Sunday, November 13, 2016
Malaysian Tigress undergo uphill training to prepare for the Kiwi Test, as well as the World League Round Two. Pic: Goh Thean Howe
THE Malaysian Tigress will play New Zealand in a Five-Test series next month, and coach K. Dharmaraj is not afraid of being thrashed out of shape.
The series was agreed upon after Malaysia played New Zealand Futures (their development squad) in the recent Australian Hockey League (AHL).
World No 5 New Zealand will host No 21 Malaysia at Stratford on Dec 12-18, and the numbers speak for themselves.
The Kiwi women lost 2-1 to Germany in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics bronze battle, while Malaysian women have yet to play in any Olympics.
In Rio, New Zealand beat Asian 'giants' South Korea 4-1 and China 3-0.
For the record, Asian women lined up at the bottom of the Rio de Janeiro heap with China ninth, Japan 10th, South Korea 11th and India
last on 12th.
Suicide or Kamikaze, came to mind when this Test series were announced.
"I know the statistics look bad and there is a high probability of my girls being hammered in this Test, but that's not my main concern and I am willing to face that as reality.
"My aim is to make my charges lose their fear of playing higher ranked teams, before I field them for the World League (Round Two) in Kuala Lumpur," said Dharmaraj.
And Dharmaraj will be aiming for one upset, and one draw in the Test.
"We were the underdogs in the recent AHL and also the Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) and even though we did well not to lose by high margins against better teams, the collapse during crucial matches pulled us to the bottom of the pool."
In the AHL, the Malaysian girls had a chance to finish top-four, but collapsed when it mattered most. And in the ACT, they upset Japan 2-0 in the last pool match. India won the title, but Malaysia only lost 2-0 to them in the pool.
"Close, very close. But the tendency to collapse inside five minutes is what is bogging down the team. In the AHL, we lost one crucial match in three minutes when three goals were scored and the same happened against South Korea in the ACT where three goals were scored by Korea in three minutes to win 5-2.
"The 'Have No Fear' training has started and I hope to see my charges pull off one upset in New Zealand and even if they get thrashed in the other four matches I will be the happiest man in the world," said Dharmaraj.
In the World League in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 14-22, Malaysia will be up against ranked teams Italy and Ireland as well as Round One qualifiers Fiji, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Thailand and Wales.
For the record, Malaysia has never broken the Round Two glass ceiling.