Sunday, December 30, 2007

MHF: Muralidharan free to pick his man

National junior hockey coach V. Muralidharan will be given a free hand to pick his assistant.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) coaching chairman, C. Paramalingam, said they had shortlisted a few candidates for Muralidharan to consider.

Currently junior development coach Paul Lissek is assisting the 47-year-old Muralidharan, who took over the job as national junior coach following the decision by Tai Beng Hai to quit the team in October.

“We want him to be comfortable working with the person he picks. We have to name the assistant soon because the national juniors will be involved in an eight-nation tournament from Jan 17-27,” said Paramalingam.

The invited teams for the tournament are Australia, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and South Korea.

Paramalingam added that Muralidharan had yet to submit the programme for the team to the coaching committee.

Selangor hold favourites KL to a draw, Malacca demolish Perlis

Selangor staved off a strong onslaught from favourites Kuala Lumpur and snatched a 1-1 draw in a Group B match of the national Under-21 tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

KL, the Sukma (Malaysia Games) champions in Kedah last year, dominated the match but could only convert one penalty corner from the seven they earned with Hafis Jami sounding the board off their second attempt in the 44th minute.

Selangor took a defensive approach but managed to equalise off a penalty corner set-piece in the 59th minute with R. Arputharaj getting his name on the scoresheet.

Selangor and KL have four points each from two matches. Selangor defeated Johor 2-0 in their opening match on Saturday while KL demolished Perlis 5-1.

Selangor coach Paul Raj said that the tournament was part of their preparations for Sukma, which will be held in Kuala Terengganu in May.

“But I am pleased with my boys' performance in the two matches and we are in contention for a place in the semi-finals. They did well in a fast counter attack strategy against KL,” he said.

Paul added they would gun for a big win against Perlis today.

But Selangor are likely to be without defender R. Devaraj, who suffered a hamstring injury in the match against KL.

Malacca, meanwhile, registered their second big win – demolishing Perlis 6-0. Malacca, who defeated Terengganu 5-0 in their opening match, are the Group B leaders with maximum points.

Two of their players scored a brace against Perlis – skipper Nazmi Kamaruddin (4th, 22nd) and B. Namasivayam (15th, 34th). The other scorers were Mohd Arifin Dolah (20th) and Mohd Syakir Amir Kamarudin (67th).

In Group A, Negri Sembilan bounced back from an opening 3-5 defeat by Penang to beat Pahang 3-0.

Razlee Amree Mustafar gave Negri the lead in the 22nd minute off a penalty corner. Eight minutes later, G. Kavin Kartik scored off another penalty corner goal and Mohd Marhan Jalil was on target with a field goal in the 56th minute.

Coach S. Chandran was glad to see a determined display from his boys against Pahang.

“The win has put us back on track for a semi-final berth,” he said.

Malacca blast five goals past Terengganu, champs Perak held

Malacca got off to a flying start in the national Under-21 tournament, outplaying Terengganu 5-0 in a Group B match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Skipper Nazmi Kamaruddin scored a brace in the 23rd and 29th minutes. The other scorers were B. Namasivayam (8th), Mohd Fareez Ismail (25th) and Mohd Syakir Amir Kamarudin (44th).

The match was played in hot and humid conditions and Malacca coach G. Ravindran was glad that his team trooped out of their opening match with a convincing win.

“The first match is usually difficult. But we took our chances well and I am happy with my boys' performance. We could have scored more goals in the second half but slow down the game because of the hot weather,” he said.

Ravindran added that he was also happy to see Nazmi getting on target with two goals.

“He is good with his penalty corner flicks and I hope he will score more goals in the tournament,” he said.

Malacca, whho were the runners-up when they hosted the last tournament in 2005, are expected to chalk up another big win against minnows Perlis today. Perlis crashed to a 1-5 by Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Two KL players scored a brace – Mohd Faisal Kamarudin (third, 44th) and Mohd Shafiq Othman (26th, 28th). The other goal was scored by Mohd Hafiz Zakaria (42nd).

Perlis got their goal through Mohd Zikri Had in the 46th minute.

Defending champions Perak were held to a 1-1 draw in a Group A match against Kedah. Former national junior trainee Fazreen Ehsan Kulub Wahab gave Perak the lead off a penalty corner in the 23rd minute.

Kedah equalised with a penalty corner goal by Khairul Aiaman Mohd Noor in the 54th minute.

Perak coach Mokhtar Baharuddin was disappointed with his team's performance.

“My boys were off form and they struggled against a weaker team. It was a bad start for us as the defending champions,” he said.

Mokhtar added that he hoped his boys would rise to occasion against hard-hitting Kelantan today.

Yesterday, Kelatan turned on the heat in the second half and defeated Pahang 4-1.

Kelantan led 1-0 at half time with a field goal by Mohd Junaidi Ghazali in the 16th minute. Their other scorers were Mohd Kamil Yaakob (40th), Wan Mohd Syafiq Wan Noor Zuhairi (61st) and Mohd Fadli Ismail (62nd).

Pahang's consolation goal was scored by Mohd Firdaus Mokhtar in the 60th minute.

Juniors to host Scotland after Chennai trip is cancelled

The national junior hockey team's playing tour to Chennai scheduled for Feb 16-24 has been cancelled.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary, Hashim Mohd Yusoff, said that they had to make the cancellation because the Indian junior team were not able to play matches against their Malaysian counterparts.

“They will be involved in a three-nation tournament with Spain and Belgium during the same period in Chennai,” he said.

“Our juniors need exposure as part of their preparations for the 2009 Junior World Cup Finals. However, the good news is Scotland will be coming here to train from Feb 24 to March 5 and they have requested to play some friendly matches against our juniors.”

Malaysia are co-hosting the Junior World Cup Finals with Singapore and Hashim added that the South Korean team would also be here from March 11-23 to play friendly matches against the national juniors.

Beginning on Jan 4, seven friendly matches against the New South Wales juniors have been lined up for the team.

There are 32 players in the training squad and coach V. Muralidharan will use the matches to finalise an 18-member team for an eight-nation tournament scheduled for Jan 17-27 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

The teams invited for the tournament are Australia, Germany, Holland, India, Pakistan, South Korea and New Zealand.

The national juniors have been barred from playing in the ongoing national Under-21 tournament in Bukit Jalil.

Hashim added that the competitions committee would meet on Jan 5 to decide on whether the juniors would be release to play in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL), which begins on Feb 4.

“The closing date for the MJHL is Jan 17 and we hope to see more teams in the fray,” he said.

A record 23 teams took part in the league this year. Nine teams featured in Division One and 14 teams played in a two-group preliminaries in Division Two.

Hashim added that the competitions committee at the meeting would also decide on the hosts of the national Under-14 and Under-16 tournaments.

Under-strength Selangor play down their chances

Selangor are not setting any target for the National Under-21 hockey tournament starting today at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Team manager Abdul Rahim Ahmad said that they had lost the services of six players, who are in training with the national junior squad.

“We have some new players in the team and we will use the tournament for them to gain exposure. Besides, we only had one week of training,” he said.

The 32 players in the national junior training squad have been barred from playing in the tournament.

Abdul Rahim said that their main priority was to prepare a strong team for Sukma (Malaysia Games) in Terengganu in May.

“We finished third in the Kedah Sukma last year and our aim in the coming Games is to reach the final,” he said.

Abdul Rahim added that they would face a daunting task in the tournament as they had only four experienced players who played in last year's Sukma, in the team.

They are defenders Mohd Zulfadli Adil and Mohd Abdul Jalil Razak, centre-half Zulfadli Mohd Isa and forward R. Devaraj.

“In preparing for the tournament, we played two friendly matches. We lost 1-2 to Negri Sembilan and drew 2-2 with KL. We are banking on Abdul Jalil to deliver the goals from penalty corners in the tournament.”

Selangor have been drawn in Group B with Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Perlis and Terengganu. Defending champions Perak are in Group A with Pahang, Negri, Penang, Kelantan and Kedah.

Abdul Rahim added that Malacca, KL and Johor had some good players in their ranks and saw them as strong contenders for the title.

Selangor open their campaign against Johor today. The final is scheduled for Jan 5.

Hockey: Level playing field for under-21 tournament

In the absence of national junior players, all teams have equal chances of winning the National Under-21 tournament starting today at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Thirty-two players are in the national junior training squad and they have been barred from playing in the tournament.

Twelve teams will feature in the tournament with defending champions Perak, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan drawn in Group A.

Malacca are drawn in Group B with Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, Perlis and Terengganu.

Team managers and coaches have given the thumbs-up to the organisers for barring the national juniors from the tournament.

KL team manager Abdulah Yunus said that besides giving equal footing for all the teams in the tournament, it also gives opportunity for new players to shine in the tournament.

“These players need all the exposure they can get. Furthermore, it also gives new players a chance to earn a place in the national junior team.

“If the national juniors play in the tournament it will not benefit them as they have enough exposure and it would hinder new players from proving themselves,” said Abdulah.

He added that KL have have set a semi-final target although they will not have seven players who are now training with the national junior squad.

Perak coach Mokhtar Baharuddin also agrees with the decision and said the tournament would provide an equal playing field to all the teams in the tournament.

“Without the national juniors, every team's strength is unknown, hence making the tournament more open and interesting.

“It will also gives the national selectors a chance to look for talented players during the tournament,'' said Mokhtar.

Selangor coach Paul Raj said that he too supports the decision.

“It's better to have an equal chance for all the teams rather than see one team with the most number of national juniors winning the tournament.

“Each team registered 18 players and with 12 teams in the tournament, there are 216 players who have the chance to shine in the tournament and earn a place in the junior or senior national teams,'' said Paul.

However, Malacca, who finished runners-up at their own backyard in the last tournament in 2005, will have the services of former national junior trainee B. Namasivayam.

Besides Namasivayam, they also have a good penalty corner flicker in Nazmi Kamarudin.

And most of the coaches believe that Malacca are the favourites to win the title.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Norhizzat now aims to stamp mark in U-21 meet

Sixteen-year-old Norhizzat Sumantri has a small physique but he has the ability to play better hockey than many older players.

He proved this by making an excellent debut for Kuala Lumpur in the Razak Cup tournament in Kuantan in October. KL won the Division Two title and Norhizzat had two goals to his name.

Up next for Norhizzat is his first outing in national Under-21 tournament, which begins tomorrow at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

KL chief coach K. Dharmaraj said that Norhizzat is a skilful player with a bright future.

“I am impressed with his dribbling skills and his ability to beat older and bigger players to score goals. He proved this in the Razak Cup. He is our utility player, who can play in midfield and attack. We are banking on him to deliver the goods in the Under-21 tournament,'' he said.

Although Dharmaraj felt that Norhizzat deserved to be in the national junior training squad, the player was not among those selected after undergoing trials two weeks ago. And Norhizzat was disappointed that he failed to impress the selectors.

“My aim was to win a place in the team for the 2009 Junior World Cup Finals. I am sad that I did not get selected to join the training squad. I will give my best in the national Under-21 tournament and hopefully I get voted as the best player to be considered for the national junior team,'' said Norhizzat, who was named as the best player of the Under-15 tournament in Seremban in 2004.

