Wednesday, November 26, 2008

MHL : Selva blow as Tenaga set out to defend overall title

Tenaga Nasional will not have the services of national forward S. Selvaraju in their defence of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) overall title.

The Taiping-born player, who returned from a successful stint in the German League with Berliner to play his first match in the MHL Division One against Sapura three weeks ago, is undergoing rehabilitation for a left thigh hamstring injury at the National Sports Institute (NSI).

Tenaga coach Lailin Abu Hassan said: “I don’t think he will recover in time for the knockout stage, starting next week.

“I also do not want to take the risk to field him as this may further aggravate the injury. We will miss his services.”

Lailin, who took charge of the team after K. Rajan’s appointment as coach of the National Juniors, added that with a weakened forwardline, the burden will be heavier in their bid to win the overall title again.

“It’s going to be a challenge for me as the new coach to help Tenaga retain the title,’’ he said.

Lailin said that he would have to bank on former international forwards, among them M. Kaliswaran, Mohd Fairuz Ramli, Mohd Fairuz Hamsani and Mahinder Singh, to deliver the goods.

“I am also worried with the team’s poor defence,” said Lailin.

“They have conceded 19 goals in 10 matches. The defenders have to cut down their mistakes and play a tighter game.’’

He added that defenders Baljit Singh Charun and Zaharin Zakariah would also have to tread with caution in the first match of the knockout stage, the quarter-finals.

“Both of them are on one yellow and one green card and if they receive another green card, they will be suspended for one match,” said Lailin.

The Malaysian Hockey Fede-ration (MHF) competition committee will decide on the dates of the knockout competition and make the draw today.

In Divison One of the MHL, Tenaga finished third behind champions Ernst and Young and Sapura.

MHL : Dates of MHL knockout phase to be decided tomorrow

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) competition committee will decide tomorrow the dates for the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) knockout competition.

Eight teams — six from Division One and two from Division Two — will feature in the battles for the overall title.

The teams from Division One are champions Ernst and Young, Sapura, Tenaga Nasional, Maybank, the National Juniors and Nur Insafi. The two from Division Two are champions Jurutera Letrik Jentera (JLJ) and runners-up Royal Malay Regiment (RMR).

The MHF secretary, Hashim Mohamed Yusoff, said that unlike last year when they made an open draw, the top four teams in Division One would be seeded this time.

He added that the Asean University Games schedule from Dec 17-21 would affect the knockout competition because five of the teams in Division One had players representing the Malaysian side.

MHL : Three vie for top scorer award

Three players are in the leading pack for the top scorer award in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

They are Tenaga Nasional’s Mohd Amin Rahim and the Ernst and Young duo of Baljit Singh Sarjab and Chua Boon Huat. All of them have seven goals to their credit thus far.

Defenders Amin and Baljit went on target from penalty corners while Boon Huat’s goals all came from field attempts.

However, Amin, who was the MHL top scorer for Ernst and Young in 2006 with 30 goals, said that he was unhappy with his conversion rate.

“I took 20 penalty corners in 10 Division One matches and converted seven. This is a poor statistic for my status as the penalty corner flicker for the national team.

“I will use the next few days to sharpen up before the MHL knockout stage begins next week,’’ he said.

The 28-year-old Amin said that he had set his sights on winning the top scorer award after failing to do so last year.

“Baljit has improved much in his penalty corner conversion rate and will be my strongest rival for the award,” he said.

The 21-year-old Baljit is also not too pleased with the number of goals he scored from nine matches.

“I wasted a few scoring chances and cannot afford to do so in the knockout stage if I want to win the award,” he said.

But Boon Huat is delighted with his efforts thus far.

“I have never won the top scorer award in the MHL but I am having a good run this year, scoring in almost every match. I hope I will be able to land the award this time,” he said.

League champions Ernst and Young, who have 17 players from the national training squad in their ranks, will wrap up their league fixtures against Maybank today at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

MHL : Sapura claim second spot, champs E&Y suffer first loss

Sapura chalked up an impressive 5-0 win over the National Juniors at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium to finish as the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Division One runners-up yesterday.

Sapura completed their fixtures with 18 points from 10 matches.

Defending overall champions Tenaga Nasional, meanwhile, ended the unbeaten run of champions Ernst and Young when they came back from a goal down to win 2-1 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Tenaga finished in third spot in the six-team competition with 16 points.

Sapura, powered by two former South Korean internationals, went on the offensive right from the start and led the Juniors 3-0 at half time.

Jiwa Mohan gave Sapura the lead off a penalty corner in the fifth minute. Sapura score two more penalty corner goals in the space of three minutes through S. Kuhan (26th) and Maninderjit Singh (29th).

The other two goals were scored by Koreans Kim Jung-chul (39th) and Song Seung-tae (54th).

Sapura coach K. Embaraj said that they were happy to take the runners-up spot.

“We have to iron out a few areas over the next two week in our preparation for the knockout stage of the competition, beginning on Dec 5. We need to work on our fitness and also on the forwardline,’’ he said.

Chua Boon Huat gave Ernst and Young the lead in the 14th minute but Tenaga came alive in the last 19 minutes to score two goals through Mohd Amin Rahim (51st) and Fazreen Eksan Kulup (59th).

