From hockey poster boy to forlorn star

Striker Faizal Saari hopes to be a talent scout or play abroad after being dropped from the national hockey team.

PETALING JAYA: Crest fallen Malaysian hockey star Faizal Saari who was controversially dropped from the national squad is a sad and lonely man.

The 29-year-old poster boy of hockey for several years now shuns the limelight. He avoids the media.

He is still devastated over his exclusion from the “Speedy Tigers” in February, and the continuing criticism by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC).

Faizal, who has 247 national caps and 170 goals to his credit since 2009, was in the centre of fire by MHC president Subahan Kamal and coach Roelant Oltmans during a webinar on June 13.

Hockey star Faizal Saari, a sad and lonely figure these days.

Responding to a fan’s question why Faizal was omitted from the squad, Roelant inferred indifferent attitude and playing for money.

Subahan interjected, saying superstars had in the past been dropped with no reason given.

On Monday, Faizal, poured his heart out to his former coach K Dharmaraj over the latest MHC reproach.

Dharmaraj told FMT that Faizal was unhappy over the continuing attacks by MHC and wanted to be left alone.

He said the Terengganu player had put behind his omission from the team to the now cancelled Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

Also dropped were his brother Fitri and national skipper Sukri Mutalib, Nabil Fikri Mohd Noor and Joel van Huizen for different reasons which Roelant did not disclose.

Dharmaraj said Faizal was keen on being a talent scout and had approached the Terengganu Hockey Club (THT) to be one.

“He is a complete player and his experience will be invaluable to younger players,” he said.

Dharmaraj, close confidante of Faizal Saari.

Dharmaraj said Faizal was also considering playing abroad and had even offered to assist him coach in Indonesia.

Faizal was a key member of the 2009 Under-18 Asia Cup and 2014 national teams that Dharmaraj coached.

“Faizal might have been immature and indisciplined as a younger player, but he has grown out of it over the last two years,” said Dharmaraj.

He said Faizal apologised to him for his conduct as a young player.

“I told him the bright city lights might have got the better of him, but more importantly he rose above it to repent and become a top striker,” he added.

In the meantime, Faizal lives with his wife in Ipoh and helps his mother with her food business when he goes to Terengganu.

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