He was the skipper of the KL team who finished third in the national Under-16 tournament in May.

Although Norhizzat is from Klang, he represents KL because he is studying at the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS). He featured in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) for BJSS Juniors and has scored six goals.

Norhizzat said that he also wants to establish himself as a top goalscorer in the national Under-21 tournament.

Besides Norhizzat, the other forwards in the KL team are M. Vickneswaran, Mohd Hafiz Zakaria, Mohd Adam Mustafa, Mohd Faisal Kamarudin and Faizal Yaccob.

KL finished third in Malacca in 2005 and last year the City team won Sukma (Malaysia Games), which alternates with the national Under-21 tournament.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Misfiring Harvinder aims to end drought with junior squad

Forward Harvinder Singh received the call up to join the national juniors for his good performances in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL). But since joining the team, he has failed to deliver the goods.

The 18-year-old Kuala Lumpur player scored six goals for Tenaga Nasional in the MJHL and was named the man-of-the-match in the final against the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).

But he has yet to score a goal in seven matches for the national juniors in two competitions – the playing tour of Australia in September and a six-nation tournament in Singapore in October.

Harvinder, who is the younger brother of national midfielder Kelvinder, said that he was disappointed with his game.

“My dream is to follow in the footsteps of my brother, who not only drives the midfield well for the senior team but has also scored goals in international matches. But I have performed poorly and it is not good for my hockey career,'' he said.

However, Harvinder has been given another chance to prove himself. He is among 32 players shortlisted for training to prepare for an eight-nation tournament scheduled for Jan 17-27 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

“My mission is to feature in the 2009 Junior World Cup and I will go all out to impress the new national coach (V. Muralidharan) and get a place in the final squad for the eight-nation tournament,” he said.

“The players will be assessed in the seven friendly matches against the juniors from New South Wales next week and I hope to end my goal drought.”

Besides Harvinder the other forwards in the training squad are Mohd Azami Adabi, Eldon Lemery, Khairul Azuan Abdul Hamid, Mohd Izzat Gazali, Hang Edzharsyah Hang Tuah and Mohd Rifhan Azhar.

In the eight-nation tournament, Malaysia will be up against Australia, Germany, Holland, India, Pakistan and South Korea. The tournament is part of the team's preparations for the Junior World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Malaysia and Singapore.

Coach: Malacca good enough for semis

Coach G. Ravindran is not taking any chances in his bid to help Malacca make a favourable impression in the national Under- 21 hockey tournament, starting on Saturday at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Malacca have tough company in Group B, which has Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Terengganu, Perlis and Selangor. But Ravindran feels that his side has what it takes to make at least the semi-finals. Group A comprises defending champions Perak, Pahang, Kedah, Kelantan and Penang.

“Selangor, Johor and KL are regarded as formidable opponents and title hopefuls. I am banking on fitness and endurance to help us in our cause,” said Ravindran.

“We had a decent period of centralised training and played several friendly matches with local club sides.”

Added manager Francis Leong: “We have players with fighting qualities. The absence of national trainees have brought on a level playing field this time and we are certainly capable of bagging honours.”

Malacca have seven players from their Razak Cup squad to add depth and experience to their side.

They are goalkeeper Azrul Hairi Abdul Latiff, defender Mohd Aizudin Yusof, halves Mohd Shakir Kamarudin and Nazmi Kamarudin and forwards Mohd Fareez Ismail, B. Namasivayam and Mohd Ariffin Dolah.

Malacca have yet to win the national Under-21 title. They were the runners-up thrice in the last 10 years.

MHF caught in a state versus country poser

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) are in a dilemma. They have to deal with the state versus country issue in drawing up their calendar for 2008 to ensure that the national teams train without disruptions.

The MHF plan to put the national juniors in full-time training and that means the players will not be able to feature in many domestic tournaments. But if the Under-21 tournament is anything to go by, the states will be up in arms if there is a blanket ban on the players.

Some states have criticised the MHF for not allowing the national trainees to play in the Under-21 tournament scheduled for Dec 29-Jan 6 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

The MHF domestic calendar includes the Under-21, Under-14, Under-16, Champions Schools and Razak Cup and all these tournaments involve state teams.

The Malaysia Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) are club-based tournaments.

The MHF secretary, Hashim Mohamed Yusof, said that the competitions committee would meet on Jan 5 to work out the calendar.

“There is no way we can avoid the state versus country issue. This time we have to make a decision on a year-round basis instead of on an ad hoc basis,” he said.

“Our international commitments are also increasing each year and both our national teams (junior and senior) have important assignments over the next two years. The competitions committee will make the recommendations and it is for the council to make the final decision.”

The only good news for the MHF is that the seniors will not be affected in the early part of the year when the MJHL or the other age-group tournaments are held. That is because there are no players below 19 years in the team.

There is also no Under-21 tournament next year because it alternates with Sukma (Malaysia Games). Terengganu will host the Games from May 31-June 6.

Hashim has called on the state secretaries to provide feedback on the issue.

“It is better if the states take the trouble to discuss it now instead of making noise when a tournament is just round the corner,” he said.

Next year the juniors' main target is the Junior Asia Cup. They will have several tours besides a host of matches in Kuala Lumpur.

For the seniors, the main objective is the Olympic qualifiers in Japan in April and they will also have the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament.

All the national coaches have also been asked to provide their programmes by Jan 5 so that the committee can take them into account when they work out the calendar.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sarjit akur pilihan FIH

Jurulatih skuad hoki negara, Sarjit Singh tidak sedikit pun terkilan apabila tiada seorang pun anak buahnya di antara 18 pemain Pilihan Terbaik Dunia yang dinilai oleh Persekutuan Hoki Antarabangsa (FIH) pada 19 Disember lalu.

Dia sebaliknya memandang keputusan badan induk itu sebagai perangsang dan pengukur untuk skuad negara bekerja lebih keras apatah lagi dengan hanya menduduki ranking ke-14 dunia dan tercorot dalam Trofi Juara-Juara yang berakhir 9 Disember lalu.

‘‘Jika kita masih di luar kelompok 10 teratas dunia, mana mungkin ada pemain negara yang boleh dipilih sebagai antara terbaik oleh FIH. Kita hanya perlu bekerja lebih keras untuk mengubahnya,’’ katanya, semalam yang mula melatih skuad negara sejak Januari lalu kepada Utusan Malaysia.

FIH mengumumkan Pilihan 18 Terbaik Dunia yang kebanyakannya daripada skuad pemenang Trofi Juara-Juara dan juara dunia, Jerman; Belanda, Sepanyol, Australia dan New Zealand manakala hanya Asia cuma diwakili Dilip Tirkey (India), Jong Ho Seo (Korea Selatan) dan Dilawar Hussain (Pakistan).

Trofi Juara-Juara ke-29 di Kuala Lumpur merupakan pentas pemilihan terakhir FIH tetapi skuad negara hanya mampu mengutip satu mata setelah seri 2-2 dengan Pakistan selain dikalahkan Australia 2-0, Belanda 3-1, Great Britain 3-2, Korea Selatan 3-2, Jerman 3-2, Sepanyol 7-2 dan Pakistan 3-2 (penentuan tempat).

Namun, hakikat yang perlu diakui peminat hoki tempatan ialah peningkatan anak didik Sarjit selepas Malaysia kempunan sebarang pingat Sukan Asia Doha 2006 dengan bergelar naib juara Piala Sultan Azlan Shah, tempat ketiga Piala Asia dan memenangi emas Sukan SEA Korat.

Malah, Malaysia hanya layak menyertai Trofi Juara-Juara (kejohanan terpilih untuk enam pasukan elit mulanya) selaku tuan rumah selepas FIH mengambil kira keadaan keselamatan di Pakistan yang membimbangkan kebanyakan pasukan sehingga ada yang mahu menarik diri.

S. Selvaraju, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Jalil, Shahrun Nabil Abdullah, Chua Boon Huat, Azlan Misron, Kevinder Singh dan S. Kumar merupakan antara tonggak negara yang tetap menyerlah dalam Trofi Juara-Juara dengan semangat juang tinggi dan kemampuan mengejar jurang jaringan menentang tujuh pasukan terbaik dunia.

Sementara itu, Sarjit ternyata tidak membuang masa dengan matlamat terbarunya - Kelayakan Sukan Olimpik 2008 di Kakamigahara, Gifu, Jepun yang menempatkan kita dengan Jerman, Jepun, Poland dan Switzerland serta satu lagi pasukan bakal pengganti Czech yang menarik diri.

Hanya juara pusingan kelayakan dari 5 hingga 13 April ini bakal meraih tiket ke Beijing dengan Sarjit mengatur sehingga 22 perlawanan ujian untuk 32 anak buahnya termasuk dua tonggak senior yang dipanggil semula iaitu S. Kuhan dan Amin Rahim mulai Februari hingga Mac depan.

‘‘Siri ujian ini akan bermula selepas mereka menjalani kem latihan fizikal di Desaru, Johor dari 6 hingga 18 Januari manakala perlawanan yang diatur adalah dengan Trinidad & Tobago, Queensland dan New South Wales (Australia), Korea Selatan dan China,” katanya.

Hockey players get physical

The national hockey team will undergo a two-week intensive training camp in Desaru as part of their preparations for an Olympic qualifying tournament in Japan in April.

The emphasis in training at the camp scheduled for Jan 6-18 will be on the physical aspect. A few mental training sessions are also in store and there will be limited hockey sessions at the nearby Bandar Penawar Sports School.

Physical training will be conducted by German York Techman, who is a full-time employee of the National Sports Institute (NSI). Mental training will be conducted by NSI’s psychologist Fred Tan.

Coach Sarjit Singh said that the players would undergo fitness tests next week before leaving for the camp.

“All 32 players are required to attend the camp. It is a very crucial part of our programme and this will count towards selection later,” he said.

“The fitness level of the players has not been good in recent months and it showed up during the Champions Trophy earlier this month (Malaysia finished last in the eight-team tournament). Therefore, the players can expect a very tough camp. We will push them hard in Desaru,” he said.

The team went into full-time training from yesterday and Sarjit said that set plays and other aspects of the game would be dealt with after the stint in Desaru.

Ahead of the Olympic qualifiers scheduled for April 5-13, the team have at least 22 matches in February and March.

It begins with two matches against Trinidad and Tobago in the first week of February. Trinidad and Tobago are stopping over en route to Auckland for another Olympic qualifying tournament.

The national team will leave for Australia on Feb 6 for 10 matches – five each against Queensland and New South Wales.

After their return to KL, they will then have five Test matches each against South Korea and China between Feb 24 and March 10.

“Our plan was to have at least 20 matches before going to Japan. We now have 22 and there is a chance that we may play one or two more games,” said Sarjit.

“It is a very tight schedule and the players need to stay focused on their tasks. Those who cannot cope with the physical workouts will find themselves left behind.”

In the Olympic qualifiers, Malaysia will be up against Japan, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and a team to be named as the replacement for the Czech Republic.

The tournament offers only a single ticket to Beijing.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Murali has a month before he plots juniors’ World Cup challenge

It will be a testing time for newly appointed national junior coach V. Muralidharan over the next one month as he looks into drawing up the programme for the team towards the 2009 Junior World Cup.

