to instructions.” 

Hanafi joined Maybank in 2003 and the following year, he was one of the two goalkeepers in the national team for the Junior Asia Cup in Karachi. 

Since then has been a regular member of the national senior training squad but a place in the final squad of 18 for a tournament remains elusive. Hanafi believes that a good showing in the MHL this year will give him a major break. 

“I want to don national colours. I believe that there is not much difference in standard among the goalkeepers in the training squad and I stand a good chance of making it,” he said. 

The current number one is S. Kumar and the other goalkeeper in the team is Khairul Nizam Ibrahim, who was the first-choice for the 2004 Junior Asia Cup. 

“But I feel it is still an open fight. I joined Maybank to get the opportunity to play matches and at the same time establish myself. I want to make the grade this year,” said the Malacca-born player. 

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