Time for a hockey goalie to step out of Kumar’s shadow

WITH S Kumar finally calling time on his career after nearly two decades, the time has come for one of the four hockey goalkeepers called up for national training to build his own legacy, said national assistant coach (goalkeeping) Mohd Nasihin Nubli Ibrahim.

That is the challenge he has thrown down to the four — Mohammad Hairi Abd Rahman, Adrian Andy Albert, Mohamad Hazrul Faiz Ahmad Sobri and Muhamad Zaimi Mat Deris — who are among 31 players undergoing national training at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

“There is no doubt that Kumar is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. But I want these four goalkeepers to realise that it’s time they build a new legacy.

“Kumar has helped them all these while. Now, it’s time they show their capabilities and get out of his shadow,” the former national goalkeeper told reporters after the team’s training session yesterday.

Kumar, 40, announced his retirement in February after the national team failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games. He started representing Malaysia in 1999, accumulating 321 international caps and now coaches the national junior squad.

Meanwhile, Mohd Nasihin said national forward Muhammad Firhan Ashari, who is back in training after being out of action for almost a year due to a left knee injury, will have to prove himself all over again.

“He seems motivated to get back into the squad after missing out on several major tournaments. So now, he will have to prove his credentials again to get back his starting spot even though there aren’t many experienced players in the squad,” he said.

The 27-year-old, who is clearly delighted to get back to playing again, admitted to feeling a bit clumsy during his first training session on Wednesday.

However, he is confident that he will be able to regain his old form.

Although many seniors are no longer with the team, the environment is still the same and I will have to guide the younger players so that we have a good understanding,” he said. — Bernama