Nurul to shoulder dual role at junior Asian tournament

KUALA LUMPUR: Nurul Nadia Mokhtar will shoulder a heavy responsibilty in the Junior Asia Cup women’s hockey tournament, which begins on Saturday at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium.

The 20-year-old Penangite not only has to marshal the defence but she is also depended on to deliver the goals from penalty corners.

But Nurul is not satisfied with her penalty corner conversion rate in two friendly matches against the South Korean juniors last September.

“I took six penalty corners in the two matches and managed to score only one. The pressure is definitely on me to deliver the goals in the Junior Asia Cup,’’ said Nurul, who was in the national senior team for the 2006 Doha Asian Games.

Nurul, who has 40 international caps to her credit, added that she was working on improving her penalty corner execution and hoped to get it right in the tournament.

Malaysia will open their campaign in Group A against Japan on Saturday. Their other matches are against defending champions China (Dec 15), Pakistan (Dec 17) and Thailand (Dec 18). Group B comprises three-time champions South Korea, India, Singapore and Taiwan.

The tournament, which ends on Dec 21, offers three places to the 2009 women’s Junior World Cup Finals in Boston scheduled for Aug 3-18.

And Nurul admitted that it would be difficult for Malaysia to get among the top three.

“China, South Korea, Japan and India are much stronger than us. But we will give our best to finish in a creditable position,’’ said Nurul, who was also in the national team for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria, Canada, last April.

The final squad of 18 player for the Asian Juniors were named yesterday. The team is under the charge of Yahya Atan and he is assisted by Tai Beng Hai and Mohd Nasihin Nubli.

The squad

Goalkeepers: Farah Ayuni, Nurul Fatihah.

Defenders: Nurul Nabilah, Nurul Nadia Mokhtar, Siti Sahidah Saad, Kumangi Anak Jamid, Norhafizah Ismail, Marlia Mohamed.

Midfielders: Nor Hasliza Mohd Ali, Siti Nor Amarina (captain), Nur Aini Abdul Rashid, Zurina Mohd Yusof, Fatin Naimah Zaki.

Forwards: Norbaini Hashim, Fazilla Sylvester Silin, Nor Hidayah Ahmad Bokhairi, Nor Azlin Mohd Ali, Suzanne Anak Majang.

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