Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Selvaraju wants to continue playing in Germany

National forward S. Sel­va­raju wants to return to Germany in April to continue playing in their hockey league.

The 23-year-old Perak player said that Berliner manager Jurgen Haner was happy with his performance and would be glad if he could return to the team.

Selvaraju was with the Division One club last September and scored seven goals in 10 matches.

“Haner e-mailed me a few days ago asking me to come back in April. I am interested in continuing to play in the German League as it has helped me build up my confidence in scoring goals,’’ he said.

Selvaraju added that the German League season had not ended because it started only after the Beijing Olympics last August and matches could not be completed before the winter break in late October.

“The competition will resume in April,’’ said Selvaraju, who has 36 international caps to his credit.

Selvaraju is in his second season in the German League.

He was with Moenchengladbach in 2006 and scored five goals in 12 matches.

However, it is doubtful that Selvaraju will get to complete the season with Berliner.

“The national team will play in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April and the national team management may not want to release me to play in the German League,’’ said Selvaraju, who played for Tenaga Nasional in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), which ended last week.

The national team will resume training next week and they will also be preparing for the Asia Cup in Dubai in May.

The Asia Cup winners gain direct entry to the 2010 World Cup Finals in India and if Malaysia fail to win the championship, they will have to feature in a qualifying tournament in November.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Malaysia unlikely to snare a top-notch hockey coach

Malaysia have been unable to attract a top-notch foreign coaches to handle their national hockey team and may have to settle for a lesser known club coach from either Europe or Australia.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) want to fill the post as soon as possible even though they have put a three-man interim coaching set-up in place. And the National Sports Council (NSC) have stepped in to help them hire the coach.

The NSC director general, Datuk Zolkples Embong, said yesterday that they had spoken to a number of top-notch coaches but they were committed to other projects.

“We have a few names to consider at the moment but they are not among the top-notch coaches who we had sought after. Some are with clubs in Europe. Our priority is to get a foreign coach. For the moment, the interim coaches will take charge of the national team’s preparations,” he said.

The interim coaches appointed on Saturday are Tai Beng Hai, Nor Saiful Zaini and Lailin Abu Hassan.

South Korean Kim Sang-ryul was top on the list of foreign coaches for the national team. But he has decided to stay in China to chart the fortunes of a provincial side for the China Games next year.

Among the others were two Australians and a Dutchman. Barry Dancer, an Olympic gold medal winning coach, has taken up an offer with the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) while Mark Hager has gone to New Zealand.

Maurits Hendrik has left the Spanish national team to return to Holland.

“We are left without much choice. The Asia Cup is five months away and we must get cracking. My hope is to fill the post within the next two weeks,” said Zolkples.

The national team will play in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April followed by the Asia Cup in Dubai. The Asia Cup winners gain direct entry to the 2010 World Cup Finals in India and if Malaysia fail to win the championship, they have to play in a qualifying tournament in November.

The national team are also down to play in the Champions Challenge II tournament in July in Dublin.

MHF to introduce new tourney for clubs and districts

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) will introduce a new tournament next year for clubs and districts in the country.

The knockout tournament scheduled to start in February is likely to have the biggest number of teams in the fray on the domestic scene. And those eligible to compete are teams affiliated to either the MHF or their affiliates (states and districts).

The MHF competitions competition chairman, Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohamed Ariff, said: “This is an open concept. We want as many teams to enter to make it a truly nationwide competition. It does not matter if they are not competing in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

“We do not have a knockout championships at the national level and teams can look forward to competing in this new tournament.”

The format will see an open draw with teams playing on a home-and-away basis.

To overcome the problem of lack of artificial turfs in certain areas, the committee have decided to allow matches to be played on grass pitches.

“But teams with no artificial turf to host matches will have to prepare good grass pitches for the matches. We want to ensure that teams get to play in their own backyard and to garner support for their campaign. Small clubs can still play at the national level with little expenses,” said Rahim.

He added that the MHF would name the tournament to give it a separate identity.

All affiliates will be informed of the tournament dates soon and registration will be done next month.

The plan is to run the tournament over a period of 10 months.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New name for new year

Ernst and Young’s double victory in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) could not have come at a better time for them. They are set to become history in the MHL.

Team manager George Koshy said that he was in the process of forming a new club to effectively replace Ernst and Young.

“There will be a new name but the players from Ernst and Young will move to the new club,” he said yesterday.

“One of the reasons for this is the offer to me to be the national team manager. If I accept it, there will be a conflict of interest. And in line with the thinking of the MHF leadership, it may be a good time to set up a professional hockey club in Malaysia.”

Ernst and Young started out in the MHL as Arthur Andersen in 2000 before changing their banner the following year. They have featured in seven finals for the overall title but only managed to land the title last Saturday. They were the league champions for the last three years.

Koshy added that they were working on the set-up for the new club and have yet to decide whether they would be an off-shoot of the KLHA or remain a separate entity.

“Details will be worked out soon. We are for the forming of professional clubs in Malaysia. But if you look at the current set-up, the players are professionals but the clubs are employer-based,” he said.

“I’m happy to note that the MHF have agreed to a single league next year. It is the right way to go to develop hockey.”

Last Saturday, Ernst and Young beat Sapura 5-4 on penalties in the final after extra time failed to resolve a 2-2 deadlock. It is the third consecutive year that the final was decided in a shootout.

The National Juniors were given a place in Division One this year but as in previous seasons, the competitions were dominated by Ernst and Young, Sapura, Maybank and Tenaga Nasional. If the other teams do not put in greater effort to improve their side, it will be the same four-horse race.

Even promoted Nur Insafi, with nine foreigners, lacked the experience to play in Division One and registered just one win in 12 matches.

It now remains to be seen how a new single league format will help improve the standard of Malaysian hockey with better quality matches to appeal to the fans.

It was good to note that the final between Ernst and Young and Sapura was given live TV coverage. Hopefully, this will become a regular feature to generate greater interest in the game outside the Klang Valley.

Beng Hai game for new challenge

Former international Tai Beng Hai is ready to accept the challenge of being the interim coach of the national hockey team.

Beng Hai is under the employment of the National Sports Council (NSC) and his secondment to the national women’s hockey team since last January expires on Wednesday.

The former National Juniors coach said that he was told by the NSC last week to be on stand-by to move back to the men’s team.

“I have not been told of my duties. I only learnt of the appointment through the newspapers’” said Beng Hai yesterday.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) are still looking for a foreign coach to take over from Sarjit Singh, whose contract with the NSC has not been renewed.

Last Saturday, the MHF named three coaches to oversee the preparation of the national team until the job of chief coach is filled. The other two coaches selected were Tenaga Nasional’s Nor Saiful Zaini and Lailin Abu Hassan.

Beng Hai was initially given the task to train the National Juniors in 2006. But a string of poor results saw him being removed in October 2007 by the MHF.

“I have no problem coming back to the men’s team. I need to find out if it is just a temporary move. I will also have to talk to the NSC about my contract,” he said.

The national team will resume training next week and their first assignment is the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in April followed by the Asia Cup in May.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

MHL : Ernst and Young land elusive MHL overall title in seventh attempt

Ernst and Young finally nailed an elusive Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) overall title in their seventh attempt.

But it was a close call for them as they blew a two-goal lead to allow Sapura to force a 2-2 draw and take the match into a penalty shootout. But their better pick of players for the shootout allowed them to scrap through for a 5-4 win.

Ernst and Young were playing in their sixth consecutive final. They were also the finalists in 2001. In the last two years, they were beaten in the final on a shootout. But they prevailed this time with the tournament’s top scorer, Baljit Singh, scoring the winner.

Sapura fought back with Jiwa Mohan starring for them with two late goals to salvage the match. They also held out in extra time. But it all ended when K. Keevan Raj saw his last flick saved by goalkeeper Khairul Nizam Ibrahim.

