MALAYSIA are expected to face a tough time against Pakistan in the final of the Under-18 Asia Cup in Myanmar, but coach K. Dharmaraj is ready with a few tricks to claim the gold medal.
Dharmaraj said his players are eager to bury the 4-3 defeat to Pakistan in a Group A match: “Pakistan players are taller and more matured than the Malaysian boys, and for the first time, I am seeing a robust approach from them.
“But the defeat in the group match cannot be taken as a yardstick, as I rested many key players, including my goal keeper then,” said Dharmaraj.
And with Faizal Shaari, who scored three goals in the World Cup Qualifier in Invercargill, spearheading the attack, it is expected to be an explosive final.
“Fizal arrived in time to play Pakistan and scored three goals in our 4-3 defeat. But then, he did not have his shoes and hockey stick which just arrived last night (Saturday).
“With his gear back, and all my players fired-up for a re- match with Pakistan, I expect the boys to claim the ticket to the Youth Olympics in Singapore next year,” said Dhar maraj.
Malaysia, according to Dharmaraj, were shell-shocked when Pakistan players played a robust game and had every man behind the ball in the earlier encounter.
“This is a new look Pakistan, and looked more like a European side. However, I have analysed the match, and there are a few loopholes which can lead to goals,” said Dharmaraj.
In the route to the final, Malaysia beat India 3-2 and then South Korea 3-2 in the semi-finals.
Indian Hockey Federation, for the first time, had conducted wrist tests on all their players to determine their age before selecting them for the Asia Cup.