Monday, January 5, 2009

Trainees to go through longer hours of training under Beng Hai

The national hockey training squad will make better use of time for their daily workouts.

And under the new regime, the morning training session will begin at 6 and it will last for three hours. Previously, it started at 7.30am.

The evening session will start at 4 and end at 7. In between the two sessions, there will be a gym session on alternate days.

Tai Beng Hai, who heads a three-man interim coaching set-up including Nor Saiful Zaini and Lailin Abu Hassan, said that the early start would allow them to maximise the hours for training.

“I want the players to spend quality time in training. It does not matter how they have trained before but from now they have to get used to starting the day early and have a longer training session,” he said after the team reassembled for training yesterday.

Beng Hai insisted that the players needed to be well-versed with their time management to ensure that they have enough time to rest and recover after the training sessions. And there will be no late nights for the players.

The resumption of training yesterday brought a pleasant surprise to the coaches as all the 30 players showed up as scheduled.

“We hope the players will maintain this good start. I have a few more rules drawn up and the players will be informed about them after they are endorsed by the management committee,” said Beng Hai.

He added that the early start time for training was not a totally new idea as he did the same thing when he was in charge of the National Juniors in 2007.

“I do not see any problem with the seniors coming in early. The morning session will be more on the physical and technical aspects of the game while the tactical session will be held in the evening,” said Beng Hai.

The three interim coaches will handle the team until the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) and the National Sports Council (NSC) hire a foreign coach.

Beng Hai added that they would prepare a programme for the management committee to consider as they had just four months before the first assignment.

The team will play in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup from April 3-12 followed by the Asia Cup in Dubai from May 8-18.

Rajan sends out warning after dropping six Juniors

Mohamed Zakhwan, Mohamed Fareez Ismail and Mohamed Andika Norarahis were among those dropped when the National Juniors’ training squad were trimmed from 32 to 26 players yesterday.

The team are preparing for the Junior World Cup Finals, which will be co-hosted by Malaysia and Singapore from June 7-21.

Another three players — Aneskumar Shanmugan, Razlee Amir Mustafa and Khairul Azwan Hamid — were also dropped but they will be considered for selection if they show improvement in domestic tournaments over the next few months.

These three Under-20 players will travel with the team to Sydney for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) from Jan 14-18.

Three other players in the list of 26 players are un­­able to make the trip to Sydney due to injuries.

They are Hang Edzharsyah Hang Tuah, Mohamed Fi­­tri Bakar and goalkeeper Mohamed Asmawi Zaidi.

Coach K. Rajan said that the concentration for the team now was to move towards their final phase of training.

“The Under-20 players will get to play in the AYOF. I want to warn the players not to take their places for granted as every match will count towards the final selection.

“We are running out of time and the players must work harder,” he said.

Rajan retained 17 of the players registered in the team for the recent Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

In Sydney, the team will also play seven friendly matches against club sides. In the AYOF, they will be up against Britain, Australia and India.

“We will get some good matches in Australia and it will be a good guide on the players’ ability to play on the bigger stage,” said Rajan.

The 26-man squad

Abdul Hakim Adnan, Mohamed Hairi Abdul Rahman, Mohamed As­­mawi Zaidi, Mohamed Kazamirul Nasruddin, Wong Khe Hon, Mohamed Noor Khairul, R. Nadesh, Mohamed Syafiq Mohamed Zain, Mohamed Jamil Saidin, Mohamed Faisal Kamaruddin, Abdul Termidzi Ismail, Khairul Annuar Mat Isa, Shaheeb Shah Halim Shