Kuala Lumpur (12 January, 2017): Malaysia Tigress head coach K. Dhaarma Raj has retained 17 players that competed in the 4th Women Asian Champions Trophy last year for the upcoming Women Hockey World League Round 2 from January 14 to 22, 2017, at the Tun Razak Stadium.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) announced the 18 players picked for the event on the sideline of a pre-tournament sponsorship press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.
Malaysia’s campaign in the World League Round 2 will be led by defender Siti Noor Amarina Ruhani who will shoulder the responsibility of captain.
Youngster Nur Zafirah Aziz, who competed in the ACT, is the only player that has not been selected. She has been replaced by the experienced Nurul Shafiqa Mat Isa whilst Farah Ayuni Yahya, who was voted best goalkeeper at the Women ACT, makes a return after missing out on the New Zealand tour last month.
“After several weeks of intensive training we have picked the cream of the crop for the Women Hockey World League Round 2. Most of these players have more than 50 international caps and have played in Japan, China, Australian Hockey League, Asian Champions Trophy and of recent in the five-match test series against New Zealand in the build up for this event,” said Dhaarma Raj.
“Our target is to finish top in our group in the preliminary round and move forward from there. We face a very strong opposition in the form of Ireland. While we respect the other teams in our group our main focus will be on the Irish as they are ranked world No 16 and it is a must win match for us,” he said.
Apart from Malaysia, the Women Hockey World League Round 2 will feature Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and European sides Ireland, Wales and Italy. World No 15 Italy is drawn in Group A with Thailand, Singapore and Wales whilst Malaysia Tigress is in Group B with Ireland (world No 16), Hong Kong and Kazakhstan.
The Malaysians open their campaign against Hong Kong on Saturday (Jan 14) before taking on Ireland on Jan 16 and Kazakhstan (Jan 17). The quarterfinals begin on Jan 19 (Thursday).
The top two teams in Kuala Lumpur will qualify for the Semi-finals of the World League played either in Belgium or South Africa.
Team captain Siti Noor Amarina, who has played in three World League qualification rounds since 2013 and also captained the side that defeated Japan 2-0 in the Asian Champions Trophy recently, observed: “We have come quite a long way in our preparation for the World League Round 2 and after our friendly matches against Ireland and Wales in the last three days we are ready in our mission.
“All the players are aware that we need to stay focus in every match and win. We will give our 100 percent commitment on the field. The team morale is very positive at this time and we are excited,” she said.
The Irish defeated a mix Malaysia Tigress squad of senior, development and Under-18 players 3-0 in Thursday’s friendly but Dhaarma Raj paraded an almost full senior side against the Welsh in the 2-0 win.
Meanwhile, MHC President, Dato’ Sri Subahan Kamal, thanked Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) – the national electricity utility company and DG Securities, for their kind contributions towards the success of the event.
TNB, represented by its general manager, Dato’ Omar Hj Sidek, contributed RM100,000 while DG Securities Director, Seniljit Singh, gave RM30,000 towards the organisation of the Women Hockey World League Round 2.
“MHC gives equal ratings towards men and women hockey. We are currently talking to several sponsors for the ‘Malaysia Tigress adoption’ programme. We have good women players and for the last one year MHC have sent them for exposure stints in Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand in our preparation for the World League Round 2,” said Dato’ Sri Subahan.
“In line with our policy MHC does not set targets. We let the coaches set the targets as they know better. Coach Dhaarma has been coaching the Tigress for the last one year. He and his staff members have done a good job and there is no double about that.”
“We are confident this team will perform well in the World League Round 2 and MHC has always been supportive of the women’s team,” he added.
Goalkeepers: Farah Ayuni Yahya, Mas Huzaimah Md Aziz
Defenders: Siti Noor Amarina Ruhani, Juliani Mohamad Din, Siti Shahida Saad, Nurul Shafiqa Mat Isa, Raja Norsharina Raja Shabuddin
Midfielders: Fatin Shafika Mohd Sukri, Nuraini Abdul Rashid, Nor Hasliza Md Ali, Surizan Awang Noh, Norazlin Sumantri
Forwards: Fazila Sylvester Silin, Hanis Nadiah Onn, Siti Rahmah Othman, Nurul Nabihah Nabsur, Wan Norfaiezah Md Saiuti, Nuraslinda Said
Manager: Nor Zaliza Ahmad Soobri
Head Coach: K. Dhaarma Raj
Asst Coach: Lailin Abi Hassan
Asst Coach (Goalkeepers): Roslan Jamaluddin