Injuries have forced the Malaysian women’s hockey team to make two changes to the side who played in the Commonwealth Games for their Asian Games campaign.
Terengganu’s Nor Hasikin Halim and Selangor’s Nurul Shafiqah Mat Isa have been called up to replace the injured duo of Surizan Awang Noh and Fatin Shapiqa Mohd Shukri respectively.
“We have basically retained the Glasgow Commonwealth Games team (who finished seventh out of 10 teams). We need an experienced line-up as the challenge in Incheon is tough. Our target is to make the semi-finals,” said team manager P. Chitra Dewi.
The semi-finals could be a tough ask for the team, who finished fifth in the last two editions of the Asian Games – in 2006 (Doha) and 2010 (Guangzhou).
Malaysia are in Group A with defending champions China, Thailand, India. Group B comprises Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Kazakhstan.
Malaysia face China on Sept 22, followed by Thailand on Sept 24 and India on Sept 26.
Assistant coach Ernawati Mohamed said that the women must finish second in their group if they are to meet the semi-final target.
China have been the champions since 2002 in Busan while South Korea and Japan are likely to challenge them for the gold medal this time.
Malaysia won the bronze medal in the 1982 Games in New Delhi when the event made its debut. They finished fourth in 1986 in Seoul and did not participate in the event again until 2006 in Doha.
Last year, the national women’s team surprised everyone by winning the bronze medal in the Asian Champions Trophy in Kakamigahara, Japan.
But repeating that feat in Incheon will be a tall order, indeed.
Farah Ayuni Yahya, Nor Hasikin Halim, Nurul Nabiha Mansur, Norhasliza Md Ali, Raja Norsharina Raja Shabuddin, Siti Noor Amarina Ruhani, Juliani Mohd Din, Norbaini Hashim, Siti Shahida Saad, Norazlin Sumantri, Nuraini Abdul Rashid, Nadia Abdul Rahman, Nurul Shafiqah Mat Isa, Fazilla Sylvester Silin, Siti Noor Hafiza Zainordin, Rabiatul Adawiyah - The Star online