Nur Insafi, meanwhile, chalked up their first win — beating former champions Maybank 5-2 at the USM Stadium in Penang.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

MHL : Jiwa flies in weekly from Perth to play in the MHL

Jiwa Mohan has been travelling from Perth to Kuala Lumpur almost every week to play for Sapura in the Malaysia Hockey League — that’s 4,162km one way!

The 27-year-old, who has been working as a mechanical engineer in Perth since June, has played in six out of Sapura’s nine MHL matches. And he doesn’t mind the travelling.

“I love hockey and am very passionate about the game. I don’t mind travelling every week to play in the MHL. I have travelled from Perth to Kuala Lumpur five times since the league started last month,” said Jiwa, who has been representing Sapura for seven consecutive years.

“I believe I am the first hockey player in the MHL who travels from overseas almost every week to play in the league.

“I want to thank Sapura for paying for my air fares.”

Jiwa, who quit the national team after the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in May, joined a private company in Perth in June.

He was then invited by Curtin Trinity Pirates Club to play for them in the Perth hockey league. “That was the first time I played in the Australian league and I did extremely well by scoring 12 goals in 12 matches.

“It was a good experience playing in the Perth league, which ended in September,’’ said Jiwa, who flew in two days ago to get ready for Sapura’s match against the National Juniors at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium today.

Jiwa is bent on helping his team beat the Juniors and finish as runners-up in Division One.

“Then, we will go for the overall title,” said Jiwa, who was named the best player in the MHL in 2006 — the year Sapura won the overall title.

Jiwa was also the top scorer (23 goals) in the MHL last year, when they also finished second in the league and made it until the semi-finals in the knockout stage.

Friday, November 21, 2008

MHL : JLJ thump Unimap to claim Division Two title

Jurutera Letrik Jentera (JLJ) scored a thumping 6-3 win over Universiti Perlis Malaysia (Unimap) to clinch the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) Division Two title at the Alor Star Hockey Stadium yesterday.

JLJ, who completed the fixtures with 19 points from six wins, a draw and a defeat, will be promoted to Division One next year.

Former champions Royal Malay Regiment (RMR) finished as runners-up with 18 points.

JLJ and RMR have also qualified for the quarter-finals stage for the overall title.

Six teams from Division One and the top two teams from Division Two will feature in the knock-out stage next month.

Sapura, meanwhile, took a step closer to finishing as runners-up in Division One after edging Nur Insafi 2-1 at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium yesterday.

Former double champions Sapura, who have 15 points from nine matches, have one match left to play — against the National Juniors tomorrow.

Tenaga Nasional blew their chances of finishing second in the league after managing only a 2-2 draw with Maybank at the Seremban Two Hockey Stadium.

Tenaga wrap up their league fixtures with a tough assignment — against Division One champions Ernst and Young, who sealed their third consecutive league title on Wednesday.

Ernst and Young won their eighth straight match with a 9-2 thrashing of the National Juniors yesterday.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

MHL : Dharmaraj wants E&Y to nail the elusive overall title

Ernst and Young coach K. Dharmaraj (pic) is not jumping for joy even though his team bagged two titles in three days.

They won the third Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tournament last Sunday and will represent Asia in the inaugural World Clubs championship in Barcelona in January.

And three days later in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), they took an unassailable lead with three matches to spare to retain the Division One title. It was the third consecutive time that they are the champions.

Dharmaraj, who has been coaching the team since 2000, said that he would really happy only when the team claim the MHL overall title for the first time.

“We have played in six finals and lost on all occasions. We have to break this jinx,” he said.

Ernst and Young first final was in 2001 and they also made it for five consecutive years from 2003.

Dharmaraj added that they were unlucky to lose the last two finals on penalty strokes to Sapura and Tenaga Nasional.

“We have a solid team this year and winning the overall title will be the ultimate goal for us,’’ he said.

Dharmaraj, who has in his team 17 players from the national training squad, said that he would give his reserves more chances to play in the remaining three matches against the National Juniors today, Tenaga Nasional on Sunday and Maybank on Wednesday.

“I want them to be on par with the first-choice players for the knockout stage, starting on Dec 5,’’ he said.

Forward Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, meanwhile, will have to serve a one-match suspension for collecting his second yellow card in the match against Sapura, which Ernst and Young won 2-0 to seal the Division One title on Wednesday.

He picked his first yellow card in the match against Nur Insafi on Nov 9 in Penang.

Dharmaraj said that midfielder Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib, who miss the ACC tournament last week because of his Universiti Putra Malaysia examinations, would return to action today.

MHL : Embaraj: Players must learn to control their temper

Sapura coach K. Embaraj wants his players to keep their tempers in check.

He said that there were many scuffles in a tense Malaysia Hockey League Division One match against Ernst and Young at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium on Wednesday.

“My player, S. Kuhan (pic), lost his cool and shouted at Ernst and Young’s Megat Azrafiq Megat Termizi over a foul. Both players were also yelling at the umpires. I was disappointed with Kuhan as he went for Azrafiq after the match,’’ said Embaraj.

“Kuhan is an experienced player and he must learn to keep his cool. He apologised after the incident to the team officials and the player but it should not have happened.”

“I want my players to win the remaining two matches to finish as league runner-up,’’ said Embaraj.

Sapura, powered by two South Korean players, will play against Nur Insafi at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium today and they will wrap up the league fixtures against the National Juniors on Sunday at the same venue.

