K. RAJAN, Malaysia's Junior World Cup coach, considers himself very lucky as he has three penalty corner flickers who are challenging each other to the limit.
And with top flicker Nor Hafiq Ghaffar still in the midst of recovering after an appendix operation, he has been overtaken by Ahmad Kazamirul.
Malaysia and Singapore will co-host the Junior World Cup on June 7-21 with each country hosting 10 teams.
"Not many teams in the world can boast of having three penalty corner flickers, and so I consider myself lucky as I have many options to play.
"All three have been doing well, and pushing themselves to the limit, and this healthy competition has made them sharper," said Rajan.
The third flicker is Faizal Saari.
"With Faizal also looking dangerous now, I will at least have two of them on the pitch at any one time, and the player who takes the first flick knows he has to get it right if not he will be replaced for the second penalty corner."
On fitness, Rajan is also pleased with the progress of his charges.
"When we played nine friendlies in Europe, after the third match, my players looked like they had just returned from a war zone," Rajan said.
"But now, they can last a fast-paced match, and still keep their form for a string of matches."
Meanwhile, Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary Hashim Yusof said yesterday that all the matches at Taman Daya Stadium will be free of charge, including the final.
"Malaysia will not be selling tickets for the tournament, but Singapore will at their stadium.
"The people of Johor should take this opportunity to come and watch some top quality matches for free," said Hashim.
Both the pitches in Johor are ready for the tournament, and Spain, who are in Malaysia's group, arrived a few days ago and have already started training at the venue.
Besides Spain, Malaysia have South Korea, England and the United States for company, and Rajan is aiming for a top-two finish in the group to qualify for the quarter-finals.