He begins work as the team's chief coach today and his first task is to prepare the players for an eight-nation tournament scheduled for Jan 17-27 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil here.

Muralidharan said that he would come up with a programme for the team after the tournament.

“It is still early to say what plans I have for the team. I need to look at the players I have first and the next one month will give me a clearer picture on what needs to be done. The eight-nation tournament will be a good indicator of the work we have at hand,” he said.

A total of 31 players below 19-years-old will report for training today. They were selected by the National Sports Council (NSC) development director, Paul Lissek, last week from a list of 50 players.

The German has been in charge of the team for the last one month while Muralidharan was with the squad for the recent SEA Games.

The team have friendly matches lined up for them from Jan 4-13 against an Australian junior side from New South Wales.

“We have organised seven matches against them. The team for the eight-nation meet will be selected after the friendly matches,” said Muralidharan.

The teams invited for the eight-nation meet are Germany, Australia, Holland, India, Pakistan, South Korea and New Zealand.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have given Muralidharan the task to mould the team for the 2009 Junior World Cup Finals. The former Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) coach takes over from Tai Beng Hai, who quit last month citing family matters after having handled the team for a year.

Muralidharan added that they would have to start from scratch as all the players who were in their 20s had been left out even though they were still eligible to play in the Junior Asia Cup next year, which is a qualifying tournament for the Junior World Cup Finals.

“We do not have to qualify as we are the joint hosts for the Finals with Singapore. We have thus decided that only players who qualify to play in 2009 make up our training squad. And those who were from the previous squad will form the core group of my team,” he said.

The players in the squad are also expected to go into full-time training from next year.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Malaysia have their hands full at playing hosts next year

A host of foreign national junior teams are due to make their way to Malaysia for training and friendly matches next year.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation secretary, Hashim Mohamed Yusof, said that four teams had made confirmation that they would be in KL while a few others had asked for dates to play against the Malaysian juniors.

He added that South Korea would have a two-week stint in March while dates for the visits by New Zealand, Scotland and Hong Kong were being worked out.

“Our team preparing for the Junior World Cup in 2009 will get some good practice matches in their preparation for the Junior World Cup in 2009,” saidd Hashim.

“Some other teams are also keen to play against our juniors. But we have not given them replies because we have not finalised our programmes. We are also mindful that this will affect our domestic programmes.”

Hashim added that they were preparing their calendar for 2008 and it would be finalised by the competitions committee next month.

Both the national senior and junior teams have full programmes next year.

The seniors are preparing for the Olympic qualifiers, which will be played in Japan from April 5-13. They have several matches lined up ahead of the tournament.

They have seven matches against the Queensland state team in a three-week stint in Brisbane next month. In March, there will be five Test matches against China in March. There is also a proposal for the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament to be held before June.

The juniors will start their new programme with an eight-nation tournament in Bukit Jalil from Jan 17-27. They will then go on a few tours ahead of their participation in the Junior Asia Cup in September.

Players in the team will also be involved in the Malaysia Junior Hockey League (MJHL), which is expected to start in February, and also Sukma (Malaysia Games) in June.

Malaysia are co-hosting the 2009 Junior World Cup Finals together with Singapore.

Australia to blood three rookies in South African five-nation meet

Australia have included three debutants with a view to next year’s Beijing Olympics in their squad for next month’s five-nation hockey tournament in South Africa.

National coach Barry Dancer has omitted senior players Jamie Dwyer, Brent Livermore, Bevan George and Matthew Wells from the team who finished second to Germany in the Champions Trophy in Malaysia earlier this month.

This will give an opportunity to newcomers Chris Ciriello, Daniel Hotchkis and Simon Orchard, with Dancer saying the trio have chances to be selected in the Olympic squad.

“Each of our three debutants have emerged through various AIS (Sports Institute) tours and through the AHL (Australian Hockey League) over the last few years and they all thoroughly deserve this opportunity,” said Dancer.

“They are all long-term prospects but a good performance at this tournament followed by more good hockey at the AHL will make them just as likely to be selected in the Olympic squad as anyone else.”

The team for the five-nation tournament from Jan 20-27 will have an average of 40 games played per player, compared to the 114 game average per player in the Champions Trophy squad.

“The focus of this team’s selection is to allow a broader group of players the opportunity to put their hands up for Olympic selection by performing at this tournament,” Dancer said. “At this stage we are not ruling out anyone for our Olympic squad regardless of age and experience.”



The Squad

Desmond Abbott, Kiel Brown, Nathan Burgers, Chris Ciriello, Luke Doerner, Russell Ford, David Guest, Rob Hammond, Josh Hawes, Daniel Hotchkis, Fergus Kavanagh, Mark Knowles, Daniel McPherson, Eli Matheson, Eddie Ockenden, Simon Orchard, Grant Schubert, Andrew Smith.

KL hard hit by ban on national trainees in U-21 meet

Former champions Kuala Lumpur will go into the MHF Under-21 hockey tournament with a considerably weakened side following the decision to bar the national trainees from the Dec 29-Jan 6 meet.

KL finished third in the 2005 edition and were last year’s Sukma (Malaysia Games) champions. But this time around, they will be without 10 top players and will have to rely on a lot of untested players for their title challenge.

They have eight players in the national junior training squad and two in the senior team. All of them are core players in the team. The two senior players are Mohamed Razie Abdul Rahim and Nabil Fiqri Mohamed Nor.

But KL coach K. Dharmaraj is unperturbed and feels that the ruling will also affect the other teams in the tournament.

“Yes, it will be a big blow for us. But we need to get on with it. The other states like Penang, Perak and Johor are also affected. So in a way it is good for us to look at other players so that they can gain experience,” said Dharmaraj after a training session yesterday.

He added: “There are also a number of players who are eligible to play for us in the Sukma but they will not be allowed to represent KL in the Under-21 meet.

“This is because the tournament rules on eligibility of players differ. Sukma rules allow those born outside KL but who are working in KL to play for us. But for the Under-21 meet, the MHF ruling states that the players have to play for the state where they are born.

“It is confusing as the Sukma and Under-21 meets are held alternatively. Still we will try and put up a strong challenge for the title.”

For the Under-21 tournament, Dharmaraj has the services of seven players from last year’s Sukma winning squad.

They are Mohamed Roni Risman, Ahmad Bakri Marfi, Meor Mohamed Ridzuan, Hafiz Jami, Adam Mustapha, Faisal Kamaruddin and Hafiz Zakaria.

“These seven players will form the core of the team for the Under-21 tournament. They have the experience to guide the other players. I think it is going to be a very open tournament with several teams having a shot at winning the title,” added Dharmaraj.

For Dharmaraj, this will be his debut as coach in the Under-21 meet. Earlier this year, he was in charge of the KL Under-14 and Under-16 teams. The team finished runners-up in the Under-14 meet and third in the Under-16 tournament.

“I hope to see the team make the podium again. There are a lot of potential in the squad. The only setback for us is the players’ lack of experience,” he said.

KL are in Group B with Selangor, Malacca, Johor, Perlis and Terengganu. The teams in Group A are Perak, Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, Penang and Negri Sembilan.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Jerman halangan utama hoki kita ke Olimpik 2008

Skuad hoki negara akan menempuhi beberapa perlawanan persahabatan di dalam dan luar negara dalam usaha mempertingkatkan tahap prestasi sebelum menghadapi cabaran pusingan kelayakan Olimpik Beijing, di Jepun tahun depan.

Jurulatih negara, Sarjit Singh berkata, ia melibatkan antara 15 dan 20 perlawanan persahabatan antarabangsa termasuk melibatkan dua kelab dari Australia dan pasukan kebangsaan China serta Korea Selatan.

‘‘Pemilihan tiga kelab daripada negara tersebut adalah kerana kelab-kelab tersebut mempunyai pemain bertaraf antarabangsa.

‘‘Perlawanan itu bakal menjadi medan ujian kepada pasukan negara dan mengutip sebanyak mungkin pendedahan pada perlawanan tersebut,’’ katanya kepada Utusan Malaysia, semalam pada sesi latihan pertama selepas berakhir Sukan SEA di Korat.

Katanya, pasukan hoki negara akan bertemu dua buah kelab dari Brisbane dan Sydney, Australia pada 3 Februari depan dengan melibatkan sebanyak 10 perlawanan persahabatan.

Beliau berkata, pasukan negara juga akan menerima kunjungan dari China dan Korea bermula 24 Februari hingga 7 Mac 2008.

Menurut Sarjit, hampir 12 perlawanan persahabatan akan dijalankan bagi menghadapi dua buah negara tersebut.

Menurut Sarjit, sebelum menanti perlawanan persahabatan tersebut, skuad hoki negara akan menjalani latihan fizikal di Desaru, Johor selama dua minggu.

Selepas itu katanya, beliau akan memberi penekanan kepada latihan fizikal dan ia dijangka mengambil masa hampir enam minggu.

Ditanya mengenai sasaran kelayakan di Olimpik Beijing, beliau berkata, pasukan negara menghadapi persaingan sengit kerana hanya satu pasukan sahaja yang akan dipilih untuk ke Olimpik daripada setiap kumpulan.

Katanya, pasukan negara tidak bernasib baik kerana diletakkan di bawah satu kumpulan dengan juara dunia, Jerman.

Selain itu katanya, Malaysia yang berada dalam satu kumpulan dengan tuan rumah bagi sesi kelayakan iaitu Jepun yang pasti memberi persaingan sengit kerana mempunyai kelebihan bermain di tempat sendiri di samping Poland dan Switzerland.

Jelasnya, biarpun telah berjaya menewaskan Jepun pada perlawanan sebelum ini pada Piala Asia di India dengan jaringan 2-0 dan 5-3, pasukan negara tidak boleh mendabik dada daripada keputusan tersebut.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Muraleedharan to appraise juniors in friendly games

The final squad of 18 players for the eight-nation junior hockey tournament starting on Jan 17 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil will be named after the seven friendly matches against the New South Wales team.

V. Muraleedharan, who was appointed as the new national junior coach last week, said that there are 31 players in training currently.

“The first friendly match is on Jan 3 and we have to name the team a few days before the tournament begins on Jan 17,” said Muraleedharan, who will be assisted by Gurmit Singh.

The other teams in the fray are 2005 Junior World Cup runners-up Australia, India, Holland, Germany, Pakistan, South Korea and New Zealand. All the teams featured in the 2005 Junior World Cup in Rotterdam except for New Zealand.

The eight-nation meet is organised by Malaysia Hockey Federation (MHF) as part of the preparations for the 2009 Junior World Cup, which will be jointly organised by the MHF and Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF).

Both Malaysia and Singapore qualify automatically for the 2009 Finals as the hosts.

Muraleedharan replaced Tai Beng Hai, who quit as the juniors’ coach in October after a series of poor results by the national juniors in international tournaments.

Meanwhile, MHF secretary Hashim Mohd Yusoff said yesterday that the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) will begin in the first week of February.

“We will have two divisions and the closing date for entries will be the middle of next month,” said Hashim.

Amin prepared to serve country

Ex-international Mohd Amin Rahim is more than willing to rejoin the national team to help improve the penalty corner conversions for the Olympic qualifiers in Japan in April.

