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Saturday September 21, 2013 MYT 6:09:00 PM
Saturday September 21, 2013 MYT 6:12:29 PM
by aftar singh
Malaysia playing India in a friendly on Friday where Malaysia lost 2-1. The National Juniors have been warned to be at their best or face getting cut from the squad.
JOHOR BARU: Coach K. Dharmaraj has warned his Nationals Juniors not to take their places in the team for granted.
He will be keeping a close watch on all the players when Malaysia compete in the Sultan of Johor Cup, which begins Sunday at the Taman Daya Stadium. The tournament is the last assignment for the Malaysians before the Junior World Cup in New Delhi in December.
“Those who fail to live up to my expectations will be dropped as I have other reliable players to replace them. I want committed and dedicated players who can give more than 100% in Johor Baru,” said Dharmaraj, who has been coach of the squad since 2010.
Dharmaraj guided the National Juniors to win the inaugural six-nation Sultan of Johor Cup in 2011. The team, however, were wooden spoonists in last year’s tournament.
Malaysia will open their campaign against Argentina, the 2005 Junior World Cup champions, on Sunday.
“It is going to be tough against Argentina as they play a fast attacking game. It will be good to see how well my players handle the Argentinians,” said Dharmaraj.
Besides Malaysia and Argentina, the other competing teams are England, Pakistan, India and South Korea.
Dharmaraj is also eager to see how Malaysia measure up against England and Pakistan. All three are in the same group for the Junior World Cup. South Africa are the other team in the group.
“I doubt England and Pakistan will show their real strength here. But it is important that we get a good result against them to boost our confidence for the Junior World Cup,” said Dharmaraj, who guided Malaysia to win the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca last year.
Dharmaraj has included five national players in his squad. They are defenders Faiz Helmi Jali and Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, midfielders Mohd Fitri Saari and Meor Mohamed Azuan Hassan and forward Mohd Firhan Ashaari.
“Although the five will be playing for the first time in the team, I expect them to combine well with the others,” he added.
Meanwhile, Argentina arrived for the tournament on Friday after travelling for 48 hours.
The Pan American champions, however, will be without their prolific penalty corner specialist Gonzalo Peillat as he is with the national senior side preparing for the Super 9s in Perth, Australia, from Oct 17-20.
Coach Carlos Geneya, however, is confident his team will recover from the jetlag.
“Being young their recovery is faster,” said Geneya.
“We have a balanced squad and will give our best shot. The tournament is vital for us to gauge our progress against teams from Europe and Asia,” added Geneya.
On the match against Malaysia, Geneya said: “Playing the host in the opening match is a daunting task. I have only seen the Malaysians in action on the video of the friendly they played against our senior squad before the World League semi-finals in Johor Baru in July.
“Malaysia have also included five seniors in the team. We are in for a torrid time, but we have our own plans on how to counter them.”
S. Korea vs Pakistan – 4.05pm
England vs India – 6.05pm
Malaysia vs Argentina – 8.05pm
England vs Pakistan – 4.05pm
Argentina vs India – 6.05pm
Malaysia vs S. Korea – 8.05pm
Tags / Keywords:
hockey, Malaysia, National Juniors, Sultan of Johor Cup, Argentina, K. Dharmaraj, Carlos Geneya
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