'Hockey veterans' Marhan, Faizal eye comeback under new coach Sarjit

KUALA LUMPUR: Defender Marhan Jalil and forward Faizal Saari are not ready to give up on their hopes of donning the national men's hockey team jersey under newly appointed coach Sarjit Singh.

Both the junior and senior teams were disbanded in January following disappointments at the Junior World Cup in December and the Olympic Qualifiers in January.

Sarjit, named as A. Arul Selvaraj's replacement on Monday, is starting from scratch to rebuild the national team.

The ex-national player hinted at the possibility of including a few seniors from Arul's squad to form the core of the new Speedy Tigers.

Sarjit projects that it will take between 14 and 18 months to assess and transform the team into a contender for the Asian Games gold in 2026.

Marhan, who turned 34 today and has 302 caps, was the captain under Arul.

Although age is catching up, Marhan believes he can still contribute to the national team.

"Age is just a number. I am still in good shape to play international hockey for another two or three years," said Marhan, who made his international debut at the 2009 Champions Challenge Two in Dublin.

"I hope the new coach, Sarjit, will give me a chance to fight for a place in his squad."

"I have the experience to play in defence and midfield. I was a natural midfielder before the former coach converted me into a defender.

Marhan added his main goal is to help Malaysia win an Asian Games gold medal in 2026 in Nagoya.

For the record, Marhan has played in three World Cups in 2014 (The Hague, the Netherlands), 2018 (Bhubaneswar, India) and 2023 (Bhubaneswar and Rourkela).

Faizal, 33, who was dropped from Arul's squad for the Olympic Qualifiers, is also eager to continue playing for the Speedy Tigers.

"I often keep in touch with coach Sarjit, and I hope he will consider me in his training squad.

"Although I am 33, I can still play well. I want to play for Malaysia again," said Faizal, who has earned 285 caps and has featured in three World Cups and three Asian Games.

Penalty corner specialist and Police inspector Razie Rahim has not decided whether to continue playing for the country.

"One of the reasons is my job. Although I am on leave to play hockey until next year, I need time to think about my hockey career," said Razie, who is the country's most experienced player with 330 caps.

Turning 37 in August, he is playing for Maybank in the ongoing Malaysian Hockey League and has scored 14 goals — 12 from penalty corners and two from penalty strokes..

Sarjit will reveal his list of 42 trainees on March 10, and they will gather for training on March 19 to prepare for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh on May 4-11.

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