Defender Amin, who will turn 28 next month, said that he is honoured to receive the national call-up after being axed from the Malaysian team after last December's Asian Games in Doha.

“I thought I would never play for the country again. But because there is no good penalty corner flicker in the team, I was called up.

“National coach Sarjit (Singh) approached me before the start of the Champions Trophy last month saying that he wants me to join the national team to beef up the penalty corner conversions,'' said Amin, who will join the national team in training at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil tomorrow.

The national team did not have the services of drag penalty corner flicker Zulkifli Rejab in the Champions Trophy because of a knee injury.

Zulkifli, who went for an operation, will be out of action for a year.

Two other penalty corner flickers – defender Baljit Singh Sarjab and midfielder Jiwa Mohan – failed to score a single goal from penalty corners in the Champions Trophy.

Malaysia played eight matches in the tournament and only managed to score only one penalty corner goal and that too off a set-piece by forward Chua Boon Huat.

Amin was the top scorer for the national team in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games last year. He scored six goals and guided the team to bag the bronze in the Games.

Amin, who has scored 40 goals in 109 international matches, said that despite being out of the national team for a year, he still can flick well from penalty corners.

“I featured for Tenaga Nasional in the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League) and scored 10 goals. I only need to sharpen up.

“However, I need to improve my fitness level as playing in international matches demand a higher fitness level than playing in the domestic league,'' said Amin.

Despite playing in the MHL, he also featured in the Asian Indoor Games for the Sapura team in Macau in October.

Amin, the father of a six-year-old boy, said that he hopes to impress Sarjit in training to win a place for the playing tour to Australia in February.

Malaysia will play nine matches with Queensland and New South Wales in Brisbane and Sydney as part of their preparation for the Olympic qualifiers.

Besides Malaysia, the other teams in the qualifiers are world champions Germany, Japan, Poland, Switzerland and another team that will be named later.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Amin recalled to improve on poor penalty corner conversion rate

Former international Mohd Amin Rahim has been recalled to join the national hockey training squad to improve on the penalty corner conversion for the Olympic qualifiers in Japan in April.

The Selangor defender, who was dropped after their failure in the Doha Asian Games last December, will join the team in training on Friday.

National coach Sarjit Singh said that he had to recall the penalty corner flicker after the poor penalty corner conversion rate in the recent Champions Trophy at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Amin: Dropped after the Asian Games in Doha last year.
Malaysia played eight matches in the Champion Trophy and only managed to score one penalty corner goal.

Sarjit said that in the absence of the injured Zulkifli Rejab, they had banked on defender Baljit Singh Sarjab and midfielder Jiwa Mohan to deliver the goals from penalty corners but both failed miserably.

“We only managed to score one goal and that too off a set-piece by Chua (Boon Huat) in the tournament.

“We need a good penalty corner flicker to help us win the qualifiers and qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

“Amin has a good conversion rate and his presence in the team will definitely boost the team. However, his inclusion in the final team will depend on his fitness level and his ability to deliver direct goals from his flicks in training,” said Sarjit.

Amin was a member of the Malaysian team that bagged the Melbourne Commonwealth Games bronze medal. He scored six goals in the Games and was the top scorer for the national team.

Since being dropped, he has featured in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) and scored regularly for Tenaga Nasional.

Earlier, the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) had called up former captain and penalty corner specialist S. Kuhan to the team for the qualifiers.

Kuhan, who was also dropped after the Doha Asiad, played in the Korat SEA Games and guided the team to the gold medal.

“With Amin and Kuhan back in the team, I hope our penalty corner conversions will improve.

“I have 32 players in the training squad and if both of them do well in training they will get to go for a playing tour to Australia in February,” said Sarjit.

He added that the team would play nine matches with the New South Wales and Queensland teams in Brisbane and Sydney respectively.

“We will also play five friendly matches with Asian Games champions South Korea here in March in preparation for the qualifiers.”

Monday, December 17, 2007

Seven top 10 junior teams to compete in Bukit Jalil

Seven teams ranked in the top 10 in the world junior rankings have confirmed their participation in the Eight-Nation Junior International Invitational hockey tournament, which will be held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Jan 17-27.

The seven are 2005 Junior World Cup runners-up Australia, India (fourth), Holland (fifth), Germany (sixth), Pakistan (seventh), South Korea (eighth) and hosts Malaysia (10th).

New Zealand, who did not play in the 2005 Junior World Cup, are also in the fray.

The junior meet is being organised by the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) as part of the team’s preparation for the 2009 Junior World Cup, which will be jointly organised by the MHF and the Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF).

MHF secretary Hashim Mohamed Yusof said yesterday that the quality of the matches would be high as the best junior teams are taking part.

“We will follow the same format that we used in the recent Champions Trophy. The teams will play in a round robin format in the preliminary round and then compete in the classification matches to determine their final positions.

“That way they will get to play eight quality matches.

“All the matches will be held in the evening and two pitches will be used.

“The fixtures have been drawn up and it will be released as soon as the International Hockey Federation (FIH) have ratified it.

“Although this is an invitational event we have sought sanction from the FIH. That is why we have asked for the FIH to ratify the fixtures,” said Hashim.

Next year will be an important year for the junior teams as all the continental competitions will be a qualifying event for the Junior World Cup.

Malaysia and Singapore have been given automatic berths to the 2009 Finals.

The field for the Finals has been increased from 16 to 20. The other 18 teams will come from the various continental tournaments. The FIH will release the number of teams that will qualify from each continent.

For the last Junior World Cup, Europe had six places while Asia had four. Pan American was given three places while Africa received two places and Oceania was given one spot.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

12 teams for U21 meet

Twelve teams will take part in the MHF Under-21 hockey championships which will be held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Dec 29-Jan 6.

They are defending champions Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, Negri Sembilan, Penang, Perlis, Perak and Malacca. The teams not taking part are Police, Armed Forces, Sabah and Sarawak.

Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary Hashim Mohamed Yusof said Sunday that the format will be a two pool matches for the preliminary round with the top two teams qualifying for the semi-finals.

“The tournament will be held over nine days and it is better we play a two pool format. That way the teams will get to play more matches.

“The MHF are the organisers and all the matches will be held on Pitch I at the national Hockey Stadium,” he said.

The tournament was supposed to have been held earlier in the year but was postponed numerous times due to other domestic and international fixtures.

Hockey Earns Two Golds

Hockey earns two golds, but Sarjit is not happy with display.

THE Malaysian men’s and women’s hockey teams continue to remain unshakeable in the SEA Games.

In the finals at the Queen Sirikit Sports Centre yesterday, the men’s team gave Singapore a 7-0 hockey lesson while the women did the same to Thailand, handing the hosts a 0-6 defeat.

Despite the big win by the men, national coach Sarjit Singh was still not satisfied with their overall performance.

“Malaysia are the regional hockey powerhouse. A lot still needs to be done for us to be a world powerhouse,” said Sarjit.

Women’s team manager Malarvani Annamalai said the two-week training stint the girls underwent in India before the Games helped tremendously in their quest for glory.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

ASEAN Sea Games Korat, Thai

Hoki hampiri dua emas

Malaysia berada pada kedudukan selesa untuk memenangi dua pingat emas hoki Sukan SEA ke-24 apabila pasukan wanita dan lelaki layak ke akhir seperti yang dijangka.

Pasukan lelaki Malaysia akan bertemu Singapura pada perlawanan akhir esok manakala pasukan wanita bertemu Thailand.

Pasukan lelaki melengkapkan aksi pusingan awal dengan membelasah Thailand 8-1 manakala Singapura, yang seri 1-1 dengan Thailand, menewaskan Myanmar 6-0.

Sebelum itu, Malaysia yang menurunkan pasukan kedua menundukkan Myanmar 8-0 dan Singapura 7-1.

Gol Malaysia dijaringkan G. Sasitheran (minit pertama dan 10), Muhammad Abdul Aziz (28, 54), Muhammad Razie Rahim (34, 49), S. Kuhan (57) dan K. Keevan Raj (65) manakala gol tuan rumah dijaringkan Thammuangkun Surasak pada minit ke-64.

Pengurus pasukan Shurizan Mansor berkata, Malaysia sepatutnya tiada masalah untuk menang emas dan pasukan kini mendapatkan khidmat Baljit Singh Sarjab, Nabil Fiqri Mohd. Noor dan Khairul Nizam Ibrahim yang menyertai pasukan selepas beraksi pada Trofi Juara-juara di Kuala Lumpur.

Pasukan wanita pula yang menumpaskan Singapura 5-0 pada perlawanan pembukaan, menamatkan pusingan awal melibatkan tiga pasukan dengan kemenangan 1-0 ke atas Thailand.

Thailand layak ke perlawanan akhir dengan kelebihan perbezaan gol. Kedua-dua pasukan sebelum ini seri 1-1.

Malaysia move up one rung to 14th in ranking

Malaysia’s eighth place finish in the recent Samsung Champions Trophy hockey tournament moved them up a rung to 14th in the FIH world-ranking list.

In August, Malaysia were ranked 16th. After winning the bronze medal in the Asia Cup in September, they went up to 15th.

Two-time world champions Germany reclaimed the top spot in the ranking after their triumph over Australia in the Champions Trophy final. The Germans carved out a 1-0 win in the final played at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil last Sunday.

The Australians are in second place followed by Holland and Spain in third and fourth places respectively. England move up, pushing India out of eighth spot to ninth.

The next major event in the FIH calendar is the Olympic qualifiers, which will take place in New Zealand, Chile and Japan.

This will be held from February to April.

A total of 18 teams placed in three groups of six teams each are involved and only the group winners will make the cut to the Beijing Olympics.

Malaysia will play in Japan along with the hosts, Germany, Switzerland, Poland and another team, which will be named later.

The FIH ranking list will be used as a guide to seed the teams in the Beijing Olympics.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

ASEAN Sea Games Korat, Thai

FORMER skipper S. Kuhan marked his return to the national hockey team by scoring a brace to help Malaysia thrash Myanmar 8-0 in their opening match at the Queen Sirikit Sports Centre in Pathumthani, Bangkok, yesterday.

The penalty corner specialist, who was dropped after the Doha Asian Games, opened accounts for Malaysia by converting a penalty in the third minute.

It took Malaysia’s second stringers another 19 minutes to double the lead when Kuhan scored from the penalty corner.

Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi made it 3-0 in the 28th minute before Mohd Riduan Nasir gave Malaysia a 4-0 half-time lead with a field goal four minutes later.

Myanmar nearly pulled one back but skipper Then Htay’s penalty stroke was saved by goalkeeper Khairulnizam Ibrahim in the 39th minute.

Malaysia’s other goals were scored by Mohd Sufian Mohd (46th and 50th) Mohd Amerrul Aziz (47th) and G. Sasitheran (64th).

Malaysia have lost the gold medal only once in the 1973 Games in Singapore.

Thailand and Singapore are the other teams in the competition, which is being played in a round-robin format.

Assistant coach V. Muraleedharan said the opening match was a good warm-up before they play Singapore today.

