Friday, April 27, 2012


PROJECT 2013 named their final 18 for the Junior Asia Cup  yesterday, with coach K. Dharmaraj keeping his eyes firmly  on the gold medal.
    The tournament, from May 3-13, also doubles up as the  Junior World Cup Qualifier with two seats up for grabs in  Malacca.
    India as hosts are automatic qualifiers, while the seven  other teams will battle for the two finalists spots to make the  grade for New Delhi next year.
    In Group A with Malaysia are South Korea, japan and Iran.  While in Group B are defending champions India, Pakistan,  China and Sri Lanka.
    “I was in two minds whether to name two goalkeepers or an  extra outfield player in the final squad of 18. And after  playing a series of friendlies with Pakistan, South Korea and  Australian County sides, I have decided to opt for two  goalkeepers in case one gets injured,” said Project 2013  coach K. Dharmaraj.
    And that was the toughest decision the coach had to make  on his line-up, as the rest were easy to pick.
    “Against Pakistan and South Korea I played mixed teams  and that is why the results were erratic. However, when I  used the final 18 for the Australian County side, we won 7-1,  9-2 and 7-0 (match stopped at 55th minute after both parties  agreed).
    “The Country team is a matured side which is better than  their Australian Juniors, and it was a big boost in the run-up  to the Junior Asia Cup,” said Dharmaraj.
    Against Korea, the Project team lost the first 2-1 but then  thrashed them 9-1. They lost the third 5-3 but won the final  match 6-5.
    And against Pakistan, they lost the first two 5-3 and 4-3  before winning the third 5-3.
   In the 18 named yesterday, five players who helped  Malaysia win the inaugural Sultan of Johor Cup were  dropped, as seniors like Faizal Saari made their debut.
     Meanwhile, the National Under 16 tournament received a  boost of RM 35,000 in cash and kind from main sponsors  Nestle.
    The tournament will be held on April 27-May 4 at two  venues -- Sungai Petani and Alor Star.
    “Twelve teams have registered for the tournament and we  will be hosting it again next year, as the Malaysian Hockey  Confederation (MHC) have decided to award two consecutive  rights for age-group tournaments,” said Organising Chair man S. Satish Kumar, who is also the Kedah HA deputy  president.
    Kedah are in Group B with runners-up Malacca, Perak,  Negri Sembilan, Penang and Perlis.
    Four-time consecutive champions Kuala Lumpur are in  Group A with Kelantan, Selangor, Pahang, Johor and Tereng ganu,
     “We have set a target of reaching the semi-finals, and I  believe it will be a tough tournament as all states have been  preparing for months for it,” said Satish.
    MALAYSIA: Azrul Faiz (gk), Shahrul Azaddin (gk), Izad  Hakimi, Noor Faez Ibrahim, Kavin Kartik, Shahrul Imran,  Faiz Helmi, Aslam Hanafiah, Fitri Saari, Azri Hassan, Ra madan Rosli, Nor Hizzat Sumantri, Shazril Irwan, Amir  Farid, Firhan Ashaari, Faizal Saari, Syamim Yusof, Deddy  Aryadi.