Pleasant headache for Dharmaraj
WITH 25 days to the World League (WL) Semifinals in Belgium, national women’s coach K. Dharmaraj has 16 players on his mind.
Two more slots is a pleasant headache, as a group of players are fighting tooth-and-nail for the chance to play in Belgium on June 21-July 2.
Malaysia’s 18-member women’s team will be making their debut in the WL Semifinals after a sterling show in WL Round Two where they snatched the silver medal from the jaws of Italy, whom they beat in a shootout in the semi-finals in Kuala Lumpur.
Italy are ranked 16th while Malaysia are 22nd in the world.
Dharmaraj and his charges, who are the lowest ranked team in Belgium, will attempt another mammoth task of trying to qualify for the 2018 World Cup by finishing in the seventh-eighth bracket in Belgium.
“I have the players in mind, but the last two slots are difficult to fill not because I don’t have the players but because a group of them are almost of the same standard and have been training and playing hard to make the grade.
“This is what I wanted, as I need fighters to make an impact in the World League (Semifinals),” said Dharmaraj.
The women have been sparring with the Bukit Jalil Sports School girls and boys teams in the evenings, while mornings are reserved for fitness.
In the WL Semifinals, Malaysia are in Group B and will open accounts against Australia on June 21, followed by Spain (June 22), Belgium (June 24) and New Zealand (June 27).
“We need to beat one team in the group stage, and our chances of qualifying for our first World Cup will open up.
“I believe eight teams (all the quarter-finalists) from this tournament will make the cut to play in the World Cup in London,” said Dhrmaraj.
This is because of double qualification in continental tournaments will open doors to more than just the semi-finalists.
Group A: China (8th), South Korea (9th), Netherlands (1st), Italy (16th), Scotland (17th).
Group B: Australia (4th), Belgium (14th), New Zealand (5th), Spain (10th), Malaysia (22nd).
Note: World rankings in brackets. Jugjet Singh