Samsung Champions Trophy 2007

Fixtures and Result
for Sunday 9 December

12:35 PAK : MAS 3:2 (7th & 8th place)

15:05 ESP : GBR 4:2 (5th & 6th place)

18:35 NED : KOR 3:2 (3rd & 4th place)

20:05 GER : AUS 1:0 (1st & 2nd place)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Samsung Champions Trophy 2007

Fixtures and Result
for Saturday 8 December

16:05 MAS : ESP 2:7

18:05 NED : PAK 2:2

18:35 GBR : KOR 4:1

20:05 AUS : GER 5:0

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Samsung Champions Trophy 2007

Fixtures and Result
for Thursday 6 December

16:05 AUS : NED 3:3

18:05 PAK : KOR 3:3

18:35 ESP : GBR 5:0

20:05 GER : MAS 3:2

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Samsung Champions Trophy 2007

Fixtures and Result
for Wednesday 5 December

16:05 GBR : PAK 4:1

18:05 NED : GER 3:3

18:35 AUS : ESP 2:3

20:05 MAS : KOR 2:3

Samsung Champions Trophy 2007

Fixtures and Result
for Monday 3 December

16:05 NED : KOR 2:6

18:05 AUS : GBR 1:0

18:35 GER : ESP 4:1

20:05 PAK : MAS 2:2

Samsung Champions Trophy 2007

More info, visit the official site for
Samsung Champions Throphy 2007.
click here

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Samsung Champions Trophy 2007

Fixtures and Result
for Sunday 2 December

16:05 ESP : NED 3:3

18:05 MAS : GBR 2:3

18:35 GER : KOR 2:1

20:05 PAK : AUS 1:2

Samsung Champions Trophy 2007

Fixtures and Result
for Friday 30 November

16:05 PAK : ESP 2:0

18:05 NED : MAS 3:1

18:35 GBR : GER 0:4

20:05 AUS : KOR 0:1

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Samsung Champions Trophy 2007

Fixtures and Result
for Thursday 29 November

16:05 GBR : NED 0:4

18:05 GER : PAK 5:2

18:35 KOR : ESP 2:2

20:05 MAS : AUS 0:2

Dutch on spying mission at Champions Trophy

Defending champions Holland will use the Samsung Champions Trophy hockey tournament scheduled for Nov 29-Dec 9 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil to gather information on their rivals ahead of the Beijing Olympics next year.

Team manager Robert van Maasakker said yesterday that winning the tournament would not be their priority.

“It is more important for us to gather data on our opponents and also to test our players fully so that our preparations will be complete before we head to Beijing,” he said.

Holland, who have won Olympic gold twice in 1996 and 2000, qualified for the Beijing Games as winners of the European Championships earlier this year. Their coach of the 2000-winning team Roelant Altmans is back at the helm.

Van Maasakker added that the tournament in Kuala Lumpur would be tough as they had to play eight matches in a space of 11 days.

“But we are happy that we will get top quality matches. It's hot and humid here and the rule allowing teams to register 18 players for a match is good,” he said.

Van Maasakker pointed to the fact that top teams would get to play in two Champions Trophy tournaments before either the Olympics or the World Cup.

“Usually, there is one. But we now have one in KL and another in Holland in June. The Olympics will be held in August. We are not complaining ... the top teams will certainly benefit from them,” he said.

The Dutch have made four changes to the team who won the European Championship. The youngsters coming into the team are Jeroen Hertzberger (21), Quiryn Casper (20), Wouter Hermkwens (21) and Klass Vwemeullen (20).

Holland will open their campaign against Britain on Nov 29 followed by matches against Malaysia, Spain, South Korea, Germany, Australia and Pakistan. Their opponents who have yet to qualify for the Olympics are Germany, Britain and Malaysia.

Free admission for Champions Trophy

Samsung Champions Trophy tournament will be played
at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Nov 29-Dec 9.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Asia Cup squad to head challenge at Champions Trophy

Sixteen players from the bronze medal-winning side at the Asia Cup in August have retained their places in the national team for the Samsung Champions Trophy hockey tournament, which will be played at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Nov 20-Dec 9.

But defender Zulkifli Rejab, who is down with a leg injury, was left out of the squad of 20 named by the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) selection committee yesterday.


Out: Defender Zulkifli Rejab left out due to injury.
And the committee in their meeting, which was chaired by the MHF deputy president, Tunku Abdul Majid Idris, decided against naming two additional players.

Midfielder Nabil Fiqri Mohamed Nor is the replacement for Zulkifli. Forwards Hafifihafiz Hanafi and Mohamed Razie Abdul Rahim also made the grade. Nabil and Razie were dropped from the team to the Asia Cup. Hafifihafiz was also not among the final 18 but made the trip to India.

Goalkeeper Khairulnizam Ibrahim, who did not play in the Asia Cup due to illness, is back in the team – replacing Mohamed Hanafi Hassan.

National coach Sarjit Singh said that those not in the final 20 will continue to train with the team for the Champions Trophy.

“The final squad will focus more on set plays. We also have four practice matches line up against China and Canada. These matches will allow us to fine tune the moves before our opening match against Australia on Nov 29,” he said.

“The rest will be doing a lot of physical workouts and we will name the team for the SEA Games later.”

Sarjit added that Zulkifli would remain in the training squad and undergo treatment.

The Champions Trophy is part of the national team's preparations for the Olympic qualifiers in Japan next year.

Besides Australia, the other opponents for Malaysia are Germany, Holland, Spain, South Korea, Pakistan and Britain.

Malaysia are playing in the top flight tournament by virtue of being the hosts. Pakistan were to be the host but the international federation (FIH) withdrew the tournament from them because of security reasons.

“We will get quality matches. With a round-robin format and a classification match, we are assured of at least eight quality matches,” said Sarjit.

Of the eight teams in the fray, three have yet to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. They are two-time world champions Germany, Malaysia and Britain.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Johor sedia jadi tuan rumah

Johor bersedia untuk menggalas tanggungjawab menjadi tuan rumah bersama Singapura untuk Kejohanan Piala Dunia Hoki Bawah 19 pada tahun 2009.

Menteri Besar Johor, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman berkata, buat ketika ini, kerja-kerja pembinaan stadium hoki yang baru di Taman Daya sedang berjalan lancar.

Katanya lagi, pihaknya turut merancang untuk membina sebuah stadium hoki baru dengan kapasiti 5,000 penonton di Padang Sri Gelam bagi menjayakan kejohanan yang akan berlangsung dua tahun lagi itu.

“Kami akan membangunkan stadium yang lebih lengkap sebagaimana Stadium Hoki Azlan Shah di Ipoh.

“Padangnya juga akan lebih berkualiti dengan ia mirip kepada padang hoki astroturf di Australia,” katanya pada sidang akhbar di Jamuan Aidilfitri anjuran Danga Bay Sdn. Bhd. di Teluk Danga di sini semalam.

Menurut Abdul Ghani, peruntukan bagi pembinaan stadium hoki di Taman Daya yang dijangka selesai tahun hadapan itu mendapat pembiayaan daripada syarikat pemaju yang kini mengambil alih Stadium Hoki Majlis Bandaraya Johor Bahru di Jalan Tun Razak.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2010 Men’s Hockey World Cup to be staged in New Delhi

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced during a special press conference on Wednesday that FIH’s premier event, the 12th Men’s Hockey World Cup, played by the 12 top nations, will in principle be staged in New Delhi over two weeks in February 2010 at the Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium.

The Hockey World Cup was first held in Barcelona, Spain in 1971, when Pakistan won the title. Since then the event has travelled to nine countries and seen five different winners hold the Cup aloft. India hosted the Men’s Hockey World Cup in 1982 in Mumbai.

The 2010 Hockey World Cup will be a joint venture between FIH and the Indian Hockey Confederation (IHC) and is a result of the ‘Project Promoting Indian Hockey’, a new initiative between the FIH and the IHC, aimed to return Indian Hockey, men and women, to the world’s highest level. The World Cup Governing Board was also announced with former Dutch International AndrĂ© Bolhuis as Chairman. K Jothikumaran is appointed as interim Chair of the Organizing Committee.

Final confirmation of the decision to stage the Hockey World Cup in 2010 will be taken in March 2008 and will depend upon achievement of set targets both in relation to the Project and the organization of the World Cup.

‘This is a special day for the FIH and Indian Hockey’, FIH President Els van Breda Vriesman said. ‘We are delighted to be back in India with the World Cup for the first time since 1982. The improvement of Indian Hockey is critical for the sport’s future, both in India and internationally.’

‘It is our great wish that the IHC demonstrates the commitment and passion to deliver this landmark event. The Hockey World Cup is the FIH’s highest profile event. It is our goal that the 2010 World Cup will be the most successful event in the history of hockey – that is the challenge we have set ourselves’, the FIH President said.

‘The IHC is extremely pleased that the FIH decided to entrust the organization of the World Cup to India’, IHC President KPS Gill stated. ‘It is a great honor for the country and we must now work with diligence and spirit to repay the faith that has been shown in Indian Hockey. The IHC is fully committed to the Project and to the success of the World Cup. We will do our utmost to meet the expectations of the world governing body to ensure the event is a success and also the expectations of the Indian sporting public to witness the return of our team to the podium in a major event.’

Great Britain names squad for Samsung Champions Trophy

Great Britain Head Coach Jason Lee has selected his 20 players to participate in the Samsung Champions Trophy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 29 November – 9 December 2007.

Lee is looking forward to the challenge the Samsung Champions Trophy presents playing against the best teams in the world. ‘8 games in 11 days will certainly test the mental and physical capabilities of this group’, he said. ‘However they have worked hard and I believe they will cope well.’

‘We are hoping to see the hard work of the past month pay dividends and the tournament will provide us we a great deal of information before we travel to South Africa in January to continue our preparation for the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Chile.’

There are 4 new caps named in the squad.

The FIH have agreed for this tournament only, participating teams can select 20 players and name 18 players for each game, this is due to the extreme conditions expected in Kuala Lumpur and with the number of games in such a short period of time.

Great Britain will travel on 17 November and will spend that time training and playing three warm up games against Canada on 22 and 23 November and Germany on 27 November.

Selection Great Britain:

Richard Alexander, Jon Bleby, Jonty Clarke, Matt Daly, Stephen Dick, James Fair, Brett Garrard, Ben Hawes, Ashley Jackson, Glenn Kirkham, Richard Mantell, Simon Mantell, Ben Marsden, Alistair McGregor, Barry Middleton, Graham Moodie, Rob Moore, Mark Ralph, James Tindall, Alastair Wilson.

George Pinner will travel with the team to train with the squad before returning home on the 29th November.

Source: Great Britain Hockey ltd.

PHF names squad for Samsung Champions Trophy

Goalkeeper Salman Akbar will lead Pakistan in the forthcoming Samsung Champions Trophy to be held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 29 November until 9 December. Forward Rehan Butt who had led the team in Asia Cup at Chennai this year was dropped and at the same time chief coach Islahuddin Siddiqui was replaced by national chief selector former Olympian Zakauddin as chief coach and team manager. Islah’s replacement came in the wake of his foot injury which the chief coach had sustained during a training session last week.

However, PHF has made it clear that Islah will resume his national duty as chief coach after the Samsung Champions Trophy.

