2023 World Cup Tournament: Arul Selvaraj Aims to Strengthen Team Performance

By: Michelle Liew

With the objective of strengthening the team’s performance and consistent victories, head coach of the national hockey squad A. Arul Selvaraj is considering on bringing a reserve player to play in the 2023 Hockey World Cup tournament, after national striker Muhammad Sharil Saabah was injured during the match against Chile at the Birsa Munda Stadium, Rourkela in India, on Sunday.

The move will improve the squad’s stance and ensure that the team will be ready to face the New Zealand national squad in the upcoming match.

Manager Datuk Mirnawan Nawawi said in an inter-management meeting with Arul Selvaraj on Monday, the Speedy Tigers manager informed that he still needed some time before making a decision.

"Player Muhammad Shahril was injured (left leg hamstring) yesterday during the match against the Chilean team, it was seen as a serious injury after being examined by medical experts. Arul Selvaraj saw the possibility of a change of players but still does not know who yet.

"He still needs some time to decide which reserve players will be brought in to strengthen the attack machinery, throughout the 2023 World Cup matches," he said.

Mirnawan informed that the national squad had left for Bhubaneswar, India from Rourkela, India yesterday, to continue the fight against New Zealand, who is also the number nine team in the world at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar, in the last match of group C.

In the opening action of Group C last Saturday, Malaysia under the guidance of Arul Selvaraj had to come to terms with the power of three-time champions The Netherlands when they lost 4-0 at the Birsa Munda Stadium, Rourkela.

Yesterday, they bounced back after falling behind in the early stages of the match before narrowly defeating Chile 3-2, in the second match of Group C.

The Netherlands remains top of Group C with six points after a stylish 4-0 win over New Zealand, in Monday's other action.

New Zealand who collected three points is now in second place, followed by Malaysia in third place also with three points, while Chile is at the bottom with no points.

According to the format of the tournament, the group winners will advance to the quarter-finals, while the second and third-placed teams will play against the teams of Group D (England, India, Spain, Wales) in the knockout round, for a slot in the quarter-finals