THE national seniors team has withdrawn from playing in a Moscow Four-Nation, after the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) found out that their targeted opponents have also withdrawn.
Now, a mixed team made up of Project 2013 players and three senior players will head for Moscow on June 20 to play against Russia, Belarus and Uzbekistan.
“I have just been informed that since South Africa and Argentina could not make it to the tournament and have been replaced with Belarus and Uzbekistan, the MHF decided to send a mixed team to the tournament.
“I will be fielding 16 players, some of who played in the recent Australia and New Zealand Tours, and three senior players who will be dropped form the European Tour,” said Project 2013 coach K. Dharmaraj.
Project 2013 played four matches against Australia and lost their first match 9-1, second match 2-1, then drew 5-5 before being whipped again 7-2 in the final friendly.
In New Zealand the Project boys lost 8-0, drew 2-2, lost 4- 2 and won 2-1.
“I am releasing half the Australia-New Zealand Tour side for the Under-18 tournament in Singapore, and the re maining boys as well as other Project Boys in training will travel to Russia for the Four-Nation.
“In the Australia-New Zealand Tours, there were plenty of ups and down because of two main reasons. One was that we had more chances than the opponents in all the matches played, but muffed sitters while the opponents rarely missed their chances when in the semi-circle.
“The second reason is that we do not have good goal keepers, and both of them kept letting in soft goals which placed the team under undue pressure during the Tour,” said Dharmaraj.
And for the Russian tournament, Dharmaraj will work to improve these two areas.
“It is good to get more matches against matured sides, and while Russia should be the favourites, we will play to beat Belarus and Uzbekistan so that we can have another shot at Russia in the final. This time, we will work on the finishing and hopefully the goalkeepers’ will be more confident and not let in easy goals,” said Dharmaraj.