THE National Juniors have been far from impressive in their Malaysia Hockey League Division One debut, and a pale shadow of themselves compared to how they performed in the Razak Cup.
Malaysia and Singapore will co-host the Junior World Cup on June 7-21 next year which leaves coach K. Rajan with only nine months to whip the team into shape.
“Yes, there is a drastic drop in form in the two matches they have played, but there is nothing to worry because I do not have the best (players) with me,” said Rajan. “Eight of my better players are with other MHL teams, and I am giving everyone in my team a chance to play so that I can have a good picture at the end of the MHL.
“Fitness, overall, is still not at best but I am confident they will be ready when we host the World Cup.”
In their opening encounter, the Juniors lost 3-1 to Tenaga Nasional in a match they should have wrapped up if not for blowing a handful of open chances.
Against Maybank, the Juniors were at their worst and looked lost when presented with opportunities, and not surprisingly, lost 3-2.
Rajan has more than 30 players in training but will trim the squad after the MHL.
“After giving all of them a fair chance in the MHL, I will drop those who consistently under-perform and by Jan, I will have the best with me and will then start whipping them into shape,” Rajan added.
The MHL is only two matches old but already it looks like in Division One, only Sapura and Tenaga Nasional have enough firepower to stop League champions Ernst & Young from claiming their maiden MHL double.
Fixtures — Oct 31 — Division One: Sapura v Tenaga Nasional (KLHA Stadium, 7pm), Maybank v Ernst & Young (Seremban II Stadium, 5pm), National Juniors v Nur Insafi (National Stadium Pitch I, 7pm).
Division Two: Alam Shah School v Bandar Penawar SS (National Stadium Pitch II, 7pm), UiTM v Border Forces Club (Pandamaran Stadium, 5pm), Royal Malay Regiment v UNIMAP (Tun Razak Stadium, 7pm), JLJD v Dolphins (Tun Razak Stadium, 9pm).