Ipoh: Veteran Chua Boon Huat, a rare breed of Malaysian player to have figured in all major hockey events since making his international debut in 1999, was the cynosure of all eyes on day one of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament here.
The 33-year-old, with 321 appearances is the highest capped player for Malaysia, having first played in the 1999 edition of the tournament before being dropped from the national side in 2009.
Huat, who sports a handsome little ponytail, said he was happy to have played his part in his team's win over Korea, striking two crucial goals at the death. For Huat, it was a satisfying moment as it helped the team to start the event on a winning note. Having figured in the World Cup, Olympics, Champions Trophy, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Asia Cup, Huat said he feels free of the pressure factor with nothing more to prove.
A file photo of veteran Malaysia player Chua Boon Huat and Argentina's Mario Almada. (Getty Images)
Huat is pleased that Malaysia are back on the world stage after missing out the last two World Cups and Olympics. The Malacca-born was skipper of the 2001 national junior team which figured in the World Cup in Hobart. Save for the post of goalkeeping, Huat has played in all positions in his long, distinguished career.
Huat, happy to man the forward slot in the present edition, owed his recall to the national team to coach Paul Revington, and Saturday's twin strikes was his way of saying thanks to the confidence reposed on him. He hopes to be around for some more time though, aware that at 33 he is not getting younger and has to make room for the youngsters.
Having figured in two finals for Malaysia in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, in 2007 and 2009 - with Malaysia losing both, Huat has every reason to feel that it could be third time lucky for him and his team.