Thursday, October 1, 2015

Junior Asia Cup: Great Wall the first hurdle...

FORMER skipper Mirnawan Nawawi has been named as ambassador for Malacca hockey during the unveiling of new jerseys for "Malacca The Hurricanes". Mirnawan, born in Malacca, is three-time Olympian who played in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.
  Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal also attended the function to honour the former skipper fondly known as The 'Boss'.
  Mirnawan also played in three Asian Games -- Beijing 1990, Hiroshima 1994 and Bangkok 1998. He was also in the thick of action in the KL Champions Trophy in 2007, and two World Cup in Utrecht 1998 and Kuala Lumpur 2012.

MALAYSIA will open their campaign against China in the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan, Pahang, from Nov 14-22.
  The tournament offers four tickets to the Junior World Cup in India next year. And with India qualifying as hosts, defending champions Malaysia must play in the semi-finals to book their spot.
  In Group A with China, Japan and India -- Malaysia must not fumble in their opening match to keep the fire burning.
  Group B looke like an open book, as South Korea and Pakistan will be the front-runners, while Oman and Bangladesh playing catch-up.
  Coach Arul Selvaraj and his boys will have a tough time emulating the 2012 feat, which saw Malaysia snatch the gold in Malacca and went on to finish fourth in the Junior World Cup.
  Then, Malaysia were the highest ranked Asian team in the Junior World Cup as South Korea finished eighth, Pakistan ninth and India tenth.
  After China, Malaysia lock horns with tournament favourites India on Nov 15, followed by Japan on Nov 17. 
  "We have two tournaments starting with the Sultan of Johor Cup (Oct 11-18) followed by the Junior Asia Cup and the priority is the latter.
  "Out focus remains with the Asia Cup where we will first play to be in the semi-finals to qualify for the World Cup, and then make a dash to defend our title," said Arul.
  The SOJC will see Malaysia battle against two-time champions India, Australia, Pakistan, Britain and Argentina.
  "It (SOJC) will give us an insight into the strength of India and Pakistan ahead of the Junior Asia Cup," said Arul.
  India will be the team to beat in Group A, while Pakistan could be Malaysia's opponents in the semi-finals.
  India's budding striker Arman Qureshi had this to say about the SOJC: "The team is very confident as we aim to retain the title this time around too. This has made us even more positive of playing the matches ahead.
  "During our practice sessions, we have made good progress and aim for a better penalty corner conversion rate. We want to make our attack even stronger in the upcoming matches and look forward to carry out our game strategies firmly to claim the title.”
  India open against Pakistan in the SOJC.