Sapura and Tenaga Nasional are tied on 12 points from eight matches.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

MHL : Ernst and Young clinch Div 1 crown with three matches to go

Ernst and Young turned on the heat in the second half to chalk up a hard-fought 2-0 win over Sapura in a tense match to retain the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Division One title at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium yesterday.

The victory gave Ernst and Young an unassailable lead with three matches to spare — against the National Juniors tomorrow, Tenaga Na­­sional on Sunday and Maybank on Wednesday.

Ernst and Young with 17 players from the national training squad in their ranks certainly stamp their dominance in clinching the title for the third consecutive time. They now have a 100% win record from seven matches.

But yesterday, they had to work hard for victory. They had two penalty corners in the first half but drew blanks.

Sapura, powered by two South Koreans, meanwhile, looked the more dangerous side in attack but were let down by poor finishing.

Forward Tengku Ahmad Tajud­din gave Ernst and Young the lead in the 38th minute. He beat two defenders before flicking the ball past goalkeeper Nasihin Nubli. They kept up the pressure and increased the lead in the 64th minute with Chua Boon Huat latching on to a through pass from skipper Azlan Misron to hit home with a reverse stick attempt.

The only blemish for Ernst and Young was when Tengku Ahmad was sent to the sin bin in the 65th minute for yelling at umpire Ravinderpal Singh.

Ernst and Young coach K. Dharmaraj said that the pressure was on them to win the match and he praised his players for taking their chances well.

“Matches against Sapura have always been very close. I am happy with my players for playing an all-out attacking game to finally break down our opponents in the second half to seal the title,’’ added Dharmaraj.

It was the second title claimed by Ernst and Young in three days. They emerged as champions of the Asian Champion Clubs tournament on Sunday and will represent Asia in the world club championship in Barcelona in January.

In another Division One match played at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium, former champions Maybank were held to a 0-0 draw by the National Juniors.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

MHL : Coach Rajan relishes tough tests for National Juniors

The National Juniors have four tough matches to play in a week in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

But coach K. Rajan is not complaining. Instead, he is taking the matches as good tests for his side’s preparation for the Junior World Cup Finals, which Malaysia and Singapore will co-host from June 7-21.

“It will be a test of fitness and mental strength. I will also get to know how well the boys cope with the pressure of having to play four tough matches in seven days,’’ he said.

The Juniors are in the fifth spot of the six-team Division One standings with five points from five matches and they will take on Maybank today at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium.

They will play against defending league champions Ernst and Young on Friday and against Sapura on Sunday. They wrap up their league fixtures against Nur Insafi next Wednesday.

Rajan is looking at his team to chalk up two wins from the four matches.

“My players have improved in every match and we will go all out to get a win against Maybank. We gave them a good fight in the first match before going down 2-3,’’ he said.

Rajan added that they would have the services of defender and penalty corner flicker Mohd Nor Hafiq Abdul Gaffar, who has recovered from a knee injury.

“I am banking on him to deliver the goals against Maybank. We are also hoping to collect three points against Nur Insafi as we defeated them 2-1 in the first match,’’ he said.

The Juniors are resuming action in the MHL after featuring in the Asian Club Champions tournament last week.

MHL : On-form striker Baljit bids to gun down Sapura

Baljit Singh Sarjab is on a roll for Ernst and Young.

The 21-year-old defender has scored six penalty corner goals in five Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) matches so far.

And the former Junior World Cup player was also the toast of the team in the Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tour­­­nament, scoring six goals in three matches.

In the final against Pakistan’s Olympic Village Club on Sunday, he converted four penalty corners to help Ernst and Young win 7-2 and earn a place in the inaugural world club championship in January.

Ernst and Young return to MHL action today and Baljit wants to score against Sapura at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium. Ernst and Young have maximum points from six matches and need three points more from the remaining four matches to retain the Division One title.

Baljit said that he was feeling more confidence playing in the MHL since he began featuring for Ernst and Young four years ago.

“I am not only playing well as a defender but has been scoring regularly from penalty corners. My flicks are more powerful and accurate than before. Scoring four goals in the final of the ACC tournament was the best achievement in my career thus far,’’ said Baljit, who only scored one goal in the MHL last season.

Baljit added that he would go all out to score against Sapura and help Ernst and Young win the match.

“We defeated Sapura 2-1 in the first match and I scored to give my team the lead. I want to continue scoring goals in the MHL and emerge as the top scorer,’’ said Baljit, who scored 23 goals for Bukit Jalil Sports School to become the top scorer in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League in 2006.

Coach K. Dharmaraj said that he was impressed with Baljit’s game and felt that he was performing better than national defender Zulkifli Rejab.

“Baljit’s penalty corner conversion rate has been excellent and I believe he can become the top penalty corner flicker for the national team,” he said.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

MHL : Tenaga worry over their porous defence

Tenaga Nasional’s porous defence is a big worry in their attempt to claim full points from their remaining four matches in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

Skipper Mohamed Madzli Ikmar said that individual errors and not the brilliance of their opponents has resulted in them conceding goals.

“We have conceded 11 goals and scored 13. That is not a good statistic,” said the 30-year-old national defender.

“I can understand if the opponents execute their moves well to get the goals. But we are making mistakes and giving them away. That is not the way to go if are to succeed in the defence of the overall title.”

