Thursday June 29, 2017
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For now, coach K. Dharmaraj wants the national women’s hockey team to focus on the Asia Cup in October in Japan. — Malay Mail picFor now, coach K. Dharmaraj wants the national women’s hockey team to focus on the Asia Cup in October in Japan. — Malay Mail picKUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — The national women’s performance in the World League Semifinals in Burssels have made people take notice and International Hockey Federation (FIH) are keen to award  2020 Youth World Cup hosts’ job to Malaysia.

The Tigress spirited display against New Zealand, which Malaysia lost 1-0 yesterday, had convinced FIH officials and head coach K. Dharmaraj stated in an interview after the match that they agreed to consider Malaysia as hosts of the major youth tournament. 

The other tournament that could be hosted by Malaysia is the World League Round Three next year which is a qualifying event to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

FIH are convinced Malaysia have the qualities to be a strong hockey nation and are willing to help the growth of the sport here.

“This is what we need, a little help,“ said when contacted in Brussels Dharmaraj.

“It took quite a bit of convincing and our performance yesterday did the rest. They saw us fight, they saw us struggle and they saw us keep our chins up in adversity.

“I tried to get MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) to host the World League Three but were given World League Two instead,“ recalled Dharmaraj.

“We were not recognised then, but now it’s the best time to get it done. Women’s Youth World Cup in Malaysia would be great.”

In Burssels, Olivia Merry’s fifth minute field goal separated New Zealand, the world No 5, and Malaysia, who are ranked No 22.

The result showed Malaysia managed to recover from the 9-0 drubbing by hosts Belgium three days ago.

After a rest day which coincided with Hari Raya celebrations, Malaysia turned their fortunes around and Dharmaj praised their spirit against New Zealand.

“One thing we have to understand is we do not have a clue how good these teams are until we play them,” explained Dharmaraj.

“You can only feel the difference for yourself when you play against them. That’s when you realise how far the other top teams are ahead of us (Australia, Spain, New Zealand and Belgium).

“This is a good learning experience for us as it is a campaign to make the World Cup.”

“Playing against world class teams was always going to be challenging,” opined Dharmaraj.

“We realise how much this team have to improve to compete with the best in the world.

“It will not benefit us in the long run if we played defensively and tried to minimise the damage.”

Malaysia will play in the nïnth to 10th placing playoff against Scotland today (5pm).

For now, Dharmaraj wants the girls to focus on the Asia Cup in October in Japan. If they are crowned champions, they will automatically qualify for the World Cup next year.

“Compared to qualifying from here where were in the group of death, the Asia Cup offers us“another chance, perhaps the most realistic way for us to make the World Cup,“ added Dharmaraj.

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