Before that Sapura had scored through Jiwa, Song Seung-tae, Mohamed Redza Maadun and S. Shanker.

For Ernst and Young, the players who converted their flicks were Mohamed Shukri Mutalib, Nabil Fiqri Mohamed Nor, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Kelvinder Singh.

In winning the overall title, Ernst and Young also became the seventh team to clinch the double after Kilat Club (Tenaga), Maybank, Yayasan Negri Sembilan, MPPJ, Bank Simpanan Nasional and Sapura. Ernst and Young were also the winners of the Asian Champion Clubs tournament last month.

But it could all have gone wrong for them yesterday as Sapura made a late surge.

Ernst and Young drew first blood in the 27th minute when Baljit made sure of his flick from a penalty corner set piece. That saw them gaining in confidence but they failed to increase their lead in the first half.

In the 41st minute, Ernst and Young scored their second goal with Mohamed Shahrun Nabil turning in a cross into the D by Chua Boon Huat.

Sapura fought back and Jiwa Mohan scored a field goal in the 56th minute to put pressure on the league champions. Before that, Sapura had muffed four penalty corner chances. But just as the match was heading for a Ernst and Young victory, Sapura earned a penalty corner in the 68th minute and Jiwa made no mistake with his attempt to send the match into extra time.

Friday, December 26, 2008

MHF plan to set up single league structure

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) competitions committee will begin the process of merging the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) with the Junior league for next year today.

The proposal to create a single league structure in Malaysian hockey will mean that the junior and senior leagues will be run simultaneously and over a longer period of time.

All the state competitions secretaries will attend the meeting and a time limit is expected to be set to move their proposal forward.

States are expected to provide the feedback on the move and also to gauge their respective affiliates’ reaction to the merger.

With the MHL ending today the competitions committee want to start the next league in February. However, the committee should consider the fact of rushing to make the move without taking into consideration the implication of a single league.

Most of the teams in the MHL and the Junior League are basically Klang Valley teams. Thus creating a single league would mean nothing if the other states do not put up a team.

For example, in Division One of the MHL, Nur Insafi from Penang, are the only non-Klang Valley team. And in Division Two four teams are from outside the Klang Valley. To have a truly national league the committee must look at ensuring greater participation from the states.

The idea of a single league has received the thumbs up from the MHL clubs and this will help the committee to forge ahead smoothly.

The issue of junior players being deprived of playing in the senior league also does not hold water as only 21 players were in the Under-19 age category in Division One. And 15 of them played for the national juniors in Division One.

In Division Two, 64 players were in the Under-19 age category with 22 from the Bandar Penawar Sports School and 21 from Bukit Jalil Sports School. These teams however will play at the junior level which means they may be playing in Division Three or Four of the proposed new league. The other categories in the new league will mostly likely be called Premier, Division One and Division Two.

As the committee mull over the proposal they must also give thought to their calendar for next year as the national team and the national juniors have their plate full in the first six months.

MHL : Ernst and Young out to discard their bridesmaid tag

One team will be out to bag the elusive overall title while the other are keen to to re-establish their credentials as the country’s top hockey club in today’s Malaysia Hockey League final.

Finalists Ernst and Young (E&Y) and Sapura have the best available talents in Malaysians hockey but it would not mean an entertaining final.

E&Y will be playing in their sixth consecutive final and have yet to get the mix to win.

Sapura, winners in 2005 and 2006, have a team of aging stars but have shown they still have what it takes to be at the top.

Thus the final could be a classic affair with good hockey or a dull game with a solitary goal separating the winner.

Playing bridesmaid on seven occasions (they were also in the 2001 final) can affect the morale of any team. So for today’s final, E&Y’s fight will not be just with their opponents but themselves.

Their team manager George Koshy said E&Y have what it takes to win but pointed out that coming out with that little extra in the final has been the missing ingredient.

He is convinced that the players marching out for the final will be aware of the pitfalls and will be better prepared for the challenge.

“I do not see what more we could have done in the past. Surely over the years we have got better and I believe the players are capable of winning the title.

“But having said that I also acknowledge that our form in the knock-out stage had been far from being convincing. We are lucky to be in the final and we must make good use of the chances that have come our way to grab the overall title,” said Koshy.

In the preliminary round Ernst and Young had beaten Sapura twice.

Sapura coach K. Embaraj has dismissed those results saying the final will be a different ball game.

“For me it is simply the better team on the day will triumph. Everything comes down to the next 70 minutes and just one mistake is all it takes to be a winner or a loser.

“Both sides have experienced players and this battle could go all way,” said Embaraj.

Tactics will be crucial and both teams may well start off cautiously before pushing up for the goals.

Sapura of late have been more adventurous with their moves and their speed play has provided them with crucial wins.

But E&Y have the ability to click as a team but their biggest flaw lies with their inability to convert their chances.

They have a strike force full of internationals — Chua Boon Huat, Ismail Abu, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Azlan Misron — on their day can sizzle. But they have not been that effective thus far. They also have other young strikers like Craig Fernandez, Nabil Fiqri, Mohamed Amerullah and Azli Misron.

But the players who could turn the match around for them is either Mohamed Razie or Baljit Singh who specialise in penalty corner flicks.

Sapura’s top penalty corner specialist S. Kuhan is a doubtful starter but they have in Jiwa Mohan a capable replacement for the set-piece moves. Further more their South Korean important Song Seong-tae and Kim Jung-chul have fitted in well and are capable of delivering the goals.

This is a match where there is no shortage of star players to chart their team’s fortunes in the final.

But it could be dull affair if these players do not rise to the occasion. There is ample motivation to win and as Koshy aptly puts it the players must have the hunger to win.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

MHL : Maybank to lose Fadzil’s service for playoff

Maybank will not have the services of defender Mohd Fadzli Anuar in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) third-place playoff match against Tenaga Nasional at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Johorean will be getting married on the same day.

Coach S. Velappan said that Fadzli played exceptionally well against league champions Ernst and Young in the semi-final second-leg match last Sunday and his absence against Tenaga would be sorely felt.

“The final and third-place playoff matches were initially scheduled for Dec 21 and Fadzli set Dec 27 as his wedding date. But at the draw, the MHF (Malaysian Hockey Federation) changed the date because of a clash with the Asean University Games (Dec 15-21),’’ Velappan said.

Velappan said that Abdul Sukur Adam would take over Fadzli’s role in defence. The other defenders in the team are K. Gobinathan, Engku Abdul Malik Engku Mohamed and Azrul Effendy Bistaman.

He added that Maybank were unlucky to lose to Ernst and Young in the semi-finals.

“We lost the first-leg match 1-2 but fought back to level the aggregate score at 2-2 in the second leg, only to concede a golden goal. My players are all fired up to get the better of Tenaga to finish third,’’ said Velappan.

The two matches in the league between Maybank and Tenaga both ended in 2-2 draws. The Tigers finished fourth in Division One and Tenaga were placed one rung above.

“We expect another tough match on Saturday. But the pressure will be on Tenaga as they have to salvage some pride after failing in the defence of the overall title,’’ said Velappan.

MHL : Defenders Baljit and Amin vying for top scorer award

Ernst and Young’s Baljit Singh Sarjab and Tenaga Nasional’s Mohd Amin Rahim are in the race for the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) top scorer’s award.

Both the national defenders have scored 12 goals each — from penalty corners.

The 21-year-old Baljit, who has 36 international caps to his credit, gets the chance to increase his tally in the final against Sapura at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium on Saturday.

He was the hero for Ernst and Young in the semi-final second-leg match against Maybank last Sunday, scoring the golden goal in the 76th minute to give the Division One champions a 3-2 aggregate win.

