There was a glint in the eyes of national coach Paul Revington when he was asked as to what was the realistic target that his team should aim for in the Champions Challeng 1 in Argentina later this month.
While many would have set a safe target, the South African showed remarkable confidence as he stated that Malaysia, as will the other seven competing nations, will aim to win the title.
Revs, as he prefers to be called could have used the easy way out and just followed what MHC Senior Vice President Dato Nur Azmi Ahmad did, that is to say MHC has no specific target given that this was the former Ireland coach’s first outing with the team.
“As I have stated from the first day, my aim is to make Malaysia into a winning side. And by that we have to aim towards winning matches, show consistency and above all have the confidence that we have a team capable of taking the best,” said Revs when naming the 18 players that will carry the nations hopes in the second tier tournament.
“While I need time to get to know the players better, that will not be an excuse. The team picked is the best available given the fact that we also need to give due attention to the team that will play in the Sultan of Johor Cup.”
Three players who were in the cold storage since 2010 have been given a second lease of life. They are Ismail Abu, Chua Boon Huat and Mohd Amerullah Aziz. And Jivan Mohan who took time off to complete his training as a Police Inspector has also found a place in the 18.
The inclusion of six former players had drew some flak but Revington said that he stood by his decision.
“They have proven themselves in competition and training and I have no regrets whatsoever by including them as I believe they can play a major role in the team,” said Revington.
“There is an opportunity to blood the youngsters in the Asian Champions Trophy and we will sit down and decide on the composition of the team after the Champions Challenge.”
Conspicously missing are Hafifihafiz Hanafi and Izwan Firdaus,both of whom were in the team in Dublin who failed to make it to the London Olympics. And two other players making a return, Jiwa Mohan and Mohd Sallehin Abdul Ghani failed to secure a spot.
Nine of the players dropped from the final squad - Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi, Mohammad Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Mohd Syamim Mohd Yusof, Mohd Azri Hassan, Mohd Firhan Ashaari, Mohd Ramadan Rosli, Mohd Noor Faeez Ibrahim, Norhizzat Sumantri, Shazril Irwan Nazli will be eligible to play in the Sultan of Johor Cup.
Ironically the decision to drop this players has given a welcome boos to Juniors coach K. Dharmaraj who will minus the likes of Faisal Saari, Mohd Fitri Saari and Faiz Helmi, have 15 players who won the Junior Asia Cup in May this year to pick his final 18 this Friday.
“No doubt the decision to leave some juniors out will strengthened our team and we are now confident of retaining our title,” said Dharma.
“But ultimately all players need to prove their worth and there are no assured places for anyone in the SOJC.”
Azlan Misron, Baljit Singh, Chua Boon Huat, Faiz Helmi Jali, Faizal Saari, Ismail Abu, Jivan Mohan, S. Kumar, Mohd Shukri Mutalib, Mohd Fitri Saari, Mohd Shahrun Nabil Abdullah, Mohd Amin Rahim, Mohd Amerullah Abdul Aziz, Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil, Muhammad Razie Abdul Rahim, Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor, Roslan Jamaluddin, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin.
Jiwa Mohan, Mohd Sallehin Abdul Ghani, Hafifihafiz Hanafi, Izwan Firdaus, Shahrin Mohammad, Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi, Mohammad Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Mohd Syamim Mohd Yusof, Mohd Azri Hassan, Mohd Firhan Ashaari, Mohd Ramadan Rosli, Mohd Noor Faeez Ibrahim, Norhizzat Sumantri, Shazril Irwan Nazli.