Friday, May 30, 2014

German-born Kevin KOed by hamstring...

Kevin Lim (left) pulled a hamstring during the practice match on May 29, 2014, and has been ruled out of the World Cup. Mohamed Izad Hakimi will be his replacement. – S. S. Kanesan / THE STAR

THE Malaysian hockey team is expected to face a torrid defense test against world No 1 Australia in the in the curtain raiser of the World Cup at the Hague, Netherlands, today.
   As hours before the big match, coach K. Dharmaraj had to reshuffle his defence again, as German-born Kevin Lim pulled a hamstring and has been ruled out for the tournament.
   Izat Hakimi Jamaluddin is being flown in as a replacement and will only arrive today morning, and jet-lag could pose a big problem when he is paired with Razie Rahim in the opener.
   “Kevin pulled a hamstring during our last training match against a Dutch club-side (Friday), and he has been ruled out of the tournament.
   “I still consider it as a lucky break as we had time to fly in a replacement at the 11th hour and I picked Izat over Ahmad Kazamirul and Baljit Singh.
   “I had three choices, Kazamirul is also a flicker but we have enough flickers (for penalty corners) in the team while Baljit has been on and off injuries and I was afraid he will get injured again if he pushes himself in the World Cup.
    “As for Izat, he played in the Azlan Shah Cup as well as the Champions Challenge 1 but unfortunately when the World Cup selection was done, he was down with viral fever and hospitalised.
    “But Izat has recovered now, and I believe he is the best choice among the three options I had as replacement,” said Dharmaraj.
   Izat is the younger brother of No 1 goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin, who is the only surviving member of the 2002 World Cup in the Malaysian side at the Hague.
    The other set of brothers are Faizal and Fitri Saari.
   As for the opening match against Australia who Malaysia lost 8-3 to in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup, Dharmaraj will rely on counter attacks.
   “It would be suicidal to play an open game against Australia, and we hope to do the damage on counter attacks.
   “Also the defenders, especially (goalkeeper) S. Kumar, will have to be at their best to defend Australia’s penalty corners for the team to post a good result,” said Dharmaraj.
   For the record, Kumar was not between the posts when Malaysia lost 8-3, but juniors goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman.
  MALAYSIA’S World Cup Fixtures (Malaysian time) -- Today: v Australia (4.30pm); June 2: v Belgium (11.30pm); June  5: v England (7pm); June 7: v India (8.30pm); June 9: v Spain  (8.30pm).