Tenaga, meanwhile, will bank on veteran Amin to deliver the goals against Maybank in the playoff for third place at the same venue on Saturday.

Ernst and Young will be out to nail the overall title after failing at the final hurdle on five previous occasions.

“I want to score on Saturday to help my team win the overall title for the first time. I also wants to win the top scorer’s award for the first time in MHL,” said Baljit, who has been with Ernst and Young since 2003.

Baljit has emerged as the top scorer before in other domestic competitions. He scored 23 goals for Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) to earn the award in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) in 2006. In Division One of the Razak Cup last year, he scored 12 goals to help Johor win the title.

Ernst and Young will be gunning for a third title this season after their success in Division One of the MHL and the Asian Champion Clubs (ACC) tournament.

They will be playing against Sapura for the third time in the MHL. In the two matches in the leagues, they beat Sapura 2-1 and 2-0 and Baljit scored one of the goals in the first match.

“I am the top scorer of the team and in the final, the pressure will be on me to deliver goals,’’ said Baljit, who scored only one goal in the MHL last season.

The 28-year-old Amin said that he was disappointed for failing to help defending overall champions Tenaga reach the final.

“My mission now is to help Tenaga finish third and also to become the top scorer for the second time in the MHL,’’ said Amin, who was tops with 30 goals for Ernst and Young in 2006.

MHF turn down offer to host World Cup qualifiers

The Malaysia Hockey Federation (MHF) have declined the international federation’s (FIH) offer to host one of the World Cup qualifying tournaments in November because it is too costly to stage it.

A total of 18 teams will be involved in three qualifying tournaments and only the winners get places in the World Cup Finals. Eight teams gain direct entries from their continental championships while India are automatic qualifiers by virtue of being the hosts.

France will host the first qualifying tournament in Lille from Oct 24-Nov 1 and New Zealand will stage the second one in Auckland from Nov 7-15. The third qualifying tournament is likely to be held in an Asian country.

Malaysia are likely to play in the qualifiers unless they win the Asia Cup tournament, which will be held in Dubai from May 8-15.

The MHF deputy president, Nur Azmi Ahmad, said yesterday that it was not financially viable to host the qualifying tournament.

“We hosted the Champions Trophy last year and we are still saddled with debts. We want to be prudent and we feel that the national team can reach their target even if they have to play elsewhere,” he added.

Next year, Malaysia will jointly host the Junior World Cup Finals scheduled for June 7-21 together with Singapore. The matches will be played in Johor Baru.

In April, the annual Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament will be held in Ipoh.

“We have our hands full with several international tournaments. Our priority is to ensure that the national teams are well-prepared for the challenges,” said Nur Azmi.

Final : Sapura skipper Kuhan doubtful for final

Sapura’s talismanic skipper S. Kuhan is injured and it could turn out to be a major setback for them in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) final against Ernst and Young at the KL Hockey Stadium on Saturday.

The 31-year-old Kuhan injured his ankle in the semi-final second-leg match against Tenaga Nasional. He was taken out of the match after scoring the first goal for Sapura.

In his absence, Jiwa Mohan took over the duties as the team’s penalty corner flicker and he scored the important second goal in the match that put Sapura through to the final.

Sapura went into the match holding a 3-1 lead from the first leg but Tenaga tied the aggregate score at 4-4 to force extra time. Then Jiwa scored the golden goal to give Sapura a third appearance in the MHL final.

As Kuhan remains a doubtful starter for the final, Sapura coach K. Embaraj is taking a positive look at the situation and feels that it will get the other players to increase their workload.

Kuhan, who is also the team’s top scorer with seven goals, will undergo a fitness test on Friday.

“There is no doubt that Kuhan is a big asset to the team with his ability in set-piece moves and his leadership qualities. The injury appears to be serious but we hope that he can recover well enough to be part of the final,” said Embaraj.

“If he is out, we hope that we can cope well in his absence with senior players like Jiwa, K. Keevan Raj, Maninderjit Singh, K. Logan Raj and S. Shanker carrying the burden of guiding the other players.

“We have enough experience in our side. The team need to play their normal game and not allow the pressure to get to them.”

Sapura were winners in 2005 and 2006 but lost in the semi-finals last year to Tenaga. For Embaraj, the match on Saturday will be his first final as a coach.

Embaraj neither sees his side nor Ernst and Young starting as the favourites and feels that the outcome of the match will be decided on the form of the day.

“Our preparation this week is mainly on mental tune-up. There is nothing much we can work on in other areas at this stage. It is for the players to win it if they can handle the pressure well,” he said.

“Ernst and Young have a hugely experienced and talented side. We cannot afford to give them space to attack and we also have to keep the mistakes down. It is important for us to succeed here if we are to win the match.”

Two players whom Embaraj said could turn the final for them are their two foreign players — South Koreans Song Seung-tae and Kim Jung-chul.

“They are fast and have contributed a lot to our run this season. One of them could turn out to be the match winner. They support our players well and they have a tireless work rate,” he said.

Seong-tae has six goals to his credit while Jung-chul has scored four.

Monday, December 22, 2008

MHL : E&Y lack sting

After their great escape from defeat in the semi-finals, league champions Ernst and Young need to get their forwards to sharpen up their finishing if they are to land the elusive overall title in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

Ernst and Young will be playing against Sapura in the final on Saturday. It will be their sixth consecutive final and they do not want to suffer the agony of trooping out as the losers again.

Coach K. Dharmaraj said that they needed to be prepared for a tough match against Sapura and they could not afford to let slip chances to score as they did against Maybank in the two-leg semi-final tie.

Ernst and Young dominated both matches against Maybank but muffed a host of clear-cut chances. They drew blanks in regulation time of the second-leg match and scored a golden goal to put them through to the final 3-2 on aggregate.

“In our matches in the knockout stage, we had plenty of chances to score field goals and to convert penalty corners. But the scoring rate was poor and we were certainly lucky to beat Maybank in the semi-finals,” said Dharmaraj.

“Sapura will not be so charitable in the final. The slightest mistake can be very costly for us. We have played in six finals and each time we lost because we made one mistake or another. This is going to be a tough match and we need to be good all-round.”

Ernst and Young qualified for their first final in 2001 and were beaten by Bank Simpanan Nasional. They featured in every final from 2003 and were beaten thrice by Sapura (2003-05-06) and twice by Tenaga Nasional (2004-07).

Dharmaraj said that except for the injured Zulkifli Rejab, Ernst and Young had a squad at full strength for the final and his main worry was the mental strength of the players.

“All the players have played in a final before and were losers. They want to break the jinx and they have to handle the pressure well and fight hard. We are looking for a breakthrough win to help us cope better in future. And I believe the players can do it,” he said.

Dharmaraj is again looking at Baljit Singh and Mohamed Razie to be effective in their execution off penalty corners.

“Both players are young and they have done reasonably well in matches. I hope to see them perform just as well in the final. We will try to play our normal game. Sapura have enough experience to match us and it should be a close match,” he said.

Baljit is the team’s leading corer with 12 goals and he shares the top spot on the tournament top scorer’s list with Tenaga’s Mohamed Amin Rahim.

Ernst and Young also have the most potent strikeforce in the MHL with Chua Boon Huat, Ismail Abu, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Azlan Misron and Nabil Fiqri getting on target.

But the team need to hit the right note together. Otherwise the overall title may remain a dream for yet another year.

Asia Cup : South Korea regain junior crown after beating China

South Korea regained the women’s Junior Asia Cup when they beat China 2-0 in the final at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium here yesterday.

The Koreans, winners in 1992, 1996 and 2000, had lost their grip on the Cup to the Chinese in 2004.

Yesterday, they exacted revenge with an easy win. Both the Korean goals came in the second half through Lee Soo-kyung (50th) and skipper Han Tae-jeon (59th).

