Kirandeep Kaur (left) playing against boys at the recent Matador HC tournament at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian women's coach K.Dharmaraj wants nothing but gold in the Hockey Series Open starting in Singapore today. Malaysia, at world n 22, will open accounts against Indonesia (no ranking) while the other teams are Hong Kong (world no 43), Kazakhstan (34th), Thailand (28th) and Singapore (35th). Not one to boast without a reason, Dharmaraj cautioned his charges to be confident, but at the same time respect their opponents. "We are the highest ranked team here and are expected to win the tournament even though the top-two qualify for the next round," said Dharmaraj. "But then again, we need to respect every team as overconfidence can cause many problems." Hockey Series Open is a rebranding exercse by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and was known as World League Round One. It serves an an Olympic qualifier. For the record, Malaysia hosted the World League Round Two last year and won a silver medal against much higher ranked teams. And on Indonesia: "Our opening match will be very interesting as Indonesia is coached by Malaysian (M.) Mahendran. Although they are not ranked by the FIH, we will not underestimate them." Dharmaraj also included 15-year-old Kirandeep Kaur in the squad, a player who will earn her first international cap. "Kiran proved during training she is no pushover even though she is only 15, and she is not here for a holiday. She can expect to be utilised when a game situation warrants," said Dharmaraj. Whatever the outcome in Singapore, Kirandeep has made history for herself as becoming the youngest player to be selected for Malaysia's senior side.
Sports Journalist with the New Straits Times since 1994.
My main beat is field hockey, so this blog will have stories that I have written for the NST, as well as hockey news from around the globe. There will be regular updates. I was also the Secretary General of the National Press Club, Malaysia for three terms (six years).