Friday, July 13, 2018

Kirandeep closing in on Asian Games dream

By Saiful Affendy Sapran

KUALA LUMPUR: Promising player Kirandeep Kaur is ready to fight for a slot in the Jakarta Asian Games, even though she konws it will not be easy.
  She will only turn 15 on July 22, but showed promise at the Hockey Series Open in Singapore earlier in the month, and even scored a goal in the final where Malaysia hammered Thailand 6-0.
  National women's coach K. Dharmaraj is willing to give her a break as he had said that he might include her in the Australia Tour starting on July 21.
  It will be the coaches' final selection for the Asian Games.
  "If I am selected for the Australian Tour it would be a dream come true because I will get closer to playing in the Asian Games.
  "But even if I am not selected this time, I will keep trying for future tournaments."
  Kirandeep said the experience of playing in Singapore was an eye-opener, even though she was nervous during the early matches.
  "I was nervous at the beginning and so could not score any goals until I settled down in the final match against Thailand. That goal really means much to me, and my hockey career."
  Dharmaraj had made an out-of-the-box selection when he named a 14-year-old for the Singapore tournament, but his gamble paid off and now, Kirandeep might even help Malaysia in the Asian Games.

Malaysia to host, but tougher route..

KUALA LUMPUR: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) Friday announced that Malaysia has won the bid to host the Hockey Series Finals at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on April 23-May 1.
  This opens another door for Malaysia to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but its a tougher route compared to winning the Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta.
  For, Malaysia must play in the final of the Hockey Series Final to qualify for the Olympic Qualification -- a stage that decides the last six or seven slots, depending on if Japan wins the Asian Games gold.
  "The Asian Games gold medal will remain our primary target as it's also a Podium Programme requirement and we have been planning for it for a long time.
  "But still, hosting the Hockey Series Finals opens another 'in case' door for us and hosting it has many benefits," said Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen.
  The FIH wrote: "Hockey Series Finals marks the return of FIH competition to the passionate hockey nation for the first time since the Men’s Champions Challenge in 2014.
  "With vast experience in hosting major international events at some of the world’s best hockey stadiums, including the annual Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and Sultan of Johor Cup, the Malaysian Hockey Confederation know how to deliver successful global events."
  van Huizens said: "Playing at Bukit Jalil will give us an added confidence, as well as not having to worry about food and weather accalimatation."
  At the Asian Games, Malaysia's chances all depend on the grouping, which the Asian Hockey Federation have yet to release.
  In the men's tournament, the qualifiers are hosts Indonesia, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Malaysia, China, Japan, Oman, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Taiwan.
  There are only 10 teams in the women's event and they are hosts Indonesia, South Korea, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Kazakhstan.