Pakistan team members:

Salman Akbar (captain), Zeeshan Ashraf (V.Captain), Muhammad Imran, Imran Khan, Adnan Maqsood, Dilawar Hussain, Waqas Sharif, Waqas Akbar, Shakeel Abbasi, Muhammad Arshad, Haider Abbas, Nasir Ahmed, Kashif Ali, Ghazanfar Ali, Muhammad Inayat Ullah, Akhtar Ali, Shabbir Khan, Anwar Sajjad, Muhammad Kamran, Muhammad Afzal.

Team manager: Zakauddin. Coach: Manzoor-ul-Hassan

Source: PHF

Selection Netherlands for Samsung Champions Trophy

Dutch national team coach released the names of the 20 players who will participate in the Samsung Champions Trophy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 29 November until 9 December 2007. Like most of the coaches, Oltmans also decided to take 20 players with him to the event in Malaysia.

Team Netherlands

Guus Vogels (GK), Jaap Stockmann (GK), Taeke Taekema, Robert van der Horst, Thomas Boerma, Geert-Jan Derikx, Wouter Jolie, Wouter Hermkens, Jeroen Delmee, Teun de Nooijer, Timme Hoyng, Eby Kessing, Floris Evers, Laurence Docherty, Rob Reckers, Matthijs Brouwer, Ronald Brouwer, Quirijn Caspers, Jeroen Hertzberger, Rogier Hofman.

Source: KNHB

Free admission for Champions Trophy

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian hockey fans are in for a treat. There will be no admission fee to matches in the Samsung Champions Trophy tournament, which will be played at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Nov 29-Dec 9.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) president, Tan Sri Anwar Mohd Nor, made this announcement at the launch of the tournament website and sponsorship cheque presentation at the Palace of the Golden Horses here yesterday.

“We want to encourage fans to watch high-level hockey played by the eight top teams in the world,” said Anwar.

He added that it would defeat the purpose if such fare were to be played in an empty stadium and they would get students of several schools and employees of government agencies in the Klang Valley to attend the matches.

“We will also provide transport for some of the schoolchildren and we hope that we can at least get half the stadium filled. We have found it difficult in the past to fill the stadium unless it is the semi-finals or final,” said Anwar.

He added that fans outside the Klang Valley could also follow the matches live on the website (www.championstrophy2007.com) and television.

The tournament features eight teams – defending champions Holland, world champions Germany, Olympic champions Australia, Spain, South Korea, Britain, Pakistan and Malaysia.

The tournament will be played in a round-robin format with the top two finishers qualifying for the final.

Britain will play against Holland in the opening match.

The other matches on the opening day are: Germany vs Pakistan, South Korea vs Spain and Malaysia vs Australia. Malaysia are the lowest ranked team at number 15 in the world.

On the hosting of the tournament on a short three-month notice, Anwar said that it would not have been possible if not for their sponsors.

“A tourney of this magnitude would not be possible unless we have strong partners,” he said of the RM1 million budget needed to host it.

Australia ujian pertama -- Hoki Trofi Juara-Juara

KUALA LUMPUR - Skuad hoki negara membuka kempen Trofi Juara-Juara di Stadium Hoki Nasional, Bukit Jalil dengan menentang juara Olimpik, Australia pada 29 November ini.

Ini akan diikuti perlawanan kedua menentang juara bertahan, Belanda pada 30 November ini sebelum menentang juara dunia, Jerman pada 6 Disember ini.

Sebagai pasukan yang menyertai pertandingan ini atas tiket sebagai tuan rumah `bidan terjun’, skuad muda Malaysia yang dibimbing Sarjit Singh pastinya menjadikan kejohanan ini sebagai persiapan menghadapi pusingan kelayakan Olimpik pada April tahun depan.

“Kita akan turun sebagai pasukan underdog memandangkan tujuh pasukan lain yang menyertainya adalah yang terbaik di dunia ketika ini.

“Kita tidak meletakkan sebarang sasaran kerana kita perlu realistik memandangkan Malaysia berada pada ranking ke-13 dunia ketika ini.

“Cuma matlamat kita adalah ambil bahagian dan mempamerkan persembahan terbaik untuk menyaingi pasukan handalan dunia,” kata Presiden PHM, Tan Sri Anwar Mohd. Nor, semalam.

Menurutnya, Malaysia akan turun berbekalkan reputasi sebagai finalis Piala Sultan Azlan Shah dan tempat ketiga Piala Asia.

“Ini adalah pendedahan terbaik kepada pemain muda kita untuk bermain dengan pemain dan pasukan terbaik dunia,” tegasnya.

Sementara itu, Sarjit berkata, barisan pemain skuad negara akan diumumkan tidak lama lagi kerana ketika ini pemilihan masih dijalankan.

“Kita ada 30 pemain untuk menghadapi Trofi Juara-Juara ini. Hanya 18 pemain akan disenaraikan,” tegasnya.

Selain Malaysia, tujuh negara yang layak secara merit menyertai trofi juara-juara ini adalah Belanda, Australia, Jerman, Korea Selatan, Pakistan, Sepanyol dan England.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Piala Razak di Kuantan

Kuantan, Pahang dipilih sebagai tuan rumah kejohanan hoki Piala Razak dari 26 Oktober hingga 4 November ini sebagai merayakan ulang tahun keputeraan Sultan Pahang dan bukan lagi di ibu kota seperti yang dijadualkan sebelumnya.

Sumber Persekutuan Hoki Malaysia (PHM) berkata, dua gelanggang berumput polygrass di Stadium Hoki Sukpa dan Kompleks Sukan Bandar Indera Mahkota akan digunakan bagi kejohanan 10 hari itu sekali gus menggantikan Stadium Hoki Nasional, Bukit Jalil.

Beberapa minggu lalu, gelanggang di Kuantan didapati tidak memenuhi syarat pertandingan tetapi pemeriksaan sejak Isnin lalu oleh dua pegawai berpengalaman, Datuk G. Vijiyanathan dan C. Paramalingam memberikan kelulusan untuk melangsungkan Piala Razak di situ.

Kejohanan kali ini turut mengundang Singapura, Brunei, Thailand dan Indonesia yang berpeluang menjadikannya persediaan ke Sukan SEA Korat, Disember ini apabila hoki dipertandingkan semula sejak 2001.

Piala Razak tahun lalu berlangsung di Johor Bahru dengan Johor merangkul gelaran Bahagian Satu dengan menewaskan Melaka 5-1 sementara Perak membenam Selangor 4-0 sebagai juara Bahagian Dua.

Monday, October 8, 2007

National players not allowed to play in Razak Cup

The national players will not be released for the Razak Cup tournament which will be held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Oct 26 to Nov 4.

The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tan Sri Anwar Mohd Nor, said they have decided not to release the national players for the tournament because their fitness level would drop.

“We have learnt from past experience. The 30 players in the training squad would concentrate on preparing for the Champions Trophy which will be held from Nov 29 to Dec 9 in Kuala Lumpur.

“Our priority is the Champions Trophy which is part of the preparation for next year’s Olympic qualifier,” said Anwar.

The other teams in the fray for the Champions Trophy are Olympic champions Australia, world champions Germany, Holland, Spain, South Korea, Pakistan and Britain.

National coach Sarjit Singh said that the national team would go for a one-week mental training stint in Kuching from Oct 25- 31.

“The national players need mental strength to put up a strong challenge in the tournament. Physiologist Frederick Tan will conduct the mental training,” said Sarjit, who guided the national team to win the first ever bronze medal in the recent Asia Cup in Chennai.

Sarjit said that he would also focus more on the fitness level, which was not up to the mark in the Asia Cup.

“The players need to be extremely fit to put up a strong challenge. Besides that we will be facing teams who are much stronger and ranked higher than us.

“We will start training twice a day from tomorrow to improve the fitness level,” said Sarjit.

Sarjit added that they need an all rounder who can play well and at the same time deliver penalty corner goals in the tournament.

“In the Asia Cup our penalty corner conversion rate was not that good. We only managed to score 10 penalty corner goals from the total of 32 we scored in the tournament.

“Defender Zulkifli (Rejab) is good with his penalty corner flicks but cannot sustain his form for the entire match. Another defender Baljit (Singh) has shown progress in his game but needs to improve his penalty corner flicks,” said Sarjit.

Sarjit added that his other options for taking penalty corners are midfielders Jiwa Mohan and Mohd Suffian Mohamed.

“Suffian, however, needs to improve his game if he hopes to win a place in the tournament,” said Sarjit.

Sarjit added that 18 players would be named for the Champions Trophy while the remaining 12 would be named for the Korat SEA Games squad.

“Although 16 players need to be registered for the SEA Games, the remaining four will come from the Champions Trophy squad. The four might join the players in Korat after the Champions Trophy,” said Sarjit.

Coach Sarjit cool over having Germany in Olympic qualifiers

The Malaysian men’s hockey team face a mammoth task in qualifying for next year’s Beijing Olympics, having been drawn with world champions Germany in the men’s qualifying tournament in Kakamigahara, Japan, from April 5-13 next year.

The other teams in the fray are Japan, the Czech Republic, Poland and Switzerland. Only the champions will qualify for Beijing.

National coach Sarjit Singh, however, is unperturbed by world number two Germany’s presence.

“Germany were favourites to beat Belgium in the third playoff in the European Championships last month to qualify for the Olympics. But Belgium surprised Germany to qualify for the Olympics.

“Our mission in Japan is to qualify for the final and we will go all out to achieve it. In the final anything can happen,” said Sarjit. “The players are in high spirits after winning their first-ever bronze in the Asia Cup in Chennai last week. We are leaving no stone unturned in our quest to give our best in the qualifiers.”

Meanwhile, eight-time Olympic champions India are drawn with Britain, Austria, Bangladesh, Chile, and Egypt in the qualifiers in Santiago, Chile, from March 1-9.

The third qualifying tournament is in Auckland from Feb 2-10. It will feature Argentina, Cuba, France, Ireland, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago.

The winners of the three qualifiers will join the nine teams who have already assured their place in the 12-nation Olympic competition.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Malaysia hos Trofi Juara-juara

KUALA LUMPUR – Persekutuan Hoki Antarabangsa (FIH) semalam memutuskan Malaysia sebagai tuan rumah baru Trofi Juara-juara (lelaki) dari 29 November hingga 9 Disember ini selepas memindahkannya dari Lahore, Pakistan atas sebab keselamatan pada 12 September lalu.

Presiden FIH, Els van Breda Vriesman berkata dalam laman web rasmi, kejohanan itu akan dilangsungkan di Stadium Hoki Nasional, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

Trofi Juara-juara kali ini turut disertai lapan pasukan yang bersaing satu kumpulan berbanding enam sebelumnya. Malaysia pernah menjadi tuan rumahnya pada 1993.

Enam pasukan asal kejohanan ini iaitu Australia, Jerman, Korea Selatan, Belanda, Pakistan dan Sepanyol, dikekalkan dan akan disertai oleh Malaysia dan Great Britain.