The tournament offered three places to the women’s Junior World Cup Finals, which will be held in Boston next year. India claim the third spot to the Finals with a 3-1 victory over Japan 3-1 in a playoff for third place.

The Indians scored their goals through Soundrya Yendala, Vandana Katanya and Anuradha Dewi while Japan’s replied through Minori Yoshida.

The Indians were also placed third in the previous tournament. In the playoff for fifth place, Malaysia beat Singapore 4-0.

MHL : E&Y and Sapura in final

Ernst and Young and Sapura needed extra time in their semi-final second-leg matches yesterday to secure place in the final of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

Both teams held advantages from the first leg matches on Friday but their opponents hit back to level the aggregate score at full time of the return matches.

Ernst and Young, who beat Maybank 2-1 in the first leg, allowed Maybank to level the aggregate score in the 40th minute, conceding a penalty corner goal to Hairul Nizam. But the Division One champions scored the golden goal in the 76th minute though Baljit Singh to put them through to the finals 3-2 on aggregate.

Sapura led Tenaga 3-1 from the first leg but allowed the defending champions to level the aggregate at 4-4. The golden goal that took Sapura into the final came off a 75th minute penalty corner strike from Jiwa Mohan.

The final between Ernst and Young and Sapura will be played on Dec 27 at the KL Hockey Stadium.

Maybank coach S. Vellapan was disappointed over at not getting the desired result after having taken the fight to the Ernst and Young.

“The players did well to keep them in check and we could have taken the game had we had better finishing,” he said after the match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

“It was good game and the players deserve credit for not allowing their more experienced opponents intimidate them. It was good all-around effort and we are proud of the players.”

At the KL Hockey Stadium, Tenaga came out with their gun blazing and they levelled the aggregate score just 10 minutes into the match.

Mohamed Amin Rahim scored in the fifth minute off a penalty corner and S. Selvaraju added the second in the ninth minute off a field attempt. Sapura regained the lead through S. Kuhan in the 19th minute but Amin took the match into extra time with a 66th minute goal.

Sapura could have wrapped up the game in the 48th minute when they had a penalty stroke awarded for an infringement but S. Shanker blew it with a weak flick, which goalkeeper S. Kumar had no problem saving it.

Sapura finally prevailed with a 75th minute goal from their senior player, Jiwa, to take them into the final 5-4 on aggregate.

National coach to be named in Jan

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) will announce the national team’s new coach early next month.

Its president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said he had a list of names of several coaches from Asia, Europe and Australia.

“However, I cannot make any announcement yet as these coaches are still contracted to their respective countries.

“It will be announced once we have clearance,” he told reporters after officially opening a convention on astronomy here on Monday.

He also said all the candidates were foreigners, adding that the team had had Malaysian coaches prior to this and this change was being made based on the advice of the MHF and National Sports Council (NSC).

“Their approach, training and tactics may be different. They also have more experience in coaching,” he said of the foreign coaches.

Last month, it was reported that the MHF had decided not to renew the contracts of national coach Sarjit Singh and his assistants Gurmit Singh and Shahid Ali Khan, the last from Pakistan.

Sarjit and Gurmit’s contracts ended in December while goalkeeping coach Shahid’s had already expired.

Former South Korea coach Kim Sang-ryul has been widely tipped to take over as the Malaysian national coach.

The national senior team had come under fire following their failure to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Semi Finals : Ernst & Young in upbeat mood ahead of return leg

League champions Ernst and Young are not too bothered about going into today’s Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) semi-final return-leg with just a slim 2-1 lead over Maybank.

That’s because they’ll be playing on familiar ground — the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil — and that, they feel, suits their game plan just fine.

Ernst and Young could not get their attacking game going in the first-leg at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium on Friday, needing a last-minute goal to beat Maybank 2-1.

But team manager George Koshy vowed yesterday that they would go on the offensive in the return leg as the pitch at Bukit Jalil was conducive to attacking play.

“I expect my players to do better as we should be able to play our normal game at the National Hockey Stadium. A one-goal lead is never enough so we will attack and go for goals right from the start,” he said.

Matches between Ernst and Young and Maybank this season have all been close, with the Tigers using their counter-attacking strategy to good effect against the league champions.

“They are most dangerous on the counter. We expect them to play a more open game in the return-leg as they too need to score goals. This will suit us but, at the same time, we need to be careful not to under-estimate them,” said Koshy.

Penalty corner specialist Zulkifli Rejab, who missed the first-leg, is again doubtful for Ernst and Young after aggravating an old leg injury. But they have Baljit Singh Sarjab and Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, who are both just as deadly from penalty corner setpieces.

Maybank coach S. Vellapan has promised to give favourites Ernst and Young a hard fight.

“We can overcome the one-goal deficit if we match them in all departments,” he said.

The other semi-final sees Sapura, holding a 3-1 lead over defending champions Tenaga Nasional, starting as favourites to make the Dec 27 final.

Sapura played a fast game in the first leg and took their chances well. Tenaga will need to cut off Sapura’s long passes and get more players up front to put away their chances.

Tenaga’s knack of fighting back from the odds will be fully tested today.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Semi Finals : Semi-final drama is far from over

The Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) semi-finals are far from done and dusted after yesterday’s closely-foughtfirst-leg ties.

League champions Ernst and Young needed a last-minute goal to tame Maybank 2-1 at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium while Sapura overcame Tenaga Nasional 3-1 at the KL Hockey Stadium.

The return-legs, set for tomorrow, are sure to be explosive affairs given the slim advantages of Ernst and Young and Sapura.

Ernst and Young dominated the proceedings in their match against Maybank and took the lead in the 39th minute through Ismail Abu.

But the Tigers hit back just three minutes later — thanks to Hafifihafiz Hanafi.

With just a minute to go, youngster Mohd Razie restored Ernst and Young’s advantage.

Maybank coach S. Vellapan was happy with his boys’ performance and felt they should have held on for a draw.

“The champions dominated but we kept them at bay for long periods.

“This tie is not over and we still have 70 minutes to go on Sunday,” said Vellapan.

“The champions may have the advantage but we will give it a real go.”

In the other match, Tenaga went on the offensive right from the first whistle to take the lead in the 25th minute through Zaharin Zakaria.

Three minutes later Sapura were back on level terms with a field goal by Jivan Mohan.

S. Kuhan then made it 2-1 for Sapura off a penalty corner set piece in the 35th minute.

Sapura then took advantage of an error in Tenaga’s backline to make it 3-1 through South Korean Song Seung-tae in the 40th minute.

The final will be held on Dec 27.

First-leg semi-final results

Maybank 1 Ernst and Young 2

Tenaga Nasional 1 Sapura 3.

Tomorrow's 2nd leg fixtures

Ernst and Young vs Maybank

(National Hockey Stadium, 5.00pm)

Sapura vs Tenaga Nasional

(KL Hockey Stadium, 5.00pm)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Semi Finals : Semi-finalists will likely be decided in the return leg

Today’s Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) semi-finals may throw up two contrasting matches but one thing is for certain — none of them will take the other for granted.

Many see league champions Ernst and Young’s clash against Maybank as an easy tie for the former and expect the other semi-final between defending champions Tenaga Nasional and Sapura to be more closely contested.

However, all four teams feel that both the semi-finals will go right down to the wire and will only be decided in the return leg on Sunday.

Tenaga team manager Nor Saiful Zaini said there was no way any of the teams would let their guards down at this stage.

“The knockout stage always provides a different setting and teams tend to rise to the occasion when the chips are down,” he said.

“So there are no favourites for me. Sapura have experience on their side, having played at this level regularly. They know what sort of pressure to expect and I’m sure they have planned their strategies. This will be a close tie and I will not be surprised if it goes all the way to Sunday.”

