Singapore (26 Oct, 2016): National women’s team head coach K. Dharmaraj is counting on his Malaysia Tigress to cause some form of ripples, gain respect and be countered in the 4th Women Asian Champions Trophy.
The 18-member Malaysia Tigress left for Singapore today to compete in the five-nation Champions Trophy which begins on Oct 29-Nov 6 at the world-class Sengkang Hockey Stadium.
“If we look at the strength of the teams in terms of world rankings, we are way behind at No 21. But that should not deter us from giving our best. We have had good international exposure in China, Japan and also played against Western Australia and in the Australia Hockey League,” said Dharmaraj.
The players, he added, gave a good account in the friendly matches against Western Australia and also in the Australian Hockey League where they finished seventh out of 10 teams.
China leads the challenge in the Asian Champions Trophy. The Chinese are ranked World No 8 in the FIH Rankings and is the highest ranked team in the competition followed by Korea (9), Japan (10), India (12) and Malaysia at 21.
First introduced in 2010 to create an opportunity for teams to gather more high-level competition experience, the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy has taken place three times so far.
In past Asian Champions Trophy editions, Korea have been the most successful team with two Asian Champions Trophy gold medals, while Japan have medals in each edition, claiming silver in 2010, bronze in 2011 and gold in 2013.
The Indians also won bronze in 2010 and came out fourth in 2011. The Champions Trophy was not held in 2014 and 2015. As for China, their best finish was silver in 2011 on home soil but emerged fourth in 2010 and 2013 while Malaysia came third in Kakamigahara.
While China, India, Korea and Japan go into the tournament as ‘title pretenders’, the same cannot be said of the Malaysians who are the underdogs.
The Malaysia Tigress were earlier given a grand sending off by Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHC) president, Dato’ Sri Subahan Kamal, and several executive council members of the national body in Kuala Lumpur today.
“It will be a tough tournament but good in our preparations for the World League Round 2 in Kuala Lumpur from Jan 14-22,” said Dharmaraj. “However, this is a great opportunity for the players to learn and improve as we will play against four experienced teams that competed in the Rio Olympics.”
The return of goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya and Noor Hasliza Yahya Ali who are trainees with the Royal Malaysian Police Force has poured more excitement into the squad. Both players did not travel to Perth for the Australian League.
Team manager: Nor Saliza
Coach: K. Dharmaraj
Players – Goalkeepers: Farah Ayuni Yahya, Mas Huzaimah Md Aziz
Defenders: Juliani Mohamad Din, Siti Nur Amarina Ruhani, Siti Shahida Saad, Raja Norsharina Shabuddin, Azlin Sumantri.
Midfielders: Surizan Awang Noh, Noraini Abd Rashid, Fatin Shafika Mohd Sukri, Wan Norfaiezah Sauiti, Nor Hasliza Ali.
Forwards: Hanis Nadiah Onn, Nurul Nabihah Mansur, Fazilla Sylvester Silin, Siti Rahmah Othman, Noraslinda Said, Zafirah Aziz.
29 Oct (Saturday): Korea v Malaysia (4.00pm); Japan v India (6.00pm).
30 Oct (Sunday): China v Malaysia (4.00pm); Korea v India (6.00pm).