Madzli plays either in defence or as a central midfielder. The regular defenders are Mohamed Amin Rahim, who is also their penalty corner specialist, Zaharin Zakaria and Lawrence Steven. And youngsters like Baljit Singh and S. Bubalan can also fit in as defenders.

Tenaga have thrown in the towel in the battle for the Division One title and they are looking at finishing as the runners-up to Ernst and Young, who have opened up a nine-point lead. Tenaga are now in third place on inferior goal difference behind Sapura.

“The league title is beyond our reach. We have to be realistic about it and look ahead to what needs to be done from now. We must get used to a winning mentality and the next four matches are important. Winning them will boost the confidence of the team and we will be better prepared for the knockout stage,” said Madzli.

Tenaga will be up against Nur Insafi at the USM Stadium in Penang today followed by matches against Sapura (Sunday), Maybank (Nov 21) and Ernst and Young (Nov 23).

In the fight for second place, besides Tenaga and Sapura, the other teams still in the running are Maybank and the National Juniors.

Ernst and Young and the National Juniors will not be in action in this weekend’s fixtures. They are competing in the Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tournament that will end on Sunday.

ACC : E&Y live up to their billing

Malaysia’s Ernst and Young and Pakistan’s Olympic Village Club lived up to their favourites’ tag in the opening matches of the Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tournament at the KL Hockey Stadium here yesterday.

Ernst and Young overcame a determined National Juniors 5-2 in Group A while Olympic Village chalked up a 3-0 victory over Uzbekistan’s Nadijon in Group B. The other teams in the fray are Singapore Recreation Club and Thai Royal Air Force.

Ernst and Young were up against familiar opponents but they started off nervously. Still, they managed to carve out a 2-0 lead after 23 minutes of play. Defender Zulkifli Rejab scored a penalty corner goal in the 17th minute and Azlan Mizron followed up with a field attempt.

The Juniors kept plugging away and in the 35th minute managed to score off their third penalty corner through skipper Ahmad Kazamirul Nasaruddin.

From the start of the second half, the Juniors had Ernst and Young pegged in defence and found the equaliser in the 42nd minute with Kavin Kartik slotting home a penalty corner setpiece.

Chua Boon Huat regained the lead for Ernst and Young in the 52nd minute before Zulkifli fired home another penalty corner (54th) and Baljit Singh converted a penalty stroke (55th).

Ernst and Young coach K. Dharmaraj said that there had been overall improvement in the team’s performance and he hopes to see more polished displays in the coming matches.

“The players were under a bit of pressure as they needed to win the match.

“They gave the Juniors so much space to move in the early stages. I am glad that they stormed back to win the match after letting in two goals. In the past, they would have crumbled under such pressure,” he said.

Ernst and Young will play against Thai Royal Air Force tomorrow and a win will put them in the final.

In the other match, Olympic Village dominated play against Nadijon and scored the goals through Mahmood Ali (28th, 61st) and Mohamed Tousiq (38th).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ACC : Lack of stars not a problem for Olympian Village Club

Olympian Village Club did not had a single national player in their team but they were still good enough to win the Pakistan inter-club championships in Lahore last month.

Team manager Aslam Rodha said that they proved to the other clubs in their country that star players alone did not always win championships.

Aslam, who arrived here yesterday afternoon with the team for the Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tournament, said: “We believe in teamwork and having dedicated players to win matches. We have a young team with an average age of 22 and they are in high spirits to win the tournament here.”

He added that their aim was to become the first Pakistani team to emerge as the champions.

“I have faith in my players and know that they have the ability to achieve it,’’ said Aslam.

Olympian Village will take on Adijon of Uzbekistan today and their other match in Group B is against Singapore Recreation Club tomorrow. Aslam said that they should have no problem winning both matches to reach the final.

“We are also not too worried if we have to play against (Malaysia’s) Ernst and Young, who have 16 national players in their side (in the final). We know the Malaysian style of play and how to overcome them,” he said.

Aslam added that in the run-up to the tournament, they played five friendly matches last week.

“We have two very good penalty corner flickers and will be banking on them to deliver the goals,’’ he Aslam, referring to defenders Mohammad Irfan Mohammad Shafiq and Mohammad Tousiq.

ACC : rnst and Young forced to reshuffle midfield

The absence of national player Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib has forced Ernst and Young to reshuffle their midfield for the Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tournament, which begins today at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium.

Coach K. Dharmaraj said yesterday that Sukri was unable to play in the tournament because he had to sit for his Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) examinations beginning today.

“He wanted to sit for the exams after the tournament but the university did not allow him to do so,” he said.

“He is a hardworking player and we will miss his services. He scored the winning goal for us against Tenaga Nasional (3-2) in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) last week.”

Dharmaraj added that skipper and forward Azlan Misron would take over Sukri’s midfield role.

“Azlan has the experience of playing in this position and we hope that he can combine well with Shahrun (Nabil) and Kelvinder (Singh),’’ Dharmaraj said.

Ernst and Young, who have 16 players from the national training squad in their ranks, will open their Group A campaign against the National Juniors today.

Their other opponents in the group are Royal Thai Air Force. Group B comprises Pakistan’s Olympian Village Club, Adijon of Uzbekistan and the Singapore Recreation Club.

Dharmaraj said that he had warned his players not to take the Juniors lightly.

“We beat them 7-0 in an early MHL match but they have improved with every match and we can expect it to be tough against them this time.

