National junior hockey player Mohd Shahril Saabah (left) playing for Thunderbolt in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League in 2013.
KUALA LUMPUR: There’s good news for National Junior Mohd Shahril Saabah, who only returned to the national hockey team a month ago after nursing an injured shoulder.
Shahril was supposed to have undergone surgery but managed to recover without having to go under the knife.
This has led the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) to include him in their final 18 for the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in Belgium from June 20-July 5.
Sixteen of the 18 players who featured in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in March have also been retained. The two dropped were Mohd Ramadan Rosli, who is injured, and defender Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin.
Also dropped from the 25-man training squad were Mohd Hafiz Zainol, Azreen Rizal, Mohd Hafizuddin Othman, Mohd Azri Hassan and Mohd Rashid Baharom.
The other player who has found his way back into the squad is forward Izwan Firdaus.
“We have picked the players based on merit. Shahril was injured but recover to make the trip to Europe last month. There, we found that the injury did not affect his play. The doctors have also given him the green light to play,” said national coach Tai Beng Hai.
Two other National Juniors also made the final 18. They are Meor Mohd Azuan Hassan and Mohd Haziq Shamsul.
Controversial forward Faizal Saari too was included.
“I believe that he (Faizal) will be an asset ... he has shown marked improvement in his fitness. Overall, we’re happy that the players are committed and showing greater zest in their game,” said Beng Hai.
The team will leave for Holland on June 14 and play three friendlies before moving to Belgium. The friendlies will be against the Dutch Under-21 team (two matches) and Brazil.
The World Hockey League Semi-Finals is a qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
World No. 12 Malaysia are in Group B with Belgium, Britain, Ireland and China. Group A has Australia, India, Pakistan, France and Poland.
The top three teams will automatically qualify for the Rio Olympics.
THE FINAL 18
S. Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin, Mohd Razie Rahim, Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil, Mohd Shukri Mutalib, C. Baljit Singh, Azlan Misrun, Mohd Shahrun Nabil Abdullah, Nabil Fiqri Mohd Nor, Faiz Helmi Jali, Mohd Firhan Azhaari, Faizal Saari, Izwan Firdaus, Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Mohd Haziq Shamsul, Mohd Sharil Saabah, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Meor Mohd Azuan Hassan.
The Star Online