IPOH: Young players who have been given the opportunity to play for the national hockey team are expected to adapt quickly to the intensity of international matches to help boost the overall performance of the Speedy Tigers squad.

Star striker Faizal Saari said that each player has a different timeline to reach maturity, but if they do so quickly, it will benefit the national squad as they face several major tournaments throughout the year.

The 32-year-old also expressed hope that the Speedy Tigers would maintain their fighting spirit to achieve the best outcome, after missing the chance to defend the title at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (PSAS) 2024.

“The quicker they adapt, the better. The other senior players and I will try to help the team bounce back and get something out of the PSAS.

“I think the younger players like Azimuddin (Syakir Kamaruddin, who has scored two goals so far) are on the rise. If given continued opportunities, he can score more goals,“ he told reporters.

Faizal urged all players to work harder because after the SASC, Malaysia will not have much time before the Nations Cup in Poland from May 30 to June 9 and the Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) from Sept 8-17 in Inner Mongolia, China.

“We have a large group, about 30 players in the longlist, with each player getting a chance. Any player selected for Poland, fight hard because our team is on the decline; if not the players in the squad, who else will fight for the national team?” he said.

Malaysia missed the chance to advance to the PSAS final after losing 4-5 to Pakistan and 1-2 to Japan, despite victories of 6-2 against Canada and 6-4 against New Zealand at the Azlan Shah Hockey Stadium here.

Sarjit Singh’s squad will complete the round-robin league against South Korea tonight and are expected to face New Zealand in the third-fourth place playoff tomorrow.