“Our target is to win the tournament and I hope the players will rise to the occasion and give their best, ’’ Dharmaraj said.

The winners of the top two groups will play in the final Sunday and Dharmaraj said that the Pakistanis club would start as favourites to win Group B.

The champions of the tournament will represent Asia in the inaugural World Cup for clubs in Spain in January.

Malaysia hosted the inaugural ACC tournament in 1991 and Maybank emerged as the champions.

The second edition was held in Karachi in 1993 and Hyohito of Japan were the winners.

ACC : Uzbekistan’s Adijon enjoy the feel of outdoor pitch

Uzbekistan club Adijon had trained on an artificial turf since winter began and they had their first feel of an outdoor pitch at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The team arrived here for the Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tournament yesterday morning and their manager, Rinat Mamatkazin, said that they had been restricted to playing indoors since the cold weather set in.

“It’s different playing indoors and outdoors but we are here to give the other teams a run for their money. We have 17 internationals in the team and they have been playing together for many years,’’ said Mamatkazin.

Adijon, who are making their first appearance in the tournament, are in Group B with Singapore Recreation Club and Pakistan’s Olympian Village Club.

Mamathkazin added that they were not sure of the strength of the other teams.

“However, we believe that the Pakistan’s club will pose a threat to us in our group,’’ said the 54-year-old manager.

“We will be banking on forward Roman (Sibaev) to deliver the goals in the tournament. He has been the most impressive player in our league, scoring 38 goals in 15 matches.”

Adijon played a friendly match against National Juniors in Bukit Jalil yesterday and they were beaten 2-5.

ACC : Forward Razie earns praises for solid display as defender

Young forward Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim has taken the role of a defender quite well for Ernst and Young in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

And the 21-year-old Kuala Lumpur player has now been given the task to hold the Ernst and Young backline together in the third Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tournament, which begins tomorrow at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium.

Coach K. Dharmaraj said that there were many forwards in the team and they switched Razie to defence because he has had the experience of playing as the last man in Sukma (Malaysia Games) in Terengganu last June.

“He carried out his duties exceptionally well in the MHL. He is a hard working player with good tackling skills and it is one of the reasons why the team have conceded very few goals in the MHL,’’ he said.

Dharmaraj added that they were also impressed with Razie’s ability to stop penalty corners.

“He is the first runner out and he has managed to foil the opponents’ attempts. We need a daring player like him to stop opponents from scoring goals from penalty corners in the ACC,’’ he said.

The other defenders in the team are Mohd Soffian Mohamed, Zulkifli Rejab and Baljit Singh Sarjab.

Ernst and Young are in Group A with the National Juniors and Thai Royal Air Force. Group B comprises Pakistan’s Olympian Village Club, Singapore Recreation Club and Adijon of Uzbekistan.

Dharmaraj said that besides having to marshal the defence, Razie is also the third penalty corner flicker in the team after Zulkifli and Baljit.

Razie said that although he took the role of forward in the national team, he was happy to play in defence for Ernst and Young.

“I have played well in the MHL and I will give my best to help Ernst and Young win the ACC tournament,’’ he said.

Monday, November 10, 2008

ACC : E&Y coach says Pakistani club could dent their hopes at ACC tournament

Ernst and Young boast of having 17 players in the national training squad and they will start as favourites to win the third edition of the Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tournament, which starts on Thursday at the KL Hockey Stadium.

But team manager George Koshy has taken a cautious look at the Pakistani club, Olympian Village, even though no information was forthcoming on their strength.

Ernst and Young are in Group A with the National Juniors and Thai Royal Air Force. Olympian Village are in Group B with Singapore Recreation Club and Adijon of Uzbekistan. The top team in the group will play in the final.

“I understand that they have some former and current Olympians in their ranks. We have not seen their team list and therefore we cannot take them for granted at this stage,” said George.

Ernst and Young are the defending league champions of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) and have gone great guns in the ongoing Division One tournament.

They hold a nine-point advantage over their nearest rivals at the top of the standings. One more win from their remaining four matches will give them the title again.

George added that there would be no let up from his team when they resume competition in the MHL against Sapura on Nov 19.

“The lead in the MHL give us some breathing space and we can concentrate on the ACC this week. But we have to be cautious and not get carried away. We have not played well in some of the (MHL) matches but it’s the results that count,” he said.

“Previously, we played entertaining hockey but the results were not there. So now we are more result orientated.”

Ernst and Young will pick their squad of 18 players for the ACC tomorrow. George said that they had a few players nursing injuries and would wait until the last moment to name their squad.

MHL : Reality bites as four teams now set sights on runners-up spot

The four teams chasing defending league champions Ernst and Young have thrown in the towel in the race for the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) title and will now look at finishing as the runners-up and their challenge in the knockout stage.

Sapura coach K. Embaraj summed up the feelings of the coaches and said: “For us, it’s all about getting second place. We can also turn our attention to the fight for the overall title and use the remaining matches to prepare for it.
Embaraj: ‘For Sapura it’s all about getting second place.’

“It would have been okay if we are just three or four points adrift of Ernst and Young. But we have a nine-point deficit to overcome in four matches.”

Sapura and Tenaga Nasional are on nine points while Maybank are another point adrift.

The National Juniors have five points and are still in with a chance to pip the others to second spot.

Maybank coach S. Vellapan said: “We need to work on our weaknesses before the preliminary round ends.