Tenaga, who are the most successful team in the MHL — having won 10 titles since 1987, have the personnel to get the job done in players like S. Kumar, Mohd Amin Rahim, Mohd Madzli Ikmar, Tajol Rosli, M. Kalisweran, Fairuz Ramli and S. Selvaraju.

But Sapura also have vastly experienced player — like S. Kuhan, Maninderjit Singh, Jiwa Mohan, Jivan Mohan and the South Korean duo of Song Seong-tae and Kim Jung-chul — to trouble Tenaga.

The other match, if it goes according to form, should see Ernst and Young cantering into the final.

They have enough firepower to get the goals and a rock-solid defence to hold the Tigers at bay.

Maybank have had two close matches with the champions and are hoping that, with a little luck, they could be third time lucky.

In the preliminary rounds, Ernst and Young won 1-0 and 4-3.

Maybank coach S. Vellapan is confident his players will raise their game and give Ernst and Young a fight.

“It is not over until the final whistle. Ernst and Young are favourites but we have nothing to lose. We are injury-free and I plan to spring a surprise on them over the two legs,” he said.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Asia Cup : Pride on the line against Pakistan

Malaysia will go all out to chalk up a win over Pakistan today to salvage some pride in the women’s Junior Asia Cup hockey tournament at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium.

After having lost the first two Group A matches against Japan (1-2) and defending champions China (0-3), Malaysia are out of the race to get among the top four in the nine-team tournament.

“We are now looking at finishing among the top six and we have to beat Pakistan. They were thrashed 0-17 by Japan and we have a good chance to get the better of them,” said coach Yahya Atan.

“My players have promised to give their best. Penalty corner hitter Nurul Nadia (Mokhtar) scored a goal against Japan and I am counting on her the deliver the goals against Pakistan,” said Yahya.

Pakistan have three points from a win over Thailand (2-1). Malaysia’s final group fixture is against Thailand on Thursday.

Japan, meanwhile, book their place in the semi-finals by chalking up their third consecutive win yesterday, beating Thailand 15-0.

The top three teams in the tournament will represent Asia in the Junior World Cup Finals in Boston schedule for Aug 3-18.

Group A: Japan 15 Thailand 0.

Group B: India 2 South Korea 3.

Group A: Japan vs China (4pm), Pakistan vs Malaysia (8pm).

Group B: South Korea vs Singapore (6pm).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Asia Cup : Malaysia go down fighting against China

Malaysia gave defending champions China a good fight before going down 0-3 in a women’s Junior Asia Cup hockey Group A match at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium yesterday.

It was Malaysia’s second defeat in the tournament after a 1-2 loss to Japan in the opening match last Saturday.

China, who thrashed Thailand 18-0 in their opening match last Monday, took a lead with a fifth-minute penalty corner conversion by Wang Mengyu. And six minutes later, Huang Ting scored off another penalty corner.

China kept up the pressure but had to wait until the 64th minute to score their third goal with a ttempt from close range by Zhang Wenting.

National coach Yahya Atan said that he was satisfied the team managed to deal with the Chinese fast attacking play to keep a low margin of defeat.

“They were also physically much bigger and stronger than our players. It was a good learning experience for the team. But with the defeat, our hopes of finishing among the top four are over,” he said.

Malaysia will play against Pakistan tomorrow and they wrap up their group fixtures against Thailand on Thursday.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Indoor Hockey : Malaysia go down narrowly against Iran in final

Malaysia put up a strong challenge against favourites Iran before going down 2-3 in the final of the inaugural men’s indoor Asia Cup hockey tournament at the Indera Mulia Stadium here yesterday.

In the preliminary round-robin match last Friday, Malaysia were thrashed 0-7 by the Iranians.

In the final yesterday, Karimi Mohammed gave Iran the lead in the 12th minute but four minutes later, Malaysia equalised through S. Kuhan off a penalty stroke.

Iran regained the lead in the second half through Malik Ahmadi in the 30th minute. Malaysia had the chance to equalise again two minutes later but Kuhan failed to convert the penalty stroke. Iran increased the lead through Bohlouli Masoud in 39th minute and a minute later, Kuhan converted a penalty corner to reduce the deficit.

Malaysia’s team manager Kenneth Pereira said that he was satisfied with the team for giving a strong performance in the final.

“The players played to instruction and matched the experienced Iranians in every department.

We were just unlucky not to convert a penalty stroke in the second half. I am overall happy with the players’ commitment in the tournament,’’ he said.

Uzbekistan defeated Malaysia B 5-2 to bag the bronze medal. The scorers for Uzbekistan were Nasurdaer Nariman (1st, 23rd), Sibear Romen (17th, 31st) and Qalendarov Golib (13th). Malaysia B replied through Mohd Hafiz Zakaria (9th) and G. Sasidharan (35th).

Singapore came back from a goal down to edged Thailand 3-1 in the playoff for fifth place.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Indoor Hockey : Five-star Kuhan leads Malaysia to rout Singapore

Malaysia outplayed Singapore 8-1 to qualify for the final in the inaugural men’s Indoor Asia Cup hockey tournament at the Indera Mulia Stadium in Ipoh yesterday.

Malaysia finished the six-team round-robin tournament in second place with four wins and a defeat.

Malaysia will face favourites Iran in the final.

Iran, who won the gold in the second Indoor Asian Games in Macau last year, had won all their five matches.

S. Kuhan was the toast of the Malaysian team in the match against Singapore, scoring five goals in the 10th, 23rd, 26th, 30th and 36th minutes. Mohd Rodhanizam Mat Radzi (8th), P. Prabahkaran (9th) and Jiwa Mohan (21st) were the other goal scorers.

Mohd Ibrahim Hazmi replied for Singapore in the 31st minute.

Malaysia B, who lost to Iran 1-5, will face Uzbekistan in the play-off for the bronze medal.

Singapore will meet Thailand in the fifth place play-off.


Malaysia B 1 Iran 5, Thailand 1 Uzbekistan 9, Singapore 1 Malaysia 8

> Today’s matches

Fifth placing: Singapore vs Thailand (2pm)

Third placing: Uzbekistan vs Malaysia B (3.30pm)

Final: Iran vs Malaysia (5pm)

MHL : Knockout Stage

Maybank booked their place in the semi-final with a convincing 5-3 win over Nur Insafi in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) quarter-final second-leg match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The Tigers qualify for the last four with a 6-3 aggregate. Maybank won the first-leg match 1-0 on Wednesday in Penang. They will take on league champions Ernst and Young in the semi-finals.

Defending overall champions Tenaga Nasional meet league runners-up Sapura in the other semi-finals.The first-leg semi-final matches will be played on Dec 19 with the return-leg on Dec 21.

In yesterday’s match, Maybank surprised Nur Insafi by taking the lead in the very first minute through Hafifihafiz Hanafi. Eight minutes later Hafifi was on target again off a penalty corner setpiece.

The Tigers made it 3-0 in the 27th minute when K. Gobinathan’s through pass was well connected into goal by Suhaimi Ibrahim.

However, Nur Insafi did not give up and fought back to score two goals through Ramesh Kumar in the 31st and Kul Bhusan Vashist in the 47th minute to reduce the deficit at 2-3.

But the Tigers score two quick goals in the space of eight minutes to increase their lead to 5-2. Gobinathan scored off a penalty corner in the 52nd minute and eight minutes later Chairil Anwar scored from close range.

Nur Insafi scored their third goal in the last minute through Nur Hrsikesa Mohd Murni.

Maybank coach S. Velappan said that he was delighted with his players for taking their chances well.

“I am impressed with the fighting spirit shown by my players. Hafifi was the toast of the team for scoring two goals.”

