Sunday, October 16, 2016

Women's ACT: Tough for Dharmaraj's charges...

MALAYSIA will utilise the women's Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) in Singapore on Oct 29-Nov 5 as a training base for the World League Round Two.
  Kuala Lumpur will host the World League Round Two on Jan 14-22, and its a chance for coach K. Dharmaraj's charges to make an attempt to play in the World Cup in 2018.
  For the ACT, World No 21 Malaysia will face uphill battles against higher ranked teams China (eighth), Japan (10th), South Korea (ninth) and India (12th).
  Dharmaraj knows the score in the ACT, and even though the statistics looks bad, the Malaysian girls only need to beat one team for a chance to play in the third-fourth medal match.
  "All the teams are much higher ranked than our women and it will be a tough tournament but good in the sense that it will prepare us for the World League Round Two in Singapore," said Dharmaraj.
  The 18 who competed in the Australian Hockey League in Perth and finished seventh out of 10 teams are in the running for the ACT, together with trainee Inspectors Farah Ayuni Yahya and Noor Hasliza Ali.
  "Farah and Hasliza could not go to Peth because they had Inspector training at Pulapol, but have been released to play in the ACT in Singapore.
  "Their presence will inject experience into the team and I am expecting them to give all the higher ranked teams a tough fight," said Dharmaraj.
  The women's ACT was last held in 2013, and Malaysia claimed the bronze by beating China 3-1.
  And for the World League Round Two, in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 14-22, Malaysia will battle for a slot in the World League Semi-finals and a shot at the 2018 World Cup against Ireland, Italy, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Fiji and Wales.
  "With all teams advancing to the quarter-finals of the World League, I believe we have a good chance of advancing, to the World league Semi-finals," said Dharmaraj.
  For the record, the Malaysia women have yet to break past Round Two of the World League.

ACT: Faizal in, injured Baljit out...

THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) will announce their squad for the Asian Champions Trophy only on Monday, but among those who have cemented their spot is troubled striker Faizal Shaari.
  The ACT will be held in Kuantan on Oct 20-30, and Faizal's performance in the Malaysia Hockey League where he played for double champions Terengganu Hockey Team and also the Australian Hockey League (AHL) has earned him a ticket back into the national outfit.
  He was dropped from the national team after failing to show up for training without a valid reason in December last year, and after completing his six months ban, he was placed in the national back-up squad and played in the AHL recently.
  National coach Stephen van Huizen was impressed with his performance and he will play against Pakistan, India, South Korea, China and Japan in Kuantan.
  In Perth, Faizal scored five goals but still, the back-up squad ended 11th among 12 teams in the AHL.
  There was more good news when inspector trainees Razie Rahim and Nabil Fiqri were released by Pulapol to play in the ACT. Razie is the nations top penalty corner flicker while Nabil is a pillar in midfield.
  Both of them did not play in the AHL, and the Malaysian national side finished sixth out of 12 teams.
  But van Huizen will not have Baljit Singh, among his best defenders, as he picked up a hamstring injury while skippering the back-up squad in Perth.
  The others who will surely be named on Monday are goalkeeper S. Kumar, Joel Samuel van Huizen, Fitri Shari, Shukri Mutalib and Shahril Saabah.
  Three juniors were given the chance to play for the national team in the AHL, but only Najmi Farizal and Nik Aiman Rozemi impressed, while former juniors skipper Najib Hassan's form dropped and he will not be on the ACT list. Najib will be released to play in the Sultan of Johor Cup instead.
  The ACT will offer International Hockey Federation (FIH) ranking points for the first time in its Fourth Edition and Malaysia must play in the final to maximise the effect leading to the World League Round Two in Trinidad and Tobago on March 25 to April 2.
  The World League will confirm teams for the 2018 World Cup.