“We know that the battle for second place will be tough but it is within our reach.

“My players have settled down but the finishing is still poor. We need to work on that and also our penalty corner set piece moves.

“In the knockout stage, you have just one shot to make it to the next round.

“So the teams have to be well-prepared, both physically and mentally, for the challenges.”

Maybank do not have any matches this weekend because of postponements of fixtures to allow Ernst and Young and the National Juniors to compete in the Asian Champions Clubs (ACC) tournament beginning on Thursday.

Vellapan added that getting a break and a longer period to work on their game was not really a major advantage.

“We will have three matches to play in a space of five days over two weeks. It will take a toll on us and we need to be really fit to be able to handle these matches,” he said.

Maybank will also not have their full squad in training during the ACC tournament.

Five of their players are with the National Juniors.

It’s business as usual for Tenaga this weekend.

They play against Nur Insafi in Penang on Friday and will be up against Sapura on Sunday, giving them the chances to consolidate their position for the runners-up spot before the matches against Maybank and Ernst and Young.

The Maybank-National Juniors and the Sapura-Ernst and Young matches scheduled for Friday will be played on Nov 19.

And the Ernst and Young-Maybank and the Nur Insafi-National Juniors matches scheduled for Sunday will be played on Nov 26.

Clubs agree to release National Juniors for ACC tourney

The National Juniors will get the services of all their top players in the Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tournament, which begins on Thursday at the KL Hockey Stadium.

The tournament involves teams from Malaysia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Singapore and Thailand and the Juniors are featuring in it as a guest side. Ernst and Young are the Malaysian club in the tournament.

The Juniors are also playing in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) and seven of their key players are with other teams in the competition.

MHF deputy president, Nur Azmi Ahmad, said yesterday that the three clubs with national junior players had agreed to release them to play in the ACC tournament.

“We have also decided to postpone four matches this weekend to allow the Juniors and Ernst and Young to compete in the ACC,” he said.

Maybank has five national juniors in their ranks while Sapura and Tenaga Nasional have one player each.

The Maybank players are Hang Edzharsyah Hang Tuah, Shaheeb Shah Halim Shah, Mohamed Syafiq Mohamed Zain, Mohamed Azammi Adabi and Abdul Halim Adnan.

Tenaga have Mohamed Fitri Abu Bakar in their ranks while Mohamed Faisal Kamaruddin don Sapura colours in the MHL.

Ernst and Young and the Juniors are in Group A with the Thai Royal Air Force. In Group B are Pakistan’s Olympian Village Club, Singapore Recreation Club and Adijon of Uzbekistan.

The juniors have 30 players in their training squad. Only 18 players will be picked for the ACC tournament.

Juniors coach K. Rajan said the ACC tournament was a bonus for them.

“Our plan is to trim the training squad to 22 after the MHL and then go to Australia for a tournament and playing tour in January. I’m glad that the other teams have agreed to release their juniors players to play in the ACC,” he said.

The Juniors will take part in the Australian Olympic Youth Festival, a tournament in Sydney involving teams from Australia, New Zealand and England, from Jan 13-18. After the tournament they will go on a nine-match tour of Sydney and Brisbane.

MHL : Title nearly Ernst and Young’s as rivals falter

Ernst and Young virtually wrapped up the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) title as their nearest challengers faltered in their opening second round matches yesterday.

The defending league champions chalked up a narrow 3-2 win over Nur Insafi at the USM Hockey Stadium in Penang to extend their lead at the top of the table to nine points.

Tenaga Nasional blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with the National Juniors at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil while second-placed Sapura also lost ground when they were held to a goalless draw by Maybank at the KL Hockey Stadium.

With four matches more to go in the league competition, Ernst and Young only need a draw to retain the title for the third time.

Yesterday, Nur Insafi, who won the Division Two title last year, took a surprise lead with a goal by Ramesh Kumar in the 21st minute.

But Ernst and Young drew level five minutes later through Chua Boon Huat and this was followed by goals from Mohamed Shahrun Nabil and Zulkifli Rejab in the 52nd and 66th minutes respectively.

Nur Insafi, who have yet to register a win, scored another goal in the 68th minute through Ajay Kumar.

At the KL Hockey Stadium, it was tale of missed chances for Sapura and Maybank.

Maybank coach S. Vellapan said: “The title is now out of our reach and we have to focus on the second place. Today, our finishing was poor and we have to be satisfied that we managed to secure a point.”

Overall champions Tenaga Nasional could have moved into second place had they maintained their two-goal lead from the first half over the Juniors.

Fazreen Eksan scored the opening goal in the 31st minute and Fairuz Ramli went on target three minutes later. But the Juniors fought back and Izwan Firdaus scored a brace in the 58th and 66th minutes.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

MHL : Title as good as Ernst and Young’s

The battle for the league title is over bar the shouting.

Defending champions Ernst and Young have opened up a seven-point lead over their opponents atop the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Division One standings.

They can wrap up their third straight league title if they win their next two matches when the second half of the MHL season gets under way today.

Ernst and Young face whipping boys Nur Insafi at the USM Stadium today and will take a break from the MHL to play in the Asian Champion Clubs tournament from Nov 13-16.

That means their match against second-placed Sapura on Nov 19 could well be the title-decider.

But Sapura seem to think that the title race is all over.

