Nabil Fiqri returns to national hockey squad

Nabil Fiqri returns to national hockey squad

KUALA LUMPUR: Midfielder Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor has been recalled to the national hockey squad preparing for the European Tour series.

The 33-year-old, who last played in the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India was called up by head coach Roelant Oltmans to join the training sessions last week.

“When I was called back to the national camp, I took it as a responsibility to the country where we have an important mission, that is to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics,” he told reporters when met at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

“Yes, I’m surprised to be called back but this is my responsibility to prove that I can still play with the national team,” added Nabil Fiqri, who has 298 caps with the national squad.

Nabil Fiqri, who has entered his fifth day of training with the national squad, noted that he felt comfortable with the team despite Roelant’s tactical changes.

He thinks his presence in the national team would create a healthy competition among the players in their quest to be chosen for the European Tour Series.

A total of 30 players were summoned by Oltmans for the national camp but only 20 players will be shortlisted for the European Tour Series squad which will depart on July 21.

Meanwhile, Oltmans said Nabil Fiqri was called up to join the national squad after some players suffered injuries, namely Muhammad Firhan Ashari, Muhammad Haziq Samsul and the latest, Luqman Nul Hakim Ahmad Shukran.

“Unfortunately, we have a couple of injuries. Haziq and Firhan, also Luqman at this moment not able to play. Nabil Fiqri was not part of the team in March. I asked him to be on standby, in case there are circumstances that require us to have him back in the team.

“He is willing to come back. It’s clear he can still help us to make qualification to the Olympics.

“He has to show in the coming weeks here in training and in at least one of the tours. From there, we will make a final decision on the player that will be competitive for the last phase of our preparation for the Olympics qualification,” he said.

Commenting on national goalkeeper S. Kumar, Oltmans said Kumar is doing well and is glad that he is back in training.

“The European Tour is not an official tournament; it is for us to develop our team towards the most important event, that is the qualification tournament for the Olympics. We have to make sure that Kumar is in top condition,” he said.