“However, we will not have the services of forward Suhaimi (Ibrahim) for the first-leg semi-finals on Friday after he collected a yellow card in the match,” said Velappan.

Asia Cup : Defensive mistakes prove costly in Malaysia’s loss to Japan

Defensive errors cost Malaysia dear as they slumped 1-2 to Japan in the opening Group A match of the Junior Asia Cup wo­men’s hockey tournament at the Se­­rem­ban II Hockey Stadium yesterday.

The match which was supposed to start at 4pm was delayed by two hours because of a heavy down pour.

Malaysian defenders were at sea in the first seven minutes and Japan took advantage to score two quick goals which was enough to give them a winning start.

Takagi Mai scored a field goal in the third minute and four minutes later Japan increased their lead off a penalty corner goal by Kozakura Thinami.

Malaysia created several scoring chances but all came to nought until two minutes from time when defender Nurul Nadia Mokhtar finally sounded the board from the team’s third penalty corner of the match.

However, it was too late for Malaysia to look for the equaliser.

National coach Yahya Atan said that they were let down by silly defensive errors in the first few minutes.

“My girls gave a good fight and created several scoring chances but only managed to score one penalty corner goal.

“The players will have to play much harder if they hope to get the desire results,’’ said Yahya.

With the defeat, Malaysia’s hopes of finishing among the top-four in the nine-team competition is virtually over.

Malaysia will face an uphill task when they take on defending champions China tomorrow.

Malaysia’s last two matches are against Pakistan on Wednesday and Thailand on Thursday.

The Group B match between Singapore and India, scheduled for 6pm yesterday, was postponed to this morning because of rain.


Group A: Malaysia 1 Japan 2, Pakistan 2 Thailand 1.

Today’s matches: Singapore vs India (9am), S. Korea vs Taiwan (4pm), Thailand vs China (6pm), Pakistan vs Japan (8pm).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Asia Cup : Yahya’s charges need full points in opening tie against Japanese

Malaysia will have to collect full points in the opening Group A match against Japan today if they hope to finish among the top-four in the 5th Junior Asia Cup women’s hockey tournament at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium.

The other teams in the group are defending champions China, Pakistan and Thailand.

National coach Yahya Atan said that he has set a top-four target for Malaysia four in the nine-team tournament.

Three-time champions South Korea, India, Taiwan and Singapore are drawn in Group B.

“Japan are a strong side but with all the hard training and home ground advantage, I believe we can beat them. A win over Japan will put us in a good position to reach the semi-finals meet our target,’’ said Yahya.

Malaysia’s next match is against China on Monday, followed by Pakistan on Wednesday and Thailand on Thursday.

The tournament, which ends on Dec 21, offers three places to the 2009 Junior World Cup Finals in Boston scheduled from Aug 3-18.

TODAY'S MATCHES Malaysia vs Japan (4pm) Singapore vs India (6pm) Pakistan vs Thailand (8pm)

MHL : Nur Insafi set to come out with guns blazing against Maybank

Nur Insafi will be coming out with guns blazing when they play former champions Maybank in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) second-leg quarter-final match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

The Penang-based team, powered by seven Indians and two Bangladeshis, lost 0-1 to the Tigers in the first-leg match on Wednesday.

Nur Insafi coach Thaitchana Muruthi said they were let down by poor finishing in that match in Penang.

“We controlled the match and created so many chances but we just didn’t had the lady luck to score.

“One of our penalty corner attempts hit the post and two other attempts were stopped by Maybank goalkeeper (Mohd Hanafi Hassan),’’ said Thaitchana.

He added that the battle is far from over and they still have 70 minutes to get the better of the Tigers, who were lucky to score a deflection goal on Wednesday.

“My players have promised to give their best.

“So I am confident that they would be able rise to the occasion to win a place in the semi-finals,’’ said Thaitchana.

Thaitchana said that they would be banking on forward Prem Kumar (pic) and centre-half Deepak Kumar to deliver the goals.

“We lost the first round match in the preliminaries 2-5 and beat them by the same margin in the second round.

“And we can do it again tomorrow,” said Thaitchana.

Maybank coach S. Velappan said that the pressure definitely would be on them as they are the former champions.

“Nur Insafi have very skilful players and defenders will have to play a very tight marking game.

“The forwards also have to take their chances well. We have to stay on our toes in the entire match,’’ said Velappan.

Nur Insafi or Maybank will face league champions Ernst and Young in the semi-finals.

The other semi-final match is between defending overall champions Tenaga Nasional and Sapura.

The first-leg semi-final matches are on Dec 19 and the return-leg will be held on Dec 21.

Indoor Hockey : Malaysia stay on course for final spot despite thrashing

Malaysia stayed on course for a place in the final despite a disappointing 0-7 defeat to favourites Iran in the inaugural men’s Indoor Asia Cup hockey tournament at the Indera Mulia Stadium yesterday.

Iran have booked their place in the final after chalking up their fourth consecutive win when they thrashed Thailand 13-0 in an earlier match in the morning.

Iran have eight points from four matches and will wrap up the round robin fixtures against Malaysia B today.

In the morning, Malaysia chalked up their third win with a thumping 10-3 win over Uzbekistan.

Malaysia have six points from three wins and a defeat and they need to beat Singapore to qualify for the final.

Mohd Rodhanizam Mat Radzi was the toast of the team against Uzbekistan after scoring six goals in the 4th, 5th, 16th, 21st, 22nd and 24th minutes.

Jiwa Mohan (19th, 39th), Redzuan Ponirin (8th) and S. Kuhan (23rd) scored the other goals for Malaysia.

Uzbekistan replied through Ismail Ov Enver (14th), Sibaer Roman (15th) and Padol Yakin (28th) .


Malaysia B 10 Thailand 3, Iran 13 Singapore 0, Malaysia A 10 Uzbekistan 3, Singapore 8 Thailand 5, Iran 7 Malaysia A 0, Malaysia B 2 Uzbekistan 4.


Malaysia B vs Iran (5pm), Thailand vs Uzbekistan (6.15pm), Singapore vs Malaysia (7.30pm). Results

Indoor Hockey : Malaysia A open campaign with two rousing wins

Malaysia A got chalked up two convincing wins on the opening day of the inaugural men’s Indoor Asia Cup hockey tournament at the Indera Mulia Stadium in Ipoh yesterday.

Malaysia A outplayed Malaysia B 6-2 in the opening match before thrashing Thailand 7-1.

Jivan Mohan (13th minute), Redzuan Ponirin (14th), Mohd Rodhanizam Mat Radzi (21st), S. Kuhan (24th), S. Shanker (37th) and Mohd Redza Maadun (39th) were on target for Malaysia A in the morning match. Mohd Fikri Bassar (18th) and Mohd Hafiz Zakaria (40th) replied for Malaysia B.

Against Thailand, former national skipper Kuhan scored five goals in the seventh, 11th, 13th, 16th and 23rd minutes while Jiwa Mohan scored a brace in the 20th and 34th minutes.

Indee Jutipond replied for Thailand in the 39th minute.

Favourites Iran, who won the gold medal in the second Indoor Games in Macau last year, also had two big wins — thrashing Thailand 8-1 and humiliating Uzbekistan 11-1.

Malaysia A team manager Kenneth Pereira said his boys played better against Thailand.

“We will face a stern test against favourites Iran tomorrow (today). We last played them in Macau and drew 3-3,” he said. “I hope my boys will rise to the occasion this time.”


Malaysia A 6 Malaysia B 2, Iran 8 Thailand 1, Uzbekistan 6 Singapore 4, Iran 11 Uzbekistan 1, Malaysia A 7 Thailand 1, Malaysia B 3 Singapore 2.

