Forward Shahril urges Speedy Tigers to silence critics

KUALA LUMPUR: The national men's hockey team can only silence their critics by qualifying for the Paris Olympics, said forward Shahril Saabah.

Malaysia have failed to qualify for the Olympics for 24 years, leaving followers of the sport here disillusioned.

"We need to silence our critics and make fans have faith in the national team again," said Shahril.

He added that the players are determined to make it to Paris as this will enable them to get a much better monthly training allowance under the Road to Gold (RTG) Programme for the Olympics.

World No. 12 Malaysia need to finish top three in Muscat to qualify for the Olympics.

The Speedy Tigers will play world No. 23 China on Jan 15, world No. 4 Great Britain on Jan 16 and world No. 16 Pakistan on Jan 18 in Group A.

Shahril admitted that the Speedy Tigers will start as underdogs against all three teams in their group.

"In the Asian Games, we drew (4-4) against China who topped the group to qualify for the semi-finals while we finished third.

"We were outplayed (5-2) by Pakistan in the fifth placing match and we have never beaten Great Britain in the Olympic Qualifier before.

"So we will have to defy the odds and get the better of China and Pakistan to reach the semi-finals," said 30-year-old Shahril, who has represented Malaysia 150 times since 2014, and scored 22 goals.

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