Saturday, April 28, 2012

India claim favourites tag

INDIA have claimed the favourites tag, as they attempt a  hat-trick of Junior Asia Cup titles in Malacca from May 3- 13.
    The 2013 Junior World Cup hosts, who are automatic  qualifiers, won the last two editions in Karachi 2004 and  Chennai 2008 respectively, and will arrive in Malacca to day.
     India will be captained by striker Akashdeep Singh, and if  they advance to the final, the bronze medallists will also book  a spot in the Junior World Cup.
    Malaysia are in Group A with South Korea, Japan and Iran,  while in Group B are India, Pakistan, China and Sri Lanka.
    In the Sultan of Johor Cup, where Malaysia became  champions, India finished fourth but they have listed 11 new  players for Malacca.
    Both their goalkeepers are new, as well as the captain. The  seven who played in Johor are Amit Rohidas, Pardeep Mor, P.  Thimmanna, Satbir Singh, M. Gnasekar, Sukhdev Singh and  Mylaram Sampath.
    “India have made a big change in their team after the  Sultan of Johor Cup and it looks like their match against  Pakistan would be the highlight of Group B as both of them  fight for the top spot,” said Project 2013 coach K. Dharmaraj.
    If Malaysia meet India in the semi-finals, Dharmaraj’s boys  will have two lives. This is because if India beats Malaysia, the  bronze medal will carry its weight in gold.
    “Out first match is against Iran, and we need to score as  many goals as possible but I would not pressure my players by  setting too high a target. The goals would come, that is for  sure,” said Dharmaraj.
   To date, six team have sent in their team lists while Sri  Lanka have been playing hard to get.
    The Asian Hockey Confederation (AHF) have been in  contact with officials in Sri Lanka who promised a team list,  but until yesterday, it was still not available.
    The Lankans have also made a request to stay in a  dormitory or hostel and organsiers in Malacca are having a  tough time trying to accommodate them.
   FIXTURES: May 3 (Group A): Korea v Japan, Malaysia v  Iran.
   May 4 (Group B): Pakistan v China, India v Sri Lanka.
   May 5 (Group A): Japan v Iran, Malaysia v Korea.
   May 6: China v Sri Lanka (Group B); India vs Pakistan  (Group B); Korea v Iran (Group A).
   May 7: China v India (Group B); Pakistan v Sri Lanka (Group  B); Japan v Malaysia (Group A).