Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dharmaraj's charges meet China for bronze

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian women's hockey team will play China for bronze in the Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) in Donghae, South Korea, Sunday.
  This is a repeat of the 2013 ACT in Kakamigahara, Japan, and back then Malaysia beat China 3-1 to finish third.
  However in Korea, Malaysia lost to China 3-1 in the pool match, but that is not going to stop coach K. Dharmaraj's women from dreaming big again.
  Malaysia are ranked 22nd in the world while China eighth, while in Asia its China number two and Malaysia number five.
  And in Asia, Malaysia are the only active hockey nation which did not qualify for the women's World Cup -- while China, India, South Korea and Japan will be playing in England on July 21-Aug 5.
  "All my players have shown strong commitment in the ACT and even though the rest of the teams are higher ranked than us in Asia as well as in the world, we still gave them a fright or two.
  "And in the battle for bronze, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We played China in the pool and know what t expect from them. It will be a tough game which can go either way," said Dharmaraj.
  He has been coaching the women's team for more than two years and his charges have shown tremendous improvement.
  In Donghae, Malaysia beat Japan 3-2 and lost narrowly to India (3-2) and South Korea (3-1).
  "The young players which I included for the ACT have shown potential, and I believe will be assets in the near future."
  Dharmaraj took a brave stand to select 18-year-olds Nur Maizatulhanim Syafi and Nor Asfarina Isahyifika for the ACT after both impressed him in the recent Asian Hockey 5s Youth Olympics Qualifier in Bangkok, Thailand.
  And they repaid his faith, by blending in well with the seniors in Donghae.
  South Korea and India will play for the gold.