Kata Vriesman, FIH tetap mengundang Pakistan demi menebus pembatalan hak tuan rumah mereka manakala Great Britain dipilih kerana pencapaiannya di tangga kelima Piala Dunia 2006 dan Malaysia layak automatik selaku tuan rumah.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Allocation of Teams for Olympic Qualification Tournaments

Despite some surprising results in the Oceania Cup, which was the last Continental tournament for direct Olympic qualification, hockey giant Australia’s women’s team will join their men’s team in Beijing next year in a quest for gold medals.

After the Oceania Cup, nine of the 12 Olympic participants for both the men’s and the women’s hockey tournament are now finalized:

Men: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Korea, Netherlands, Pakistan, South Africa, Spain.

Women: Argentina, Australia, China, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa.

Furthermore, the FIH is pleased to release the details of the Olympic qualifying tournaments to be played early 2008.

Men:

North Shore City, Auckland, New Zealand – 02/10 February 2008
Argentina, Cuba, France, Ireland, New Zealand and Trinidad & Tobago

Santiago, Chile – 01/09 March 2008
Austria, Bangladesh, Chile, Egypt, Great Britain and India

Kakamigahara, Japan – 05/13 April 2008
Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, Switzerland

The reserve nations for the tournaments (in order) are:
(1) Netherlands Antilles (2) USA (3) Mexico

Women:

Baku, Azerbaijan – 12/20 April 2008
Azerbaijan, Belarus, Chile, Kenya, Spain and Ukraine

Kazan, Russia – 19/27 April 2008
Belgium, Chinese Taipei, India, Netherlands Antilles, Russia and USA

Victoria, Canada – 26 April/04 May 2008
Canada, Cuba, Ireland, Italy, Korea and Malaysia

The reserve nations for these tournaments (in order) are:
(1) France (2) Uruguay (3) Barbados

The FIH will now request the National Associations and National Olympic Committees of all teams qualified for both the Olympic Games and the WorldHockey Olympic Qualifiers to confirm their participation. In the event that a nation does not accept the invitation to participate in a qualifier, it will be replaced directly by the reserve nations in order of world ranking.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mixed results for our juniors in playing tour Down Under

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian junior hockey team have won once and lost twice in their five-match playing tour against the Australian juniors in Queensland, Australia.

Malaysia took the lead in the first match but went down 1-4 on Wednesday.

However, they bounced back to win the next match 3-2 on Thursday.

In the third match yesterday, the national juniors were outplayed 5-0 because most of the players are fasting.

National junior coach Tai Beng Hai said in a telephone interview from Queensland yesterday that out of the 20 players, only forward Harwinder Singh is not fasting.

“The first two days of fasting took its toll on the players as we lost out in every department.

“We are in Australia without six 20-year-old players because we want to expose the Under-19 players, who are preparing for the 2009 Junior World Cup,'' said Beng Hai, who is assisted by Gurmit Singh.

Beng Hai added that they would be playing their next two matches in Buderim, where the Oceania Cup will be held.

Hosts Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are involved in the Oceania Cup, with the champions earning an automatic berth to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Australia, the Olympic champions, are favourites to win the tournament and New Zealand are most likely to finish runners-up and will go through the Olympic qualifier.

Malaysia might be drawn in the same group with the Kiwis in the qualifier.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have sent national coach Sarjit Singh, who guided Malaysia to their first ever bronze medal in the Asia Cup in Chennai on Sunday, to Australia to watch the Oceania Cup with former national coach Paul Lissek.

Beng Hai said after the Australian playing tour they would go to South Korea later this month for more friendly matches.

“We are using the two playing tours to Australia and Korea to prepare for the Singapore International Invitational meet next month,'' said Beng Hai.

The other teams in that tournament are hosts Singapore, Australia, India, Pakistan and Taiwan.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Malaysia keen to host Champions Trophy

KUALA LUMPUR: The International Hockey Federation (IHF) have decided to move the men’s Champions Trophy tournament away from Lahore, Pakistan, due to safety reasons.

And the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) are keen to host the tournament, scheduled for Dec 1-9.

Olympic champions Australia and Spain, who have qualified for the tournament, informed the FIH that they would not be able to participate due to security reasons. Germany, South Korea and Holland also did not confirm their entry.

Reserve countries England and Japan also declined the invitation. With six of the best eight hockey teams not participating in the Samsung Champions Trophy, one of the most important hockey tournaments in the world, the FIH had no option but to change the venue for the 2007 Champions Trophy tournament.

FIH will decide on the new venue in the next few days.

MHC secretary Datuk Dr S.S. Cheema said that they informed FIH on Sept 6 of their intention to host the tournament.

Cheema said that the Malaysian team, who won their first-ever bronze medal in the Asia Cup in Chennai on Sunday, have no competitions left this year.

“So it will really benefit the national team to play in the Champions Trophy as they need to play quality matches to prepare for next year’s Olympic qualifie,” he said.

The national team, who returned from the Asia Cup on Tuesday, will resume training on Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

India pasang impian ke Olimpik

NEW DELHI – India yang berjaya mempertahankan gelaran juara hoki Piala Asia dengan kemenangan 7-2 keatas Korea Selatan Ahad lalu membawa keyakinan baru menjelang Sukan Olimpik Beijing tahun depan.

Jurulatihnya, Joaquim Carvalho kini menyimpan impian yang besar untuk menghadapi temasya itu.

Pasukan tuan rumah itu mengejutkan juara Sukan Asia sekali gus melengkapkan rekod tanpa kalah, satu pencapaian yang menebus kehampaan mereka selepas beberapa kali mengalami kekecewaan.

Carvalho memuji tahap kecergasan dan semangat berpasukan para pemainnya dengan bekas juara dunia itu berjaya menghimpun 57 gol dan hanya melepaskan lima gol dalam tujuh perlawanan, menewaskan Korea Selatan dua kali dan menyingkirkan pemenang pingat perak Sukan Asia, China sebelum bergelar juara.

Juara Olimpik sebanyak lapan kali itu buat pertama kali gagal memenangi sebarang pingat pada Sukan Asia di Doha, Qatar tahun lalu apabila menduduki tangga ke-11 daripada 12 pasukan dalam Piala Dunia, menduduki tempat keenam Sukan Komanwel 2006 dan Trofi Juara-Juara di tempat sendiri.

Stadium dipenuhi 10,000 penonton sewaktu perlawanan akhir – suasana yang sekian lama jarang dilihat dalam sukan hoki selepas kriket mengambilalih sebagai sukan utama pada pertengahan tahun 1980-an.

‘‘Kami memiliki sedikit mantra. Larian yang pantas, melakukan tackle dan memberi tekanan terhadap lawan. Pada masa yang sama, kami tidak menghormati lawan. Kami menghormati mereka tanpa melupakan keupayaan diri,” katanya.

Pasukan itu menampakkan peningkatan yang ketara sejak Carvalho mengambilalih tugas jurulatih pada Mac lalu.

Dengan pusingan kelayakan Olimpik ke Beijing masih berlangsung, India kini tertekan untuk menghasilkan pencapaian terbaik berikutan tindakan kerajaan yang menyisihkan hoki daripada sukan teras untuk mendapatkan peruntukkan tambahan selepas igauan buruk pada Sukan Asia.

Bekas pemain pertahanan, Carvalho mendapat pujian menggunung berikutan kejayaannya menyuntik kembali semangat para pemain, yang sebelum ini sering dipersalahkan kerana kurang bekerja sama dan tidak cergas.

‘‘Saya mahukan para pemain sedar bahawa mereka memiliki kemahiran dan keyakinan tetapi mereka perlu bekerja keras dan tidak hanya bergantung kepada kemahiran individu,” katanya.

Bagaimanapun, beliau menggesa para pemainnya agar memberi tumpuan dan mengelak daripada kekecewaan terlepas aksi Olimpik buat kali pertama.

India perlu memenangi satu daripada tiga kejohanan kelayakan yang akan berlangsung awal tahun depan untuk layak ke Beijing dan persiapan mereka mungkin lebih bermakna jika penganjuran kejuaraan elit, trofi Juara-Juara diberikan kepada negara itu.

Dijadualkan berlangsung di Pakistan Disember ini, kebimbangan terhadap masalah keselamatan mungkin memaksa penganjur memindahkan kejohanan itu samada di India atau Malaysia, yang menjadi venue pilihan.

Aussies, Kiwis fight for Olympic spot

BUDERIM (Australia): Australia and New Zealand's men's hockey teams will fight it out for Oceania's only Beijing Olympics berth at a qualifying tournament here.

Minnows Papua New Guinea, who have no world ranking, will also play but are not expected to challenge defending Olympic champions Australia (ranked second in the world) or the tough New Zealand team (ninth).

New Zealand coach Shane McLeod was confident his team could match Australia but said it would be tough.

“It's going to be the greatest test they have faced since I have been working with the team in the last year,” McLeod said after his team's final training session.

“I'm very happy with our defensive structure but they are yet to be tested by a team like Australia that can rip teams to bits.”

The winners of the Sept 11-16 Oceania Cup earn a place at Beijing while the runners-up will have to come through one of three qualifiers early next year.

In the women's qualifying tournament also being held here, New Zealand (ranked ninth in the world) and Australia (ranked third) are expected to take the two places available for teams from Oceania.

Papua New Guinea (63rd) and Fiji (67th) are not expected to challenge, with Australia demolishing Fiji 14-0 in their opening match yesterday.

The tournament concludes on Sunday with the men's and women's finals both expected to be between Australia and New Zealand. – AFP

Sarjit congak Olimpik

SINARAN Sukan Olimpik Beijing 2008 mula terbayang di mata skuad hoki kebangsaan selepas meraih pingat gangsa pada Kejohanan Piala Asia ke-7 di Chennai, India yang menjadi pembakar semangat menjelang kempen kelayakan bermula April depan.

Apa yang membanggakan, kejayaan itu ialah yang kedua untuk pasukan kendalian Sarjit Singh bermula muncul naib juara Piala Sultan Azlan Shah, Mei lalu yang menyaksikan Malaysia menamatkan penantian 22 tahun untuk beraksi di pentas final.

Malaysia tewas tipis 1-2 kepada Korea Selatan pada peringkat separuh akhir di Chennai sebelum membelasah Jepun, 5-3 dalam penentuan tempat ke-3/4 selain mencipta sejarah mendominasi saingan Kumpulan A yang turut membabitkan aksi gergasi Asia, Pakistan.

Pemain berpengalaman negara, Chua Boon Huat, sendiri mengakui dia optimis mengenai peluang Malaysia layak ke temasya sukan terbesar dunia itu berdasarkan peningkatan prestasi dipamerkan skuad adunan muka baru dan lama itu pada dua kejohanan utama dalam kalendar hoki dunia.

"Pemain menunjukkan peningkatan yang ketara di India berbanding ketika beraksi dalam Piala Sultan Azlan Shah. Bagi saya, ianya satu perkembangan sangat positif sebelum beraksi dalam perlawanan kelayakan Olimpik.

"Kita mencipta rekod baru dengan meraih kedudukan ketiga terbaik Asia di India dan nyaris layak ke final apabila tewas tipis kepada Korea. Saya harap peningkatan ini akan berterusan sebelum beraksi dalam kempen kelayakan," katanya.

