Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dharmaraj picks his men..

COACH K. Dharmaraj will be taking a big risk by fielding two defenders who will be paired for the first time in the pinnacle of hockey at the Hague, Netherlands beginning May 31.
   German-born Kevin Lim and Razie Rahim's combination will be tested for the first time together, and that too in the World Cup. Kevin earned his first caps for Malaysia in the Champions Challenge 1 (CC1) in Kuantan, where Razie did not play because of injury.
   And they will be tested against World No 1 Australia in the first day of the tournament itself, followed by another grueling test against in-form world no 5 Belgium (June 2). The other teams in Malaysia's Group A are world no 4 England (June 5), world no 8 India (June 7) and world no 10 Spain (June 9).
   Reigning Olympic champions Germany, Holland New Zealand, South Korea, Argentina and South Africa are drawn in Group B.
    Experienced defender Baljit Singh, who was Razie's right-hand-man in many previous tournaments, as well as the World League Qualifier where Malaysia won the ticket to the Haque -- was left out in the cold.
   Malaysia last played in the 2002 World Cup, and 12 years later the only player left standing from that eara is goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin while the rest will make their debut.
   Dharmaraj made five changes from the bronze winning side in the Champions Challenge, and former skipper Shahrun Nabil made an entry after being sidelined in two major tournaments this year -- the CC1 and the Azlan Shah Cup where Malaysia won silver.
   The other two players named for the World Cup are midfielder  Ramadan Rosli and forward Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi.
  The five players dropped from the Champions Challenge 1 squad are goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman, defenders Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin and Ahmad Kazamirul; midfielder Azri Hassan and forward Rashid Baharom.
    Dharmaraj said that he named team based on current form and experience and it is the best team to put up a strong challenge in the World Cup.
   “The players are in high spirit and they have vowed to give their best in the World Cup,” said Dharmaraj.
    “The return of Razie, will definitely beef up our defense as he is the best defender in the country. We are also banking on him to deliver goals from his penalty corner drag flicks.
   “I have included Roslan, Shahrun and Hafifi as they are experience players, who have shown their ability in training,” said Dharmaraj.
   “Our rankings improved by one rung to 12 in the world after we won the bronze in the Champions Challenge 1. And we will be going to the World Cup after a lapse of 12 years to further improve our world rankings,” said Dharmaraj, who took over as the national chief coach from South Africa’s Paul Revington in January.
  “The MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) have a set a target for the national team to finish top 10 in the World Cup but we should strive to do much better to further improve our rankings,” said Dharmaraj.
   World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin.
Defenders: Azlan Misron (captain), Razie Rahim, Kevin Lim, Faiz Helmi, Sukri Mutalib.
Midfielders: Fitri Saari, Marhan Jalil, Shahrun Nabil, Ramadan Rosli, Nabil Fiqri Noor.
Forwards: Ismail Abu, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Faizal Saari, Firhan Ashaari, Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi, Shahril Saabah.

Team manager: George Koshy
Stand in manager: Nor Azlan Bakar
Chief coach: K. Dharmaraj
Assistant coach: K. Gobinathan
Team doctor: Razana Abdul Raffar
Physiotherapist: Yeo In-seung

Hush-Hush for 1more day...

 NOTE: Spot on prediction
The possible five names that might be included in the World Cup squad today are Razie Rahim, goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin, Shahrun Nabil, Hafifi Hafiz and Mohamed Ramadhan Rosli.

  WORLD CUP: Protocol forces Dharmaraj to delay naming his squad

COACH K. Dharmaraj was willing to name his final 18 for the World Cup yesterday, but protocol saw him keep his lips sealed.
All he was willing to say there will be five changes from the side that played in the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan.
"I can name my final 18 right now, but have been told to keep it for another day.
"However, I can reveal that there will be five changes from the team that won bronze in Kuantan," said Dharmaraj during a cheque presentation ceremony by Sime Darby Foundation in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Sime Darby came in to the tune of RM4 million to help fund men's and women's hockey development until the 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympics.
The possible five names that might be included in the World Cup squad today are Razie Rahim, goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin, Shahrun Nabil, Hafifi Hafiz and Mohamed Ramadhan Rosli.
Sime Darby Foundation chief executive officer Yatela Zainal Abidin said: "The RM4 million sponsorship is for a two-year period and will, among others, facilitate the senior men's and women's team participation in various local and foreign tournaments. It will include subsidising the team's tickets, accommodation, meals and team's attire."
Yesterday the World Cup T-shirt was unveiled with the Sime Darby logo prominently displayed at the front.
"We are looking for a good finish in the World Cup, as we hope to elevate our current 13th position to at least 10th in the world," said Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Malaysia are in Group A with World No 1 Australia, Belgium, England, Spain and India.
Tengku Abdullah thanked Sime Darby for its contribution: "It will go a long way in helping hockey and I am sure after this there will no longer be any issues about late payments of salaries (to coaches)."
Coach Dharmaraj had to resort to almost quitting the team on the eve of the World Cup, for the MHC to agree to pay him five months of backdated salary as well as a better contract.
On another note, Tengku Abdullah said let the best man win in the FA of Malaysia elections this weekend.
"Many quarters have asked if I will leave hockey after winning the FAM elections, and my answer is let me cross the bridge first before making a statement.
"However, suffice to say I will not leave hockey without finding a capable replacement as the sport is on its upward trend and needs a strong hand to take it to the next level."
The national players also received a windfall as those who played in the World League semi-finals received RM5,000 while Junior World Cup players were RM10,000 richer.