Eleven fresh faces as hockey looks to the future

National hockey team coach Roelant Oltmans has opted for 11 fresh faces as he embarks on a rebuilding process to elevate the Speedy Tigers to a higher level.

The Dutch coach has also omitted five seasoned players including skipper Sukri Mutalib, the Saari brothers Faizal and Fitri, Nabil Fikri Mohd Noor and Joel van Huizen from his 34-player squad for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh from April 11-18.

The new-look team will start their centralised training camp on March 2 and will be evaluated for three weeks before the squad is trimmed to 28 players for the Azlan Shah Cup.

Oltman said he dropped the five players for various reasons but they might be considered for other assignments.

“The five have asked to be excluded as some of them wanted to play overseas and focus on building their career… we wish them luck as they are taking a break from the national team, ” Oltman told a press conference yesterday.

The 65-year-old coach also said he will be looking if the players are physically ready to play on the international stage.

“We still have the core of the players in the team and we wanted to bring extra players especially youngsters to bolster the squad… this is a part of our rebuilding for the long-term with plans to qualify for the next World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.”

“We have our criteria to pick the players for the Azlan Shah Cup and it’s now up to the players to raise their game and show their potential.”

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