NATIONAL youth coach K. Dharmaraj wants his team to play without fear in the Sultan of Johor Cup which starts on Sunday in Johor Baru.
Malaysia, the defending champions, are among the most improved junior teams in the world and foreign coaches are now keeping an eye on Dharmaraj's boys following their win in the Junior Asia Cup in May.
Dharmaraj was given the job to mould the nation's best junior players into a formidable unit and the former international has done just that but his team still need to work on their weaknesses before next year's Junior World Cup in New Delhi.
"We have conquered Asia and the next step is to become among the best in the world," said Dharmaraj yesterday.
"We must not aim low nor give too much respect to our rivals. We must think big and only then can we make an impression."
Five-time world champions Germany, Australia, New Zealand, India and Pakistan make up the six-team tournament.
Except for the Shaari brothers -- Faizal and Fitri -- together with Faiz Helmi, who have been selected for a senior team assignment, Dharmaraj will field the same squad who won the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca.
Among the core players are Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi, Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Mohd Syamim Mohd Yusof, Mohd Azri Hassan, Mohd Firhan Ashaari, Mohd Ramadan Rosli, Mohd Noor Faeez Ibrahim, Norhizzat Sumantri and Shazril Irwan Nazli.
Dharmaraj will name his 18-member squad after a friendly against New Zealand in Johor Baru tomorrow. "No doubt, national coach Paul Revington's decision to drop nine juniors from the Champions Challenge I will strengthen my team, but the Saari brothers and Faiz are our core players and their absences will be felt."
Malaysia play Germany in their opening match on Sunday.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
STRONG BELIEF: Coach includes four former internationals in squad for Argentina assignmentBy Ajitpal Singh
FOUR former internationals -- Chua Boon Huat (pic), Ismail Abu, Jivan Mohan and Muhd Amerullah Abdul Aziz -- have been included in the 18-member national hockey squad for the Champions Challenge 1 on Nov 24-Dec 2 in Argentina.
National coach Paul Revington believes the quartet will make a difference to his team, drawn in Group A with South Korea, Poland and Canada.
"As I have stated from the first day, my aim is to make Malaysia a winning side. I had the best players for three weeks in training and those selected adapted well to my system," said Revington in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
"I hope everyone will play to their strengths in Argentina and hopefully, they can make progress after each match."
Boon Huat and Ismail were regulars before the duo were axed by former coach Tai Beng Hai while Jivan opted out last year to complete a 10-month training course at the Police Training Centre (Pulapol).
As for Amerullah, the 26-year-old played in one international tournament under Beng Hai.
"Being an ex-international does not mean one can never return for national duty.
"They have proven themselves in competitions and in training and I have no regrets including them as I believe they can play a major role.
"In Argentina, we have to aim towards winning matches, show consistency and above all have the confidence that we have a team capable of taking on the best," Revington added.
Although Revington chose to be diplomatic in regard to the quartet's inclusion, he may have had no choice as some of his trainees are needed for the Sultan of Johor Cup (a junior event), which starts on Sunday.
He called up 12 players from the Sultan of Johor Cup squad for selection but only three -- the Saari brothers, Faizal, and Fitri, and Faiz Helmi Jali -- were named for the Argentina assignment. Faizal and Fitri are regular internationals while Faiz will be making his senior debut in Argentina.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) made it clear to Revington, before he penned his contract in August, that it wants to see Malaysia qualify for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Although Revington has been given a tough task, critics should not judge him too early if Malaysia fail in the Champions Challenge I as it is his first international assignment as coach.
Revington was strict in training as those who did not report on time were sent home.
He named two captains -- Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Abdul Jalil and Shahrun Nabil for the tournament.
The squad: S. Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin, Azlan Misron, Baljit Singh, Chua Boon Huat, Faiz Helmi Jali, Faizal Saari, Ismail Abu, Jivan Mohan,, Mohd Shukri Mutalib, Mohd Fitri Saari, Mohd Shahrun Nabil Abdullah (capt), Mohd Amin Rahim, Mohd Amerullah Abdul Aziz, Marhan Mohd Jalil, Razie Rahim (vice-capt), Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Abdul Jalil (capt).