Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tough for Dharma's boys

FIXTURES: Nov 11: Malaysia v Sri Lanka; Nov 12: Malaysia v Taiwan; Nov 14: Malaysia v Myanmar; Nov 16: Malaysia v India; Nov 18: Malaysia v Pakistan.

MALAYSIA have been grouped with India and Pakistan in the Second Boys Under-18 Asia Cup, in Yangon, Myanmar on Nov 11-22.
The other teams in Malaysia’s group are Taiwan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. In Group B are Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh.
Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj is perplexed with the groupings, which has made the task of reaching the semi-finals that much tougher.
“I am surprised that India and Pakistan are in the same group with us, and I believe the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have asked FIH on what basis the groupings were done.
“It will be a tough tournament for us, as India and Pakistan are well known to be strong in age-group tournaments,” said Dharmaraj.
The gold medallists in Yangon will earn a ticket to play in the Youth Olympics in Singapore next year.
India hammered Uzbekistan 7-0 in the first edition, as they were powered by a team which won the Junior World Cup in Tasmania the same year.
“We should not have any problems playing the first three matches, and I believe if India and Pakistan register under-18 players, then we will have a fair chance
India are serious about eradicating overage players and have conducted wrist x-rays to determine the age of players who turned up at their selection camp.
Interestingly, in the first selection Indian Hockey Federation sent home 48 players out of the 53 picked up for the Asia Cup camp as they were found overage when put through digital bone x-ray tests.
Dharmaraj will also field Faizal Saari, even though the player will only be available for the last match against Pakistan after finishing his obligation with the senior side in the World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand from Nov 7-15.