Sapura assistant team manager Abdullah Yunus said yesterday that the league title was Ernst and Young’s to lose.

“The title fight is effectively over. Can you see them losing two matches in the second phase? We are not going to worry about the title ... our focus will now shift to the runners-up spot and the quarter-finals after that,” he said.

“There is no point trying to catch Ernst and Young. We need to stay ahead of Tenaga Nasional and Maybank for the second spot.”

After five round of matches, Ernst and Young lead the standings with 15 points, followed by Sapura and Tenaga Nasional on eight and Maybank on seven.

Tenaga coach Lailin Abu Hassan agreed that it would be difficult for the rest to catch up with Ernst and Young.

“There is simply no point in chasing them now. But we are not giving up the fight as we still have the runners-up spot to think about,” he said.

“I am more concerned about the knockout stage, where we will be defending the overall title. So we are going to use the remaining matches to fine-tune our game and be prepared for the tougher matches to come in the second round.

“Although the league title is out of our reach, we do not want to make it easy for Ernst and Young either.”

In other Division One matches today, Tenaga will play the National Juniors while Maybank will meet Sapura.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sang-ryul is ready but he wants a clear-the-air session with MHF first

South Korean Kim Sang-ryul is ready to take charge of the Malaysian hockey team but there is a catch — he wants a clear-the-air session with the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) before commiting himself.

Sang-ryul admitted that there had overtures from “certain people” in Malaysia before adding that further talks were being planned to discuss his role in detail.

“For sure I’m now available to take up a coaching job outside China. There have been several offers and I’m looking at all options,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

“Malaysia have a young and talented set of players. There is no question that they have the ability to improve. I will need to know the exact nature of the job and also what sort of control they (MHF) can give me in moulding the side.”

Sang-ryul was the coach of the Chinese team who finished 11th out of 12 teams in the recent Beijing Olympics.

He was also the South Korean men’s team coach for 12 years from 1988-2000 before taking charge of their women’s team for four years (2000-2004).

Sang-ryul is credited with raising the standard of hockey in South Korea and has a reputation of being a strict disciplinarian.

The move to get Sang-ryul is being led by the National Sports Council (NSC), who are not happy with the national team’s performance.

Malaysia, coached by Sarjit Singh, are ranked 15th in the world after failing to qualify for the Beijing Games — the third major tournament that the Malaysians had missed out on since 2004.

They failed to get past the Madrid Olympic qualifiers in 2004 under German coach Paul Lissek and again failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup under coach Wallace Tan.

A final decision on Sang-ryul’s appointment is expected to made when the MHF hold their first council meeting next Saturday.

National Junior to play in club meet

The National Juniors have accepted an invitation to compete in the Asian Champion Clubs (ACC), which will be held at the KL Hockey Stadium on Nov 13-16.

Only five countries have entered their champion clubs for the meet, which is being revived by the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) after a 15-year lapse. The AHF have invited the Juniors to make it a six-team affair.

Malaysia’s Ernst and Young are in Group A with the National Juniors and Thai Royal Air Force.

Pakistan’s Olympian Village Club, Singapore Recreation Club and Adijon of Uzbekistan are in Group B.

The top teams from each group will meet in the final, with the champions representing Asia in the inaugural World Club Championships in Barcelona in January.

The National Juniors, however, will not get to play in Barcelona if they win the tournament. The Juniors are preparing for the Junior World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Malaysia and Singapore from June 7-21.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have announced the postponement of all matches involving Ernst and Young and the National Juniors on Nov 14 and Nov 16.

This will force the Malaysia Hockey League to be extended by 10 days. The final, initially slated for Dec 21, will be held at a new date to be announced later.

Friday, November 7, 2008

MHL : E&Y terus kebal teraju liga

Ernst & Young (E&Y) terus kebal mengekalkan rekod tanpa kalah sebanyak lima perlawanan berturut-turut Divisyen 1 Liga Hoki Malaysia (LHM) apabila menundukkan Tenaga Nasional Bhd. (TNB) 3-2 di Stadium Hoki Kuala Lumpur, semalam.

Jaringan cantik Mohamad Sukri Abdul Jalil pada minit ke-58 membolehkan E&Y menamatkan pusingan pertama LHM dengan pencapaian cemerlang.

Dua lagi jaringan E&Y disumbangkan oleh Baljit Singh minit ke-19 dan Ismail Abu minit ke-42, manakala gol TNB dihasilkan oleh Mohd. Fairuz Ramli minit kelima serta Muhamad Amin Rahim minit ke-23.

Jurulatih E&Y, Muhammad Dhaarma Raj Abdullah berkata, dia begitu berpuas hati dengan persembahan anak didiknya yang tidak panik meskipun ketinggalan 0-1 pada awal perlawanan.

"Kami bermain baik hari ini, walaupun ada beberapa pemain agak gugup kerana bertemu TNB yang mempunyai prestasi yang membanggakan musim ini.

"Apa-apa pun, E&Y berjaya memperoleh mata penuh yang sangat diperlukan untuk memberi kelegaan dan ketenangan kepada pasukan kerana akan bersaing di Kejuaraan Kelab-Kelab Asia Khamis depan," katanya di sini, semalam.

Pada pertemuan Khamis ini, E&Y akan bertemu Remaja Kebangsaan, sebelum menentang kelab dari Thailand, Tentera Udara Diraja Thailand (Sabtu).

