Monday, November 24, 2008

Junior World Cup Qualifier in Seremban

SEREMBAN, Nov 24 (Bernama) — Nine countries will do battle in the 5th Asian Women’s Junior Hockey Championship to be held at the Tan Sri Dr Mohd Said Sports Complex in Seremban II here from Dec 13 till 21.
Malaysian Women’s Hockey Association Raja Puan Sri Noora Ashikin Raja Abdullah said the top three finishers will qualify for next year’s Women’s Junior World Cup that will be held in Boston, United States in June.
“China, Japan, South Korea and India are the top teams but we will do our best to qualify for Boston,” she told reporters at the pre-launch of the tournament here today.
At the pre-launch, Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan handed over the challenge trophy to Noora Ashikin.
In Group A are China, Japan Thailand, Pakistan and hosts Malaysia while Group B is made up of South Korea, India, Singapore and Chinese Taipei.
Malaysia are ranked fifth in Asia behind South Korea, China, Japan and India and 25th in the world.

Youth Olympics test

THE National Juniors will be involved in a four-nation tournament at the Australian Youth Olympics on Jan 14-18, which will give coach K. Rajan a good indication on how his charges have progressed.
Also involved in the tournament to be played in Sydney and which could be Malaysia’s last before the Junior World Cup in June, are former Junior World Cup silver medallists Australia, New Zealand and Britain.
“The team have progressed well by playing in the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League), and although I am happy with their work rate, I am worried about the defenders,” said Rajan.
The Junior World Cup, which Malaysia and Singapore will co-host, will be held on June 7-21 and will involve 20 teams playing in two groups.
The teams which have qualified are defending champions Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England, Poland, Russia, Chile, US and New Zealand.
And with only about seven months left to the main event, the Juniors have a poor record in the MHL having scored just 13 goals and letting in a massive 34 in nine matches.
“We are doing quite well up front, but too many soft goals were let in during the nine matches. I will be working on this until the Youth Olympics where I will get to see how they have progressed,” said Rajan.
There are a few more friendlies lined up with a South Korean University after the Youth Olympics but friendlies are not a good yardstick.
“After playing against the University team, we will head to Europe to play Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. And once the World Cup facilities are ready (by April), the team will start training at the tournament venue, and play any friendly that comes our way there,” added Rajan.
Rajan’s 35-member training squad will be trimmed in January as preparations enter the next stage.