KUALA LUMPUR: India's former national hockey fullback Lazarus Barla will replace Len Aiyappa in the Ernst and Young team for the Malaysia Hockey League challenge, which starts on Aug 6.
He will join star Indian forward, Dhanraj Pillay, as the two foreign players in the Ernst and Young outfit.
Len was the top scorer in the MHL for the last two years. Last year, he top scored with 35 goals. But the Ernst and Young team have decided to get a reliable defender, who can marshal the team at the back and provide better cover, rather than depend on just a goal-scoring machine.
The task of getting the penalty comer goals now rest on local player Mohamed Amin Rahim.
The decision to hire Lazarus is also based on the need for a reliable central defender as former national fullback Maninderjit Singh has joined Sapura along with another defender S. Shankar.
Lazarus was the skipper of the Indian national junior team which took part in the Junior Asia Cup here in 2000. He also played in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, partnering Dilip Tirkey in central defence.
The 25-year-old from the state of Orissa fell out of favour with the national team in 2001. He is considered one of the best defensive tacklers of the ball but does not take penalty corners.
Ernst and Young coach A. Arulselvaraj said yesterday that their main concern was to find a proper set of defenders.
“The loss of Maninderjit Singh will affect our play at the back. That is the reason we have hired Barla who is a good tackler and has the experience to guide our defence.
“We can rely on our local players for the goals. We have also got Dhanraj, who is still a top goal getter,” he said.
Dhanraj will be playing for the third time in the MHL. The flamboyant forward will only arrive here in September after the Athens Olympic. He is expected to make it into the Indian team for the Games, after being dropped from the initial list.
The teams for the 2004 MHL will have to register today and submit their team lists. Last year, there were six foreign players in the fray.
Ernst and Young have also managed to hire national player K. Logan Raj from Sapura. He is likely to provide the midfield cover for the team.
To add more power to their defence, the team have also registered their former coach K. Dharmaraj as a fullback.
“We are in a way short on quality players.
“That is why Dharmaraj has decided to play again. He has vast experience and will be an asset.
“I feel that we will still have a team capable of challenging the best in the league,” he said.
The team have also lost the services of two other players – Mirnawan Nawawi and R. Suriagandhi.
Mirnawan, the former national skipper, will don Sapura colours this year. Sapura will still have their South Korean player Kang Keon-wook for yet another season.