Friday March 8, 2013
Veteran player Boon Huat going for his 11th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup meet
By S. RAMAGURU
KUALA LUMPUR: At 33-years-old, he is among the rare breed of Malaysian players to have featured in all major hockey events since making his national debut in 1999.
Tomorrow, Chua Boon Huat (pic) will be making history when he steps out for his 11th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
The tournament is in its 22nd edition this year.
Boon Huat, who has 321 caps, first played in the 1999 edition and his last was in 2009. He was then dropped from the national team.
He was out for three years until being recalled to the side last October.
For a player who has already graced the World Cup, Olympics, Champions Trophy, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Asia Cup, there is nothing much left for him to prove.
But being the fighter that he is, Boon Huat is still excited about playing the game at the highest level.
“I love the sport and want to contribute as much as I can to the national team,” he said yesterday.
“It’ll be good to see Malaysia back on the world stage as we missed out on the last two World Cups and Olympics.
“Helping the team get back into the fold is a challenge by itself.”
The Malacca-born was skipper of the 2001 National Junior team who featured in the Junior World Cup in Hobart.
Except for the position of goalkeeper, Boon Huat has played in all other areas and excelled in every one of them. He now plays as a forward.
Boon Huat is glad to have been given another chance to play for the national team by new coach Paul Revington.
“I didn’t have to think twice about making a comeback. I’ve said before that I’ll continue to play for as long I have the drive and commitment,” said Boon Huat.
Boon Huat has played in two finals in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup — in 2007 and 2009. Malaysia lost both times.
“It’ll be great to be on the winning side for a change. That’ll complete a unique record for me. But right now I’ll settle for a consistent and improved display in each game. There are long term targets for the team and that’s the priority for all of us,” he said.
Malaysia’s opening match will be against South Korea tomorrow. And what’s interesting is that it was South Korean coach Paul Lissek, of Germany, who handed Boon Huat his debut for Malaysia.