Monday, May 19, 2014
COACH K. Dharmaraj will name his squad for the World Cup today, with minor changes from the Champions Challenge 1 squad which finished third in Kuantan.
The major boost could be in the form no 1 penalty corner flicker and defender Razie Rahim, if he is give the green light on his dislocated shoulder by the medical team.
And Razie’s right-hand man Baljit Singh is also hoping to be included after being rested for the Azlan Shah Cup and the Champions Challenge 1.
For the record, with the absence of these two stalwart defenders, Malaysia scored 17 goals, but also let in 17 goals in the Champions Challenge 1.
Former international Maninderjit Singh, who has played in two World Cups, two Olympics, two Asian Games, Champions Trophy and Commonwealth Games -- feels Dharmaraj should select the best without fear-or-favour.
“There were some rumblings on the ground during the Champions Challenge 1 that the best were not selected and that demoralised some players. Coach Dharmaraj had to come out strongly in the media to calm matters.
“The coach should select the best, as in the end, he will be the one answerable on the team’s performance at the World Cup,” said Maninderjit who played in the 1998 Utrecth and 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cups.
His Olympic moments were in 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney.
Another player who could make a comeback to the fold is Shahrun Nabil, a former skipper, who was dropped from Champions Challenge 1 because he sent a nasty sms to one of the coaches.
Shahrun’s absence also made a big difference as he is a dependable midfielder.
Dharmaraj had said that there will be minor changes, as he fights for time to name the team: “There could be some changes from the Kuantan squad, but only two or three as time is not with me.”
Malaysia last played in the World Cup back in 2002, and their opening opponents were Australia, who will again be the main opening hurdle for Dharmaraj’s men on May 31.
Australia, world no 1, and world No 13 Malaysia last played in the Azlan Shah Cup final and the score was an unflattering 8-3.
“When we played Australia in the opening match in 2002, the score was 0-0 at half-time. But we let in three soft goals in the second half. My team was at the verge of playing in the semi-finals but lost out the spot to South Korea when we drew 2-2 with Poland.
“My advise to the players who will be heading to the Hague is that to become better players, they must not fear when playing the best in the world. I actually enjoyed playing against opponents like Australia, Germany and Nether lands.
“We were told by our coaches then that ‘Will beats Skills’ and that motivated us to finish 8th among 16 teams in Kuala Lumpur which i believe is a big achievement. I hope the current batch will not give up until the final whistle as every team in the world is beatable just with sheer determination and will-power,” said Maninderjit.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) believe their charges should at least finish 10th among the 12 teams in the Netherlands, but in reality, they will be struggling not to sink to the bottom like a rock.