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Tuesday December 17, 2013 MYT 4:29:00 PM
Tuesday December 17, 2013 MYT 4:50:42 PM
by eric samuel
Coach K. Dharmaraj (right) leads the Junior World Cup hockey team out of the arrival hall at KLIA on Tuesday morning. The juniors did well by finishing fourth in the 16-team tournament won by Germany for the sixth time in New Delhi last week. - The STAR/ Mohd Sahar Misni
PETALING JAYA: There was no fanfare but just a warm welcome for the Malaysian hockey team (Project 2013), who returned home with promise of a better future after a creditable fourth placing at the Junior World Cup in New Delhi.
About 50 people were at the KLIA yesterday morning to greet the National Juniors, who lost 3-1 to France on penalties in the semi-finals after both teams were tied 1-1 in regulation time.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was the first to greet the Malaysian players, who touched down at 5.45am.
He was full of praise for the Malaysian team and promised something special (incentive) for their efforts.
“The achievement is huge ... not Asia, but of world level. I will arrange something special for them. It is not easy to be among the top four in the world. It could have been different if not for the narrow defeat to France (on penalties),” said Khairy.
On the future of National Juniors coach K. Dharmaraj and the team, Khairy hoped that the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) would continue with their development plans.
“I think his (Dharmaraj) success speaks for itself. I hope MHC will continue to groom more talents for the future,” said Khairy, who credited the four-year collaboration between the MHC and the National Sports Council (NSC).
Dharmaraj said he had no plans to leave MHC although he has received an offer to coach abroad.
“My children are young and I have no plans to leave. I am looking at opportunities here (in Malaysia),” said Dharmaraj.
Asked what’s next for his boys, Dharmaraj said at least 10 players would be drafted into the senior team for the World Cup in The Hague, Holland, next year.
“These boys have a promising future and should move on from here,” said Dharamaraj.
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