"Mungkin kita akan mengetahui lawan perlawanan kelayakan pada akhir bulan depan. Tapi apa yang pasti, kami tidak gentar untuk berdepan mana-mana pasukan sekalipun," katanya.

Mengulas mengenai keserasian skuad terbabit, Chua berkata, dia gembira dengan perkembangan positif aspek terbabit kerana rakan sepasukan terutama pemain muda, mula mengenali corak permainan masing-masing selain mengikut arahan jurulatih ketika beraksi.

"Permainan kian kemas berbanding Piala Sultan Azlan Shah dan saya harap perkara itu berterusan sebelum beraksi di Sukan Sea. Mungkin tiada masalah untuk meraih emas di Korat, tapi saya harap pemain meningkatkan keupayaan semasa kerana kita tidak dimaklumkan mengenai kejohanan lain sebelum kempen kelayakan bermula.

"Ada atau tidak bukan perkara besar kerana yang penting adalah kesedaran pemain untuk meningkatkan corak permainan. Kita meraih gangsa Piala Asia, jadi reputasi juga pasti turut meningkat," katanya.

Sekalipun sudah meraih dua kejayaan besar, namun dia tidak gemar untuk memikirkan soal ganjaran kerana apa yang penting adalah melaksanakan tanggungjawab yang sudah diamanahkan.

"Saya hanya melaksanakan tanggungjawab dan tidak mahu berfikir mengenainya. Soal dapat atau tidak, tidak penting kerana fokus saya ketika menyarung jersi Malaysia hanyalah mahu menjulang piala untuk negara," katanya.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

India stays Men’s Asia Cup Champion

With a superlative performance, India retained the Asia Cup with a thumping 7-2 victory over Korea before a huge gathering here on Sunday. India led 3-1 at half-time.

Powered by an early goal by Shivendra, the Indians held the stage throughout to finish the championship with a whopping tally of 57 goals against five, winning seven matches in a row. It was something like a dream come true for the Indians.

Everyone pulled his weight in the outcome but none more than the winger Prabhjot Singh who not only slotted two goals but had a hand in almost every goal.

The Koreans were on a low key throughout, pressed hard by the Indian attack. Whatever effort they put at the rival end was smothered superbly by goal-keeper Baljit Singh.

Earlier, Malaysia earned its first medal in the Asia Cup, a bronze at that, beating Japan five goals to three.

The shock of the day was the defeat of Pakistan against China in the tie for the 5-6 positions. The sixth place for Pakistan is the lowest since the inception of the championship in 1982.

Results Men’s Asia Cup Sunday 9 September 2007:

FINAL:
India – Korea 7-2

Bronze medal match:
Malaysia – Japan 5-3

Classification 5-6:
China – Pakistan 3-2

Classification 7-8:
Bangladesh – Hong Kong 3-1

Classification 9-10:
Sri Lanka – Singapore 6-0

Final positions: 1.India 2. Korea, 3 Malaysia, 4.Japan, 5 China, 6.Pakistan, 7.Bangladesh, 8.Hong Kong, 9.Sri Lanka, 10.Singapore, 11. Thailand.

India and Korea in Men’s Asia Cup final

Defending champion, India, will take on Korea in the final of the Asia Cup on Sunday. In the semifinals played before a packed stadium in Chennai, India overwhelmed Japan by four goals to one, while Korea downed Malaysia by the odd goal in three.

India continued its sequence of victories with another splendid display. All the four were field goals, conceived well and executed brilliantly. No doubt the Japanese played with a lot of vigour, but the finesse in the Indian attack eventually won the day.

Two brilliant goals in a space of one minute in the first half jolted the Japanese. First, Shivendra struck from a cross by Sunil, and within a minute Prabhot Singh went in a solo move to beat the rival goal-keeper with a deft flick.

After the break, India enlarged the tally when Roshan Minz netted following a move by Prabhjot and Tushar.

The Japanese who found goalkeeper Baljit Singh a tough nut to crack eventually slotted on through Yamabori, but before the final whistle, Prabhjot Singh netted another splendid goal off a solo run from the mid-field.

Earlier, Korea's resilience stood in good stead even as goal keeper Kunmar Subramaniam came with another sterling display. Some of his saves off Jang Jong Hyun were outstanding. But he was flummoxed by a deflection by Oh Dae Keun.

Malaysia had its moment of glory when Azlan Misron levelled taking advantage of a cross from Tajuddin. But before the final whistle, Korea claimed the match winner from a tearaway move by Yoon Sung Hoon.

Results Men’s Asia Cup Saturday 8 September 2007:
Semifinals:
India – Japan 4-1
Korea – Malaysia 2-1

Classification matches:
Singapore – Thailand 4-0.
Pakistan – Bangladesh 10-0
China – Hong Kong 6-1.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Interesting semifinals at Men’s Asia Cup

Competition in the seventh Asia Cup for men is all set to acquire a new level of intensity when the semifinals surface on Saturday. While the defending champion, India, takes on Japan, whom it beat in the last BDO Champions Challenge at Boom 4-3, Malaysia locks horns with Korea, the Asian Games champion.

India's sweep of five matches with 15 points totally 46 goals underlines the newfound confidence and enthusiasm of the team under coach, Joaquim Carvalho. The team has been consistently doing well with two podium finishes this year at Ipoh and Boom. Coach Carvalo still asserts that a silver would have been appropriate at both these events.

With tremendous home support and the record of victories against Japan, India begins as the favourite but with a touch of caution. Japan, which finished ninth at Monchengladbach BDO World Cup cannot be, and should not be, taken lightly. The trump card is Yamabori whose penalty corner hits can befuddle any goal-keeper.

Malaysia has been playing extremely well moving into the top of Pool A without losing a game. Coach Sarjit Singh is optimistic that the team is in fine trim and can deliver against the highly rated Korea. Penalty corner specialist Zufikli and striker Tajuddin coupled with the seniors like Chua Boon Huat and Jiwa Mohan, not to speak of the athletic goal-keeper Kumar Subramaniam constitute the power block for Malaysia.

As always, Korea is a tough customer for any team in contemporary hockey, and relies mostly on the accuracy of drag flicker Jang Jong Hyun. And that the strongly built star playing with shirt No 25, has rarely failed when it came to penalty corners. Small wonder, he will be the corner stone.

Saturday’s matches: 11th place match: Singapore v Thailand (8:00); (5-8 positions): Pakistan v Bangladesh (7:00); China v Hong Kong (9:30); Semi-finals: Korea v Malaysia (17:00); India v Japan (19:30).

Korea and Japan complete semifinals at Men’s Asia Cup

Defending champion, India, was joined by Malaysia, Korea and Japan in the semifinal of the Asia Cup on Thursday.

While the places for India and Malaysia were confirmed even on Tuesday, there were results to be noted before spotting the next team. Japan needed a victory against Singapore and won in a trot, thus effectively pushing out Pakistan, three time winner of the trophy, from getting a semi-final spot.

It is a pity that for the first time Pakistan is returning without a semifinal berth in the Cup since inception in 1982 at Karachi.

India recorded its fifth consecutive win in Pool B to top the pool with a goal aggregate of 46, the highest in any competition. The previous best was 43 in the Olympics at Moscow in 1980.

The race between Korea and China ended with the former finishing with a goal difference of 33 against the 26 by China.

In the semifinals on Saturday, Malaysia will take on Korea, while India meets Japan.

Results Men’s Asia Cup, Thursday 6 September 2007:

Pool A:
Japan – Singapore 8-0

Ranking: 1. Malaysia 4-10 (26-4), 2. Japan 4-9 (18-4), 3. Pakistan 4-7 (18-7), 4. Hong Kong 4-3 (6-28), 5. Singapore 4-0 (2-27)

Pool B:
China – Sri Lanka 10-2
Korea – Bangladesh 8-0
India – Thailand 16-0

Ranking: 1. India 5-15 (46-2), 2. Korea 5-10 (41-8), 3. China 5-10 (32-6), 4. Bangladesh 5-6 (16-22), 5. Sri Lanka 5-3 (13-43), 6. Thailand 5-0 (1-67).

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Malaysia in the semis after holding Pakistan to a draw

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia staged a magnificent fightback from three goals down to snatch a 3-3 draw against three-time champions Pakistan in a Group A match to qualify for the semi-finals of the Asia Cup hockey tournament at the Radhakrishnan Stadium in Chennai yesterday.

Pakistan took control of the first-half, which was played in a heavy downpour, to go 3-0 up through Shakeel Abbasi (17th, 26th) and Akhtar Ali (33rd).

But Malaysia hit back in the second-half to salvage a draw. Forward Tengku Ahmad Tajudin (43rd, 57th) scored a brace before defender Megat Azrafiq Megat Termizi equalised one minute from time for a well-deserved point.

Malaysia, who are unbeaten, top the group with 10 points from three wins and a draw. They outplayed Singapore 8-0, whipped Hong Kong 13-1 and edged Japan, ranked 11th in the world, 2-0.

National coach Sarjit Singh said in a telephone interview from Chennai that he was impressed with his players’ never-say-die attitude against opponents who are ranked fifth in the world.

“Pakistan took control of the match in the first-half on the wet and slippery pitch due to rain. We were playing with 10 men after Engku Malik (Engku Mohamed) was sent to the sin bin for a rash tackle and Pakistan took advantage to score two goals,” said Sarjit.

“But my boys fought back and showed that they have what it takes to beat a team who are ranked much higher.” (Malaysia are ranked 16th in the world).

Malaysia will face either South Korea or China in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Defending champions India, who still have a game in hand, have qualified for the semi-finals from Group B after winning four straight matches.

Dates of Olympic Qualifiers released

Following the announcement by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) at its Congress last month of the six hosts of the Olympic Qualifiers for the 2008 Olympic Games, the dates for these six tournaments are now confirmed. Starting from 2 February 2008 until 4 May 2008, the last three Olympic tickets in each gender will be awarded to the winners of the respective Olympic Qualifiers.

The Olympic Qualifiers are the last possibilities for nations who do not qualify directly through their Continental Championships to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The first nine spots in each gender will be filled from December 2006 until September 2007 during the several Continental Championships.

At this stage, China, Korea and Pakistan are already qualified for the men’s hockey competition at 2008 Beijing Olympics, while China and Japan are qualified for the women’s hockey competition at 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Both for the men’s and women’s Olympic hockey qualifying tournaments, the best 18 nations not qualified will fight in three tournaments of six teams for the last three spots.

The schedule for the Olympic Qualifiers is as follows:

2-10 February 2008: Men’s Olympic Qualifier in Auckland, New Zealand.
1-9 March 2008 Men’s Olympic Qualifier in Santiago, Chile.
5-13 April 2008: Men’s Olympic Qualifier in Kakamigahara, Japan.
12-20 April 2008: Women’s Olympic Qualifier in Baku, Azerbaijan.
19-27 April 2008: Women’s Olympic Qualifier in Kazan, Russia.
26 April-4 May 2008: Women’s Olympic Qualifier in Vancouver, Canada.
In the event that one of the Olympic Qualifier organizers qualifies for the Olympic Games at an earlier stage; the Olympic Qualifier will be allocated to another (reserve) country.