Today's matches

Thailand vs Malaysia B (8am), Singapore vs Iran (9.15am), Uzbekistan vs Malaysia A (10.30am), Singapore vs Thailand (5pm), Iran vs Malaysia A (6.15pm), Malaysia B vs Uzbekistan (7.30pm).

MJHL : MBPJ to hold two-day trial

The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) will hold a two-day trial to pick a team for next year’s Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL).

The trials will be held at the MBPJ Hockey Stadium tomorrow and on Sunday beginning at 8.30am on both days.

Only players born on or after Jan 1, 1990 are eligible to attend the trials.

For details, contact chief coach Paul Raj (017-3715428) or assistant team manager Zainal Abidin Ismail (019-3608620).

Livermore on comeback trail

Brent Livermore, the second most-capped player in Australian field hockey, is to return to the national team for next month’s four-match home series against Holland, Hockey Australia said yesterday.

Livermore, 32, who has played 289 internationals, was named in the squad by new coach Ric Charlesworth after missing this year’s Beijing Olympics with injury.

Livermore suffered a fracture in his left foot ruling him out of his third Olympics.

Despite speculation that he may retire, Livermore said he was looking at playing on until at least next year’s Champions’ Trophy in Melbourne.

If Livermore’s return is successful, he will have the opportunity to break Jay Stacy’s record of 319 international matches and become the most capped Kookaburra.

Australia face the Dutch in Western Australia from January 20-25.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

MHL : Knockout Stage

Maybank snatched a slim advantage when they edged Nur Insafi-Penang 1-0 in a Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) quarter-final first-leg match at the USM AstroTurf Stadium here yesterday.

And it was veteran forward Chairil Anwar Aziz who gave then the cushion for the return match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday.

The 36-year-old former international deflected home a cross from Mohd Razali Zulkipli in the 42nd minute.

Maybank coach S. Velappan, though pleased with the result, readily admitted that their battle for a semi-final berth was far from over.

“I am glad that we succeeded in taking an advantage into the second-leg match. But believe me, nothing is confirmed. There is still plenty to be done in the return match and we can expect Nur Insafi to throw everything at us on Saturday,” he said.

“What we can ill afford to do is to repeat the defensive approach we took in the second half today. We have to continue to bring the fight to them as we did in the first half. Otherwise, it could spell trouble.”

Nur Insafi reacted positively after conceding the goal to Maybank.

With twin strikers Prem Kumar and Mubeen Ur Rehman a constant menace, Nur Insafi had Maybank pinned deeo in defence.

They earned seven penalty corners in the second half but drew blanks. Maybank goalkeeper Mohd Hanafi Hassan pulled off two great saves while his defenders turned away all the other Nur Insafi set-piece attempts.

Mubeen did beat Mohd Hanafi with a rising shot in the dying minutes of the match but the woodwork stood in the way.

Nur Insafi coach Dr Thaitchana Muruthi did not hide his disappointment over the defeat.

“I felt very sorry for the boys. They were plain unlucky. But all is not lost. From our creativity today, I am confident we can overturn the deficit and beat Maybank to qualify for the semi-finals,” he said.

The winners of the tie will play against Division One champions Ernst and Young for a place in the final.

The other semi-final is between defending champions Tenaga Nasional and Sapura.

Asia Cup : Nurul to shoulder dual role at junior Asian tournament

Nurul Nadia Mokhtar will shoulder a heavy responsibilty in the Junior Asia Cup women’s hockey tournament, which begins on Saturday at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium.

The 20-year-old Penangite not only has to marshal the defence but she is also depended on to deliver the goals from penalty corners.

But Nurul is not satisfied with her penalty corner conversion rate in two friendly matches against the South Korean juniors last September.

“I took six penalty corners in the two matches and managed to score only one. The pressure is definitely on me to deliver the goals in the Junior Asia Cup,’’ said Nurul, who was in the national senior team for the 2006 Doha Asian Games.

Nurul, who has 40 international caps to her credit, added that she was working on improving her penalty corner execution and hoped to get it right in the tournament.

Malaysia will open their campaign in Group A against Japan on Saturday. Their other matches are against defending champions China (Dec 15), Pakistan (Dec 17) and Thailand (Dec 18). Group B comprises three-time champions South Korea, India, Singapore and Taiwan.

The tournament, which ends on Dec 21, offers three places to the 2009 women’s Junior World Cup Finals in Boston scheduled for Aug 3-18.

And Nurul admitted that it would be difficult for Malaysia to get among the top three.

“China, South Korea, Japan and India are much stronger than us. But we will give our best to finish in a creditable position,’’ said Nurul, who was also in the national team for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria, Canada, last April.

The final squad of 18 player for the Asian Juniors were named yesterday. The team is under the charge of Yahya Atan and he is assisted by Tai Beng Hai and Mohd Nasihin Nubli.

Indoor Hockey : Malaysia eye place in final of inaugural Asia Cup

Malaysia expect to qualify for the final of the inaugural men’s Asia Cup indoor hockey tournament, which begins today at the Indera Mulia Stadium in Ipoh.

Malaysia have two teams in the fray. The others are Iran, Singapore, Thailand and Uzbekistan.

The preliminaries will take a round-robin format with the top two teams contesting the final on Sunday.

Iran, who won the gold medal in the second Asian Indoor Games in Macau last year, will start as the favourites.

Malaysia A team manager Kenneth Pereira said that Iran had the same set of players from the Games-winning side and they were also favoured to make the final in Ipoh.

“We also have the same team who played in Macau and held Iran to a 3-3 draw in a group match. We are banking on reaching the final,’’ said Kenneth.

Former national skipper S. Kuhan will spearhead the Malaysia A challenge.

The other members of the team are goalkeeper Mohd Nasihin Nubli, K. Keevan Raj, S. Shanker, P. Prabahkaran, Mohd Rodhanizam Mat Radzi, Mohd Razi Mohd Ismail and the Mohan brothers, Jiwa and Jeevan.

Malaysia B are represented by Mohd Hafizuddin Osman, Mohd Khairul Effendy Kamarulzaman, M. Vizayan, Mohd Adam Mustaffa, Mohd Hafiz Zakaria, Mohd Faizal Kamaruddin, Joel Samuel van Huizen, Hafis Jami and G. Sasitheran.

Kenneth added that the tournament would be good for players to sharpen their skills.

“The tournament is also meant to help develop indoor hockey in Malaysia. And youngsters are encourage to come and watch the matches to learn more about the game,’’ he said.

36-year-old Chairil wants to play for a couple more years

Chairil Anwar has featured for Maybank in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) for 17 years and he is not about to quit yet.

The 36-year-old forward felt that he is still good enough to play competitive hockey for another couple of years.

“I believe that I am the oldest player in the MHL but I am still fit and still enjoying the competition,’’ said Chairil, who retired from the national team in 2003 with 279 international caps.

“However, I am not satisfied with my performance in the MHL this season. I have only two goals to show from 10 league matches.”

Chairil added that he hoped to go on target against Nur Insafi in the quarter-final first-leg match at the USM pitch in Penang today.

“Nur Insafi have seven Indians and two Bangladeshis in their ranks and they are a strong side, improving with each match in the competition.

“We defeated them 5-2 in the first round of the league but they beat us by the same margin in the second round,” he said.

“We can expect a tough time against them tomorrow. They are fast with their counter attacks and we have to be on our toes. We also have to make full use of our chances to chalk up a good result in Penang.”

Besides Chairil, the other forwards in the Maybank team are Suhaimi Ibrahim, Hafifihafiz Hanafi and Hang Edzharsyah Hang Tuah.

In the six-team Division One, Maybank finished fourth, one rung above Nur Insafi.

The quarter-final ties were scheduled for Dec 5 and 7 but Nur Insafi requested for a postponement as their Indian players had to return home to play in the domestic league.

