PIC: Joel van Huizen
Pic: Kavin Kartik (right)
TAMPIN lad G. Kavin Kartik, 21, will have the distinction of being only the second Malaysian to play in two Junior World Cups, when coach K. Dharmaraj named his final 18 for the New Delhi tournament from Dec 6-15.
The first was defender M. Devendran who played in the 1985 Vancouver and 1989 Ipoh Junior World Cups.
And history ran three-deep in the Van Huizen family when Joel Samuel was also selected to play for the country for the first time.
Joel’s grandfather Lawrence and father Stephen had also represented the nation in various tournaments, including the Olympics.
“Kavin will be a valuable asset as he played in the 2009 World Cup, and knows how to handle match pressure in a major junior event.
“As for Joel, he has never played in any tournament for the country, but he has worked hard during the recent tours and friendlies to warrant a call-up,” said juniors coach K. Dharmaraj.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) has revised the top-four, to a top-six target for the juniors, which is within their grasp, provided they do not bungle in the group stage.
Malaysia are in Group D with New Zealand, England and South Africa.
“I’m taking the target as a challenge for me and my players, however, right now, I am in full planning to win our first match against New Zealand (Dec 6) as a win would almost assure us a place in the quarter-finals, as we would have two more matched against South Africa (Dec 8) and England (Dec 9) to collect at least three points or more for the knock-out stage,” said Dharmaraj.
For the record, New Zealand finished fourth in the 2009 Junior World Cup in Johor Baru, while Malaysia ended 12th in the 20-team tournament when they were beaten 3-2 by Belgium in the classification match.
The pillars of the squad would be skipper Fitri Saari, Firhan Ashaari, Faiz Helmi Jali, Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Meor Azuan and Rashid Baharom as they have had the experience of playing at the senior level.
The team will leave for New Delhi on Dec 1 and will play a friendly against Germany on Dec 3 as the final tune-up.
MALAYSIA -- Hazrul Faiz Ahmad Sobri (goalkeeper), Hafizuddin Othman (goalkeeper), Firhan Ashaari, Fitri Saari (captain), Rashid Baharom, G. Kavin Kartik, Syamim Yusof, Shazril Irwan Nazli, Meor Azuan, Haziq Samsul, Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Azri Hassan, Zulhairi Hashim, Faiz Helmi Jali, Shahril Saabah, Joel Samuel van Huizen, Nor Aqmal Abdul Ghaffar, Hafiz Zainol.