KUANTAN (23 APRIL 2014): Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Abdul Jalil has been enduring a dry spell as a ‘hit-man’ in front of goal and hopes to rediscover his form when Malaysia open its campaign in the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 against France on Saturday at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan.
“To be honest, I am deeply frustrated with myself. I just can’t seem to find the clue as to why I have suddenly lost touch looking for the goals. Personally, I think I am doing everything right on the pitch but I have not been able to get my name on the score sheet consistently of late,” said Tengku Ahmad, who plays a formidable role as a forward.
“I am very grateful that the coach (K. Dharmaraj) still has his trust in me and I hope I can repay him with a good performance in Kuantan,” added the 28-year-old who has 221 international caps to his credit.
Tengku Ahmad, nicknamed ‘Zidane’, scored only once in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in March and in the recent six-match test series against China he could only find the net twice at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Malaysia’s best ever achievement in the Champions Challenge 1 was a fourth place finish in 2001 and 2012 respectively and Dharmaraj could not have looked for a better opportunity than the home ground advantage to steer things around this time and in the process win qualification to the 2016 Champions Trophy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Apart from France, the Malaysians have for company Canada and the formidable Koreans in Group B while New Zealand, Japan, Poland and Ireland are drawn in Group A.
However, Tengku Ahmad’s contribution on the pitch has been second to none and with Dharmaraj opting to give the younger strikers more exposure, Tengku Ahmad has taken up a supporting role.
“With the experience I have, I am trying to help the younger players get into stride. In the last few matches, I have been doing a lot of running from midfield and lots of tracking back and defending as well,” said the most respected striker and defender in the Malaysian squad.
“To do all those things at the same time can be rather difficult but as much as I am disappointed with my form, I think I have taken up this new role rather well,” added Tengku.
Dharmaraj has named six strikers – Tengku Ahmad, Muhammad Firhaan Ashari, Faizal Saari, Muhammad Shahril Saabah, Ismail Abu and Rashid Bahrom in his squad for the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan.
As one of the most experienced striker alongside Ismail Abu Abu Bakar, Tengku Ahmad is confident that any form of partnership with Ismail could spell trouble for the opposition.
“It is good to see Ismail back in the squad as for the younger boys I think they have done exceptionally well during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, but there is a lot more for them to learn and it is in tournaments like this that they have to step up and prove themselves,” said Tengku Ahmad. “The younger boys have blended in well and so far have really impressed me and I hope they continue to do so.”
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