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.