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