Friday, June 9, 2017
LONE RANGER WITH TONTO... Dharmaraj (right) with manager Lailin Abu Hassan at a Press Conference Friday to name his World League Semifinals players.
WOMEN'S coach K. Dharmaraj was worried sick over his team's chances in the World League Semifinals in Brussels, but his charges' confidence was just the pill that he needed.
Malaysia at 22 and the lowest ranked team in Brussels, have been written off by all and sundry -- except for the coaching set-up and the players themselves.
"For the last four days, I have been worried sick on how to plan and win at least one match in our group to qualify for the quarter-finals in Belgium which will assure us a place in next year's World Cup.
"But the jitters was calmed when my players told me "don't worry coach, we will qualify for the World Cup," said Dharmaraj after naming the final 18 who will play in the WL Semifinals from June 21 to July 2.
Malaysia are in Group B with Australia (No 4), New Zealand (5), Belgium (14) and Spain (10).
They must finish top-four in the group stages to qualify for the World Cup.
In Group A are Netherlands (1), China (8), South Korea (9), Italy (16) and Scotland (17).
"Their soothing words, determination and confidence in training is what I needed to plan ahead for at least one win in the group. I acknowledge, Australia and New Zealand are many rungs above my girls, but I believe we have enough talent to beat either Spain or Belgium," said Dharmaraj.
With the World Cup showcasing 16 teams next year in London, those which finish top-eight in the World League Semifinals in Brussels and South Africa are almost sure bets to qualify.
"We need to finish fourth in Group B, and even though it looks easy, it will not be so, as all the other teams have seen action at high levels while my players have qualified for the first time to play in the WL Semifinals," said Dharmaraj.
Yesterday, Dharmaraj named his final 18 for Brussels with three changes from the team which won silver in the World League Round Two in Kuala Lumpur.
Back then, they upset 16th ranked Italy to qualify for their first World League Semifinals.
After Round Two Siti Shahidah Saad called it quits to concentrate on her family, and it threw a spanner in Dharmaraj's engine room.
And after much deliberation, he selected Nur Syafiqah Zain to take over Siti's defenders job.
Nur Syafiqah, at 22, will be making her debut with the Malaysian team. The other two replacement for injured players are Norbaini Hashim and Nur Zafirah Aziz.
MALAYSIA -- Juliani Din, Siti Noor Amarina (C), Raja Norsharina, Nor Hasliza, Fatin Shafika, Nurul Nabihah, Mas Huzaimah (Gk), Norazlin Sumantri, Siti Rahmah, Wan Norfaiezah Saiuti, Hanis Nadiah Onn, Farah Ayuni (Gk), Fazilla Sylverster Silin, Nuraini Rashid, Nurbaini Hashim,
Nur Syafiqah Zain, Nuraslinda Said, Nur Zafirah Aziz.