Diminutive forward Faizal Saari was thrilled to be joint top scorer with India’s Rupinder Pal Singh in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament which ended in Ipoh on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Terengganu player, who scored six goals – five from penalty corners and one penalty stroke in Ipoh – said he wants to continue his scoring form in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) which begins on Friday.
Faizal, who has good dribbling skills, will be gunning for his third consecutive top scorer’s award in the MHL.
The versatile striker, who has the ability to score field and penalty corners goals, joined Tenaga Nasional in 2010. And a year later he was the top scorer with 18 goals and last year he scored 20 to win the award again.
Faizal, who has 105 international caps to his credit, said that he was more than pleased with his scoring prowess in the tournament although they failed to win the elusive Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Faizal gave Malaysia the lead in the fourth minute but Australia, ranked second in the world, fought back to take a 2-1 lead.
Malaysia levelled the score in the second-half but Australian scored the winning goal in the dying second for a 3-2 victory in the final on Sunday.
Faizal said being the joint top scorer in the tournament has boosted his confidence for another good outing in the MHL and he will go all out to help Tenage win at least one title.
Tenaga finished runners-up in the league and the overall tournament after losing to KL Hockey Club, who clinched the double last year.
Faizal said that this season they would be able to match all the other seven teams in the Premier Division because they have the services of seven national players.
Besides Faizal, the other internationals in the Tenaga team are goalkeeper S. Kumar, defenders Mohd Faiz Helmi, Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Mohd Amin Rahim and Mohd Sallehin Ghani, midfielders Norhizzat Sumantri and Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil.
The Tampin-born Kumar, who was named the Best Goalkeeper in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, will be a hard man to beat during the league.Marhan, who played for Sapura last season, joined Tenaga this year.
Tenaga also have the services of former national forward Mohd Firhan Ashaari and striker Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi, who is also in the national training squad.
Project 2013 squad’s forward Mohd Ramadhan Rosli has also joined Tenaga.
Besides Tenaga and KLHC the other teams in the Premier Division are Sapura, Maybank, Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), Nur Insafi and debutants Terengganu.
Tenaga will play the charity shield match against KLHC at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Pitch 2 at 8pm on Sunday.