WORLD CUP: Protocol forces Dharmaraj to delay naming his squadCOACH K. Dharmaraj was willing to name his final 18 for the World Cup yesterday, but protocol saw him keep his lips sealed.
All he was willing to say there will be five changes from the side that played in the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan.
"I can name my final 18 right now, but have been told to keep it for another day.
"However, I can reveal that there will be five changes from the team that won bronze in Kuantan," said Dharmaraj during a cheque presentation ceremony by Sime Darby Foundation in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Sime Darby came in to the tune of RM4 million to help fund men's and women's hockey development until the 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympics.
The possible five names that might be included in the World Cup squad today are Razie Rahim, goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin, Shahrun Nabil, Hafifi Hafiz and Mohamed Ramadhan Rosli.
Sime Darby Foundation chief executive officer Yatela Zainal Abidin said: "The RM4 million sponsorship is for a two-year period and will, among others, facilitate the senior men's and women's team participation in various local and foreign tournaments. It will include subsidising the team's tickets, accommodation, meals and team's attire."
Yesterday the World Cup T-shirt was unveiled with the Sime Darby logo prominently displayed at the front.
"We are looking for a good finish in the World Cup, as we hope to elevate our current 13th position to at least 10th in the world," said Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Malaysia are in Group A with World No 1 Australia, Belgium, England, Spain and India.
Tengku Abdullah thanked Sime Darby for its contribution: "It will go a long way in helping hockey and I am sure after this there will no longer be any issues about late payments of salaries (to coaches)."
Coach Dharmaraj had to resort to almost quitting the team on the eve of the World Cup, for the MHC to agree to pay him five months of backdated salary as well as a better contract.
On another note, Tengku Abdullah said let the best man win in the FA of Malaysia elections this weekend.
"Many quarters have asked if I will leave hockey after winning the FAM elections, and my answer is let me cross the bridge first before making a statement.
"However, suffice to say I will not leave hockey without finding a capable replacement as the sport is on its upward trend and needs a strong hand to take it to the next level."
The national players also received a windfall as those who played in the World League semi-finals received RM5,000 while Junior World Cup players were RM10,000 richer.
Read more: HOCKEY: Hush-hush for 1 more day - Other - New Straits Times