Friday, July 19, 2013

Juniors off to nine matches in Europe..

THE National juniors will depart for Europe today to play nine Test matches in preparation for the Junior World Cup in New Delhi on Dec 6-15.
    Team manager Mirnawan Nawawi said: “Two matches will be against Poland Under-23, and one against the Polish senior side. Then we will move to Belgium for another three matches with their under-21 side.
   “After that, we travel to England to play another three matches with their under-21 side.”
    Belgium are the emerging power in Europe, as their senior side beat Australia in the final of the Netherlands World League Semi-finals to secure their World Cup berth.
   The International Hockey Federation (FIH) have yet to release the groupings for the Junior World Cup, but the 16 who will feature are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Egypt, France, Germany, India, South Korea, Holland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, Spain and Malaysia.
     For the tour, coach K. Dharmaraj will not have the services of five national players – Faiz Helmi, Izad Hakimi, Fitri Saari, Firhan Ashaari and Meor Azuan – as they are preparing for the Asia Cup in Ipoh.
    “The five will re-join the junior side after completing their Ipoh assignment, and it is actually a blessing, as we get to test some of the bench-warmers in the Europe Tour,” said Mirnawan.
    MALAYSIA: Hazrul Faiz, Hafizzuddin Othman, Kavin Kartik, Zulhairi Hashim, Nor Aqmal Gaffar, Aminuddin Zain, Azri Hassan, Haziq Samsul, Shazril Irwan, Joel Samuel van Huizen, Syamim Yusof, Rashid Baharom, Shahril Saabah, Azwar Rahman, Dangerous Lee, Faridzul Afiq, Redzhwan Jaafar, Azrul Hasbullah.
   Manager: Mirnawan Nawawi; Coach: K. Dharmaraj;   Assistant coaches: K. Gobinathan, Nor Azlan Bakar.

Work to strenghten goalkeepers...

Kumar in action against Australia in the Azlan Shah Cup group match. He was in top form to help Malaysia hold the Aussies 1-1.

ASIA’S best goalkeeper S. Kumar was not in his element  during the World League Semi-finals, where Malaysai let in  20 a whopping 20 goals in six matches.
    But remedial work has already started, as goalkeeper  coach M. Nadarajah wants Kumar back at his best in the Asia  Cup on Aug 24-Sept 1 in Ipoh.
     The worst was a 6-0 drubbing in the hands of Germany in  the quarter-finals, and they came off seven shots at goal in  the first 18 minutes of the match.
   Then there were four in the 4-4 draw against Pakistan, and  four in the 6-4 win against South Africa.
   “The statistics are damning, but taking a closer look, most  of the goals against Malaysia came off rebounds from Kumar,  and even though they looked like soft goals, it is always difficult  to predict where a rebound try will head in the heat of play.
    “However, Kumar is not one to give in easily, and that is  why he started training earlier than the 10-days break given  to the national team after Johor,” said Nadarajah, a former  national goalkeeper himself.
   In the Asia Cup, the stakes are high as only the champions  advance to the World Cup. And with none of the Asian teams  having made the grade on merit, South Korea, India, Pakistan and Japan will be firing on all cylinders.
   “I will intensify penalty corner training for Kumar and  Roslan (Jamaluddin) as India and Pakistan normally do the  damage via drag flicks.
    “It is important for the goalkeepers, as well as the penalty  corner runners, to be at their best in Ipoh, so that there will  not be too much of a pressure for the forwards to keep  chasing for goals,” said Nadarajah.
     And even though the second goalkeeper Roalan did not see  any action in Johor Baru, Nadarajah believes he is just a step  behind Kumar.
    “There is very little that separates Kumar from Roslan and  there is a healthy competition among the duo in training and  this keeps both of them on their toes.
    “I believe, if the goalkeeping department and the back-line  play at a higher level than in Johor Baru, our forwardline will  have no problem winning matches for Malaysia,” said  Nadarajah.
   In the Asia Cup, Malaysia are in Group A with Taiwan,  Pakistan and Japan, while Group B consists of South Korea,  India, Bangladesh and Oman.