Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wish rests on flickers...

IT WAS National Junior’s hockey coach K. Dharmaraj’s  birthday yesterday, and he made a wish which his two  penalty corner flickers will have to work doubly hard to  deliver in the Junior World Cup in New Delhi on Dec 6-16.
    Malaysia, the Junior Asia Cup champions, have a fighting  chance to progress into the knock-out stages as they have to  beat at least two teams from Group D which also has South  Africa, New Zealand and England.
    And the coach has made his wish: “When I was young,  every time when my birthday arrives, my mother would say  ’close your eyes and make a wish sincerely and your wish  would come true because the angels are listening, but you  can’t tell others your wish because it’s secret.’
   “I am 44 today (yesterday). I have made my wish, and will  have to wait until Dec 16 (one day after the Junior World Cup  ends) to see its outcome,” said Dharmaraj.
      Defender Zulhairi Hashim and forward Shahril Saabah are  the two penalty corner flickers which Malaysia will rely  heavily upon to score in New Delhi, and yesterday, they were  hard at work with former India international Len Aiyappa.
     “I have been working with these players on an off since the  beginning of the year and there has been tremendous  improvement in their attempts,” said Len at the National  Stadium in Buklit Jalil yesterday.
    Len was India’s best drag flicker until he retired from  national duty following a fallout with the Indian Hockey  Federation in 2006 but has been in touch with the sport by  representing Italian club side Cernusco from 2008-2012.
    Shahril, 19 and from Terengganu, was top-scorer in the  Sultan of Johor Cup, when he scored eight goals in six  matches.
     And Kuala Lumpur-born Zulhairi, 21, scored three goals in  three friendly matches against the Indian juniors in New  Delhi.
    Dharmaraj will name his final squad of 18 on Nov 21: “I  already have confirmed 15 players who played in the Sultan  of Johor Cup, while the remaining 11 in the training pool will  fight for the three spots,” said Dharmaraj.
     Malaysia open accounts against New Zealand (Dec 6), then  South Africa (Dec 8) and finally England (Dec 9). And they  need to finish top-two to qualify for the crossover quar terfinals with Group C opponents.
    And Group C has India, Netherlands, South Korea and  Canada.

Off for Korea stint..

THE Malaysian senior hockey squad will head for South  Korea from Nov 22 to Dec 2 for a five-match friendly with the  Korean national side.
    Coach Paul Revington picked a mixed-team again, as he  included former players like Madzli Ikmar, Ahmad Kaza mirul and Engku Malik to gauge their performance ahead of  next year’s World Cup at the Hague, Netherlands.
    The senior side has played in the Australian 9s and the  Asian Champions Trophy with a mixed side, and won bronze  meals on both occasions.
    And after the team returns, some of them will be included  in the Myanmar Sea Games squad, where hockey will be  played form Dec 13-21.
     For the record, the Malaysian men’s team only lost the gold  medal in the 1973 Sea Games in Singapore.
    In the Sea Games, the men will be up against Myanmar,  Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.
   The women will play against  Thailand, Singapore, In donesia, Cambodia and Myanmar.
   And after winning bronze in the recent Asian Champions  Trophy, the Malaysian women are hot favourites for the gold  as well.
    Hockey is making a comeback into the Sea Games, as it was  last played in 2007 in Korat. Vientiane (2009)  and Jakarta (2011) Sea Games did not feature hockey.
    KOREA TOUR -- Goalkeepers: Roslan Jamaluddin, Kair ulnizam Ibrahim; Defenders: Ahmad Kazamirul, Azlan Mis ron, Baljit Singh, Engku Malik, Madzli Ikmar, Razie Rahim.
    Midfielders: Amirullah Zainol, Jivan Mohan, Shukri Mu talib, Azammi Adabi, Marhan Jalil.
     Forwards: Amir Farid Fuzi, Dedy Ariyadi, Faizal Saari,  Ramadan Rosli, Nabil Fiqri.
     Fixtures: Nov 23 -- Malaysia v South Korea (Game 1); Nov  26: Malaysia v South Korea (Game 2); Nov 28: Malaysia v  South Korea (Game 3); Nov 30: Malaysia v South Korea  (Game 4); Dec 2: Malaysia v South Korea (Game 5).