Maybank agreed to their request and the return match will be played on Saturday at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

The winners of the match will be up against league champions Ernst and Young in the semi-finals. The other semi-final is between defending overall champions Tenaga Nasional and Sapura.

Pakistani legend Manzoor dies

Pakistani hockey legend Manzoor Hussain Atif died early on Monday aged 81 after a long illness, his family said.

Atif represented Pakistan in four Olympics and was part of the team that won the gold medal at the 1960 Rome Games. He was team manager when Pakistan won their second and third Olympic golds, in Mexico in 1968 and in Los Angeles in 1984.

He served as secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for 11 years, becoming the first non-European chairman of the International Hockey Federation (IHF) rules board in 1994.

Atif also held the position of Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) secretary for 16 years and was vice president of the organisation between 1982-2001.

He was highly respected in the hockey world and was instrumental in raising the sport’s profile at international level.

Jr : Coach Rajan happy with Juniors’ showing in MHL

National Juniors coach K. Ra­­­jan is satisfied with the overall performance of the team in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

The Juniors, who are preparing for the Junior World Cup Finals scheduled for June 7-21, gave defending overall champions Tenaga Nasional a good fight in the two-leg quarter-final tie last week.

The Juniors, who finished sixth and last in Division One, drew 1-1 in the first leg and were beaten 2-4 in the return match.

Rajan said the players made steady progress in the MHL and he was happy with their fighting qualities.

“But there is still a lack of co-ordination among the players and I need to work on this,’’ said Rajan.

He added that the players would attend a one-week mental training camp in the first week of January before they leave for Sydney to play in the Youth Olympic Games from Jan 13-18. Their opponents in the competition are England, New Zealand and Australia.

Rajan added that the juniors would also play four friendly matches against club sides in Sydney.

“We will travel to Brisbane to play another six friendly matches against club sides before we return home in early February,’’ he said.

Rajan added that the team would also play in a six-nation invitational tournament at the Johor Hockey Stadium in March.

“We will go for a three-week playing tour of Europe in April and will have friendly matches against our counterparts in Holland, Germany and Belgium,’’ he said.

Malaysia will co-host the Junior World Cup Finals with Singapore. The Finals will feature 20 teams.

Monday, December 8, 2008

MHL : Knockout Stage

Defender Mohd Amin Rahim scored a hat-trick to steer Tenaga Nasional to a hard-fought 4-2 win over the National Juniors in a Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) quarter-final second-leg match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Defending overall champions Tenaga, who finished third in Division One, advanced to the semi-finals on a 5-3 aggregate. They will take on Division One runners-up Sapura for a place in the final.

Sapura, powered by two South Koreans, beat Division Two champions Jurutera Letrik Jentera (JLJ) 6-0 at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium to qualify for the semi-finals 11-0 on aggregate.

In Sapura’s rout of JLJ yesterday, Jiwa Mohan scored a hat-trick (28th, 37th and 51st) and the other goals came from P. Prabahkaran (47th), Mohd Faisal Kamaruddin (66th) and K. Keevan Raj (70th).

Ernst and Young also chalked up an easy 6-1 win over Royal Malay Regiment (RMR) at the Tun Razak Stadium to advance 18-1 on aggregate.

The scorers for the league champions yesterday were Ahmad Anuar Sham Kamar (4th, 10th), Mohd Amerullah Abdul Aziz (13th), Baljit Singh Sarjab (32nd) and Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim (56th). RMR replied through Mazalan Abdullah in the 46th minute.

In the semi-finals, Ernst and Young, who are gunning for their first overall title, will meet the winners of the tie between Nur Insafi and Maybank.

The semi-final first-leg matches will be held on Dec 19 and the return matches will be played on Dec 21.

In the match between Tenaga and the National Juniors, Amin Rahim converted a penalty corner to give the defending champions the lead in the 21st minute. Six minutes later, he made a penalty-stroke conversion before getting on target again in the 60th minute off a penalty corner.

Mohd Fairuz Ramli scored the fourth goal for Tenaga in the 67th minute. The two goals scored by the Juniors came off penalty corners through Nor Hafiq Abdul Gaffar (44th, 62nd).

Tenaga coach Lailin Abu Hassan said: “The Juniors really gave us a good fight until the last minute. I am also happy with Amin’s performance as he has got back his confidence in scoring goals.”

Friday, December 5, 2008

MHL : Knockout Stage

League champions Ernst and Young have virtually confirmed their place in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) semi-final after a thumping 12-0 win over the Royal Malay Regiment (RMR) in a quarter-final, first-leg match at the National Hockey Stadium yesterday.

Hat-trick hero Craig Fernandez was the toast for Ernst and Young. Baljit Singh Sarjab, Chua Boon Huat, Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim and Ismail Abu scored two goals each while Kelvinder Singh netted one.

Ernst and Young team manager George Koshy said he was surprised with the margin of victory over the Division Two runners-up.

“We never expected to score such a big win over RMR. It’s an excellent result for us and we are as good as assured of a semi-final place,” he said. “RMR are not in our class.”

Former champions Sapura can also start planning for the semi-finals after romping to a 5-0 win over Division Two champions Jurutera Letrik Jentera (JLJ).

Defending overall champions Tenaga Nasional, meanwhile, had to come back from a goal down to hold the National Juniors to a 1-1 draw at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Asia Cup : Three places up for grabs in Women’s Junior Asia Cup

Nine teams will compete in the fifth Women’s Junior Asia Cup, which will be held at the Seremban Two Hockey Stadium from Dec 13-21.

The tournament offers three places for Asian teams to the 2009 Women’s Junior World Cup, which will be held in Boston, the United States, from Aug 3-18.

Defending champions China are in Group A with Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Pakistan while Group B comprises three-time champions South Korea, India, Singapore and Taiwan.

The nine teams have been divided into two groups and the top two from each group will qualify for the semi-finals.

The Women’s Junior Asia Cup, the first international hockey tournament to be staged in Seremban, is organised by the women’s section of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) and is jointly sponsored by the state government.

Asia is the only region yet to finalise its representatives for the 2009 Women’s Junior World Cup. So far 13 teams have secured their berths, including the United States.

The others who have secured their berths are Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Chile, Egypt, England, Spain, Germany, Lithuania, Holland, New Zealand and South Africa.

South Korea, champions in 1992, 1996 and 2000, are the favourites to claim one of the berths along with China, the winners in 2004.

Japan and India have always slugged it out for third place and will be seen as the biggest threats to Malaysia’s chances of making the cut for their first-ever Junior World Cup.

The Malaysian team will be handled by Yahya Atan, Tai Beng Hai and Mohd Nasihin Nubli and the final 18 will be named on Dec 6.

MHL : Rajan losing sleep over National Juniors’ porous defence

National Juniors coach K. Rajan is having sleepless night worrying about his team’s porous defence.

The Juniors, who finished rock bottom in the six-team Division One, scored 15 goals but leaked in a whopping 38 goals in 10 matches.

And Rajan is worried about how they will cope against defending overall champions Tenaga Nasional in the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) next week.

Tenaga finished third in Division One behind League champions Ernst and Young and Sapura.

The first-leg of the quarter-final match will be played at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Friday and the return-leg at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium two days later.

The National Juniors are competing in the MHL as part of their preparation for the Junior World Cup, which Malaysia will co-host with Singapore from June 7-21.

Rajan admitted that his defenders had been a huge let down in the League.

“They have let in soft goals. There is still a lack of understanding among the defenders,” he said.

“I am still trying to get the right combination of defenders for the Junior World Cup.”

The defenders are Ahmad Kazamirul Nasaruddin, Mohd Sybrie Shamsudin, Kavin Kartik, Mohd Noor Khairul Azrain, Mohd Nor Hafiq Abdul Gaffar and Mohd Sabri Mohd.

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.