Friday, October 9, 2015

Najib sets his mind on gold

NATIONAL Juniors skipper Najib Hassan is green behind the ears, but will be leading players who are much more experienced, in the Fifth Edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup.
  The SOJC starts on Sunday at the Taman Daya Stadium, and Najib will lead his mates into battle with two-time champions India, silver medallists Britain, Australia, Argentina and Pakistan.
  The 20-year-old is least bothered with the high standard of play he will be facing, and he has set his mind on lifting the SOJC trophy when the dust settles.
  Najib, who played for Tenaga Nasional in the Premier Division, said: "We have the ability to emerge as champions and this is what the team will strive to achieve."
  Malaysia finished fifth last year, but the skipper believes: "We are better prepared this year as my mates have been giving their best in training.
  "We hope to translate what we have learnt during training into a strong and consistent performance throughout the tournament."
  Coach Arul Selvaraj has three players who have played at the senior World Cup, Junior World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games but picked Najib for his leadership qualities.
  Striker Shahril Saabah, 21, is tht ace in the pack as he has played in the senior World Cup, Asian and Commonwealth Games.
  Midfielder Meor Azuan has seen action in the Commonwealth and Asian Games, while striker Haziq Samsul has played in the Junior World Cup and Commonwealth Games.
  Najib picked India and Australia as the teams to beat in Johor Baru.
   "Last year we lost to Britain (3-2) but will play to turn the tables on them in our opening match on Sunday" added Najib.
   "Britain of last season comprised of players that were almost 21 while for many of us it was our first international tournament.
   "So, we hope that hockey fans will fill the stadium and back the team throughout the tournament as we aim to give our best."
   The Perak-born said that while the Junior Asas Cup was their main target this year, a good finish at the SOJC will provide the perfect tonic to defend their Asian title and qualify for the World Cup in style.
   FIXTURES: Sunday -- Argentina v Australia (4.35pm), India v Pakistan (6.30pm), Malaysia v Britain (8.35pm).
  Oct 12: Australia v Pakistan (4.35pm), Britain v India (6.30pm), Malaysia v Argentina (8.35pm).
  Oct 13: REST DAY.
  Oct 14: Britain v Pakistan (4.35pm), Argentina v India (6.30pm), Malaysia v Australia (8.35pm).
  Oct 15: Pakistan v Argentina (4.35pm), Britain v Australia (6.30pm), Malaysia v India (8.35pm).
  Oct 16: REST DAY
  Oct 17: Argentina v Britain (4.35pm), Australia v India (6.30pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (8.35pm).
  Oct 18: Final and placing matches.