Tigresses captain Juliani set to reach historic 200-cap mark

KUALA LUMPUR: Captain Juliani Din is set to become the first national women's hockey player to earn 200 caps during the Olympic qualifier in Valencia, Spain, on Jan 13-20.

The 38-year-old penalty corner specialist, who has been playing for the Speedy Tigresses for almost two decades, has so far earned 196 caps.

Sabah-born Juliani said it would be an honour to achieve the milestone during the qualifier.

"Age is just a number for me, I am determined to represent the nation as long as I am fit. I will give my best in the qualifier," said Juliani, who has won six Sea Games gold medals.

World No. 18 Malaysia are in Group B with No. 7 Britain, eighth-ranked Spain and No. 16 Canada.

Group A consists of Belgium, Ireland, South Korea and Ukraine.

"Although the other teams in the group are ranked higher than us, it does not mean we will not be giving a good fight during the tournament," said the Malaysian Army sergeant.

"We showed fighting qualities during the Asian Champions Trophy in November, where we held higher-ranked South Korea to a 1-1 draw.

"This is my third, probably my last, Olympic qualifier, and I want it to be a memorable tournament."

The team earned a ticket to play in the qualifier after finishing fifth at the Hangzhou Asian Games in October.

National coach Nasihin Nubli hopes Juliani will be at her best in Valencia.

"It is a proud moment for women's hockey, having a player reaching 200 caps for the first time.

"I am confident she will do well as the national captain and guide others in Valencia," said Nasihin.

The team will be without experienced forward Hanis Nadiah Onn for the qualifier as she is recovering from knee surgery.

Nasihan will pick 18 players from his 24-member squad for the Valencia tournament.

"We will play two friendlies against New Zealand on Friday and Saturday before departing to Valencia on Sunday," he added.

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