Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Muralee wants to call shots


By Ajitpal Singh
THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) calls the shots when it comes to the release of Junior World Cup-bound players for local tournaments and coach V. Muraleedharan (pic) wants to change this.
Muraleedharan, who has lost patience after a series of failures, wants his players to be barred from all local tournaments in preparation for the world meet, which Malaysia will be co-hosting with Singapore on July 7-21 next year in order to ensure a respectful showing.
He has warned that if the trend continues, his team will face heavy weather at the world meet.He attributed the poor performance in all tournaments for lack of training time to rectify the team's weaknesses.Since taking charge of the squad in December last year, the players were released twice for local meets, namely the National Junior Hockey League (NJHL) in March and the Terengganu Malaysia Games in June.
And if MHF does not chance its stand, the players will be released for the National Hockey League in December and the next year's NJHL, prior to the World Cup.
"I'm confident of transforming the team provided I am able to hold on to them for the next 11 months," said Muraleedharan, when contacted in Hyderabad where the junior team is taking part in the Junior Asia Cup, yesterday.
"I have good players but currently they suffer from lack of physical strength and fitness. They just can't sustain the 70 minutes.
"I wanted to work with them between March and June for the Tour of Europe and the Junior Asia Cup, but training was halted for two months because of local events (NJHL and Malaysia Games)," he said.
He also hopes that his team will be able to withdraw from the Razak Cup on Aug 2-10.
"The players need a break. They have been competing non-stop since the Malaysia Games." he added.Since last year, Muraleedharan has achieved nothing but failures in preparation for the world meet.
In his first tournament as coach at the Eight-Nation in Kuala Lumpur in January, the team finished last.
In the tour of Europe, the squad played nine matches and won only two. They suffered embarrassing defeats to minnows like Austria and Poland.
At the ongoing Junior Asia Cup, the team struggled to a 2-2 draw against Singapore before losing to India (3-1) and Japan (3-1).
They play Oman in the fifth-to-eight classification match.