08 Nov 2012

Rivals gunning for Malaysia's' scalp


NATIONAL youth coach K. Dharmaraj wants his team to play without fear in the Sultan of Johor Cup which starts on Sunday in Johor Baru.

Malaysia, the defending champions, are among the most improved junior teams in the world and foreign coaches are now keeping an eye on Dharmaraj's boys following their win in the Junior Asia Cup in May.


Dharmaraj was given the job to mould the nation's best junior players into a formidable unit and the former international has done just that but his team still need to work on their weaknesses before next year's Junior World Cup in New Delhi.

"We have conquered Asia and the next step is to become among the best in the world," said Dharmaraj yesterday.

"We must not aim low nor give too much respect to our rivals. We must think big and only then can we make an impression."

Five-time world champions Germany, Australia, New Zealand, India and Pakistan make up the six-team tournament.

Except for the Shaari brothers -- Faizal and Fitri -- together with Faiz Helmi, who have been selected for a senior team assignment, Dharmaraj will field the same squad who won the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca.

Among the core players are Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi, Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Mohd Syamim Mohd Yusof, Mohd Azri Hassan, Mohd Firhan Ashaari, Mohd Ramadan Rosli, Mohd Noor Faeez Ibrahim, Norhizzat Sumantri and Shazril Irwan Nazli.

Dharmaraj will name his 18-member squad after a friendly against New Zealand in Johor Baru tomorrow. "No doubt, national coach Paul Revington's decision to drop nine juniors from the Champions Challenge I will strengthen my team, but the Saari brothers and Faiz are our core players and their absences will be felt."

Malaysia play Germany in their opening match on Sunday.

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