Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sufi back in the fold...

NATIONAL Juniors coach Arul Selvaraj yesterday named 19 players for the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan in Nov 14-22.
  The extra player will be dropped after a friendly match against the national seniors on Nov 9.
  "We dropped two players from the Sultan of Johor Cup (SOJC) due to injuries, and included two players who were earlier on the crock list. I have named one extra player for the 'just in case' scenario and we will have the final list after a game with the seniors," said Arul.
  Hamstring injuries floored Sufi Ismat and Rafidzul Ezry just before the SOJC, but they have recovered for the Asia Cup. Arul included Ahmad Ashraf as the 19th, while Nor Azrul Rahman and Aminuddin Zain were the only casualties from the SOJC team.
  The target is to play in the semi-finals and qualify for the Junior World Cup in India next December.
  The International Hockey Federation (FIH) have reserved four slots for Asia, including hosts India, so Malaysia must play in the semi-final to grab one of the three available places.
  Malaysia are in Group A with India, China and Japan, while in Group B are South Korea, Pakistan, Oman and Bangladesh.
  The group stages will be for placing while one win in the quarter-finals, where all eight teams qualify, will cement a place in the Junior World Cup.
  "The format looks easy, but only if we finish among the top-two in Group A for an easier last-eight playoff. That has been drilled into the boys, and they are clear about the mission," said Arul.
  Malaysia won bronze in the SOJC, where they lost 2-1 to India.
  "India will be our toughest opponents in Group A, and after playing with them in the SOJC, we have our plans to tackle them in Kuantan," said Arul.
  India only lost to two matches to Britain in the SOJC, 3-2 in the pool and after a 2-2 draw, lost the final 4-3 on penalty shoot out.
  "Fitness has been the focus after SOJC, and I am proud to say that the team are at their best leading to the tournament and we should reach our target."
  Malaysia are the Junior Asia Cup defending champions and the highest ranked team in Kuantan after finishing fourth in the last Junior World Cup, where South Korea ended eighth, Pakistan ninth, and India 10th.
  NATIONAL Juniors: Ridzwan Azmi (Gk), Adi Fazri Rahim (Gk), Najib Abu Hassan (capt), Nik Aiman, Ashran Hamsani, Meor Azuan, Haziq Samsul, Firdaus Omar, Khaliq Hamirin, Norsyafiq Sumantri, Amirol Aideed, Shahril Saabah, Zulpidaus Mizun, Syed Syafiq, Azwar Rahman, Rafizul Ezry, Najmi Farizal, Ahmad Ashraf, Sufi Ismat.
  Coach: Arul Selvaraj; Asst Coaches: Jivan Mohan and Amin Rahim; Manager: Mirnawan Nawawi.