Friday, November 4, 2011

Kookaburra Test for Malaysia

PIC: Australian coach Paul Gaudoin.

MALAYSIA will open their Sultan of Johor Cup against early favourites Australia at the Taman Daya Stadium today.

And the fact that Project 2013 received a whipping on their Tour of Australia recently should cause for some concerns in the opening match.
In a four-match series in Australia in June, Malaysia received an opening drubbing of 9-1 before closing in to a 2-1 defeat in the second and holding the Aussies to a 5-5 draw in the third.
However, Australia again stamped their mark in the final friendly with a 5-2 win.
Coach Paul Gaudoin said they are looking forward to a winning start in the inaugural tournament which will also feature Pakistan, India, South Korea and New Zealand.
“We look forward to a winning start and I must reiterate that it is going to be tough as Malaysia are a much improved side with some very skilful players, as compared to the four friendlies we played,” said the coach who played in the 1993 Junior World Cup.
Australia are not the same side that played in the friendlies as missing from the line-up are six players, and out of the 18 listed for Johor, only five are eligible to play in the 2013 Junior World Cup.
“It is going to be a wonderful week as far as Australia is concerned and I must congratulate the hosts for coming up for such a tournament that will no double help lift the standard of junior hockey both at Asian and Oceania levels.”
On the Malaysian front. coach K. Dharmaraj is looking for more than just wins in the tournament.
“Frankly speaking, playing in this tournament will show how much we have progressed in our preparations for the Junior Asia Cup that will serve as a Qualifier for the 2013 Junior World Cup,” said Dharmaraj.
“And it is the likes of India, Pakistan and South Korea that we have to get a psychological advantage over before the Asian qualifiers that will be held in Malacca next May. Winning against these teams will give us the boost.
“So let us take it one match at a time starting with Australia in the opening match. The Australians, I must admit, are not the same team as we played in June, but nonetheless their physical attributes and robust style of hockey will no doubt pose problems to my players.”
TODAY: South Korea v India (4pm), New Zealand v Pakistan (6pm), Australia v Malaysia (8pm).
SUNDAY: South Korea v Pakistan (4pm), Australia v India (6pm), Malaysia v New Zealand (8pm).
TUESDAY: New Zealand v Australia (4pm), Malaysia v South Korea (6pm), Pakistan v India (8pm).
WEDNESDAY: South Korea v Australia (4pm), India v New Zealand (6pm), Pakistan v Malaysia (8pm).
FRIDAY: Australia v Pakistan (4pm), New Zealand v South Korea (6pm), India v Malaysia (8pm).

Malaysia to play without top strikers

MALAYSIA will be without two of their key strikers when they take on the world's best junior teams in the inaugural Sultan of Johor Cup starting tomorrow at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru.
Faizal Saari, the top scorer in the Malaysia Hockey League with 19 goals, and Firhan Ashaari (pic), will train with the senior squad for the Champions Challenge I while their teammates battle in Johor.
There was a keen tussle for the players with Project 2013 coach K. Dharmaraj of the opinion that they should play in Johor, while senior coach Tai Beng Hai did not want his budding strikers to risk injury and fatigue.
In the end, it was decided that the duo should skip Johor and concentrate on training for South Africa. Their names were missing from the final list released by Dharmaraj yesterday.
The tournament will see Malaysia hard-pressed to achieve their second place target as they have to play India, Pakistan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
However, Malaysia are no longer a weak side as they have been on a string of tours preparing for next year's Junior Asia Cup in Malacca, which is also a Junior World Cup Qualifier.
Dharmaraj's team have been to Australia, New Zealand, England, Germany and Spain. Some of his players played in the Four Nation Invitational in Russia, while those who are under 18, played and won the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Under-18 Tournament in Singapore.
Also, Faiz Helmi and Amir Farid played in the Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos, Inner Mongolia.
"We have done all the necessary groundwork systematically and even though the target is a steep final appearance, my players are game for the challenge," said Dharmaraj.
On Wednesday, Malaysia beat New Zealand 3-1 in a friendly.
THE SQUAD: Hazrul Faiz (GK), Hafizuddin Othman (GK), Noor Faeez Ibrahim (capt), Norhizzat Sumantri, Faiz Helmi, Shazrul Imran, Shazril Irwan, Fitri Saari, Syamim Yusof, Aamir Farid, Fariq Saadon, Ramadhan Rosli, Izad Hakimi, Rashid Baharom, Hafiq Zainol, Zulhairi Hashim, Mohamed Azri, Kavin Khartik; Manager: Mirnawan Nawawi; Coach: K. Dharmaraj; Assistant Coaches: K. Gobinathan, Nor Azlan Bakar.