Sementara itu, jurulatih TNB, Lailin Abu Hassan berkata, dia tidak kecewa dengan kekalahan kepada E&Y semalam, sebaliknya berpuas hati dengan persembahan yang ditunjukkan oleh anak didiknya itu.

Katanya, pemain-pemain TNB berjaya mempamerkan persembahan bertenaga untuk memberi saingan kepada E&Y pada pertemuan sengit itu dan melaksanakan strategi yang telah dirancang.

Jelasnya, TNB hanya tidak bernasib baik dan banyak percubaan berbahaya berjaya diselamatkan oleh penjaga gol lawan.

Sementara itu, dua lagi perlawanan Divisyen 1 menyaksikan Maybank mencatat kemenangan 5-2 ke atas Nur Insafi di Stadium Hoki Seremban, manakala Sapura seri 4-4 dengan Remaja Kebangsaan di Stadium Hoki Nasional Bukit Jalil.

MHL : Sapura mahu bangkit cabar dominasi E&Y

Sapura mahu menjadikan pertembungan dengan pasukan di tangga kedua tercorot Divisyen 1 Liga Hoki Malaysia (LHM) Remaja Kebangsaan hari ini sebagai detik kebangkitan untuk mencabar dominasi pendahulu Ernst & Young (E&Y).

Dengan ramalan tiga mata mudah bakal diraih ke atas pasukan Remaja Kebangsaan yang hanya menang sekali dalam empat perlawanan setakat ini, Sapura mampu memintas TNB di tangga kedua tetapi ia bergantung jika TNB tewas kepada E&Y.

Jurulatih Sapura, K. Embaraj berkata, pasukannya mengharapkan tiga mata penuh dapat pungut dalam perlawanan hari ini ke atas pasukan lawan yang mencatat pencapaian sederhana setakat ini.

Katanya, pasukan Sapura yang diperkuatkan oleh bekas pemain kebangsaan Maninderjit Singh akan cuba memberikan beraksi terbaik.

''Kita tidak memandang rendah kemampuan pasukan Remaja Kebangsaan walaupun prestasi mereka tidak begitu konsisten. Mereka kurang menyerlah kerana gagal menghimpunkan para pemain terbaik namun siapa tahu mereka mampu melakukan kejutan jika kami alpa.

''Kami tetap akan berhati-hati dan menganggap keputusan perlawanan esok (hari ini) cukup penting untuk kami memperbaiki kedudukan bagi mencabar penguasaan E&Y.

''Kami mahu memastikan tidak keciciran mata di dalam setiap perlawanan kerana hanya dengan cara itu Sapura dapat menyaingi pasukan kelompok teratas,'' katanya ketika dihubungi semalam.

Sapura kini di tangga ketiga Divisyen 1 LHM dengan mengumpul tujuh mata hasil dua kemenangan dan sekali seri.

Sementara itu, ketua pasukan Sapura, Maninderjit berkata, dia sudah bersedia untuk menyahut cabaran mengutip tiga mata dalam perlawanan hari ini.

Namun katanya, kecederaan lutut yang dialaminya sedikit membimbangkan kerana ia mungkin akan menjejaskan permainannya.

''Saya berharap dapat beraksi esok walaupun dibelenggu kecederaan demi memastikan pasukan dapat meraih tiga mata yang kami harapkan," katanya.

MHL : Tenaga to play defensively against leaders Ernst and Young

Tenaga Nasional seem to know exactly what they have to do to stop league champions Ernst and Young when they clash at the KL Hockey Stadium tonight.

Tenaga coach Lailin Abu Hassan said they would adopt a defensive approach to stop the free-scoring Ernst and Young in this Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Division One top-of-the-table clash.

It is vital for Tenaga, who have eight points, to reel in Ernst and Young, who lead the standings with 12 points, as the Division One race reaches the halfway stage today.

A win for Ernst and Young could see them go five points clear if third-placed Sapura also falter in their match against the National Juniors today.

Lailin said it would be risky to play an open game against Ernst and Young, who have scored 20 goals in four matches.

“We have to be cautious and rely on counter attacks to get the goals,” he said yesterday.

“Ernst and Young are a complete team with good all-round strength. It will be foolish to play an open game against them. They have capable midfielders and forwards who can all score.”

Tenaga, who have two wins and two draws thus far, were a big disappointment last weekend when they dropped four points.

Lailin’s team have been playing an exciting brand of attacking game, with their players going on the attack right from the word go.

But they have also been leaking in goals and that cost them dearly last week.

Against Sapura, they were leading 1-0 with minutes to go when they let in a late goal to end up sharing points. Then, against Maybank they played a similar game and had to come from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw.

“We have players who are good going forward but our problem lies with our finishing. The players are missing too many chances,” said Lailin.

“Against Ernst and Young we cannot allow them to take the lead. They have players who can hurt us ... we cannot give them space to attack us. We have to be careful at the back.”

Tenaga and Ernst and Young will each be missing their star forwards in S. Selvaraju and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin respectively. Both players are injured.

But it shouldn’t be a problem as both players have not featured for their teams since the MHL started on Oct 17 .

Meanwhile, last season’s Division Two champions Nur Insafi will be gunning for their first win in the top flight when the play Maybank today.

The Penang team, who have nine foreign players, have lost all four matches thus far and will be hoping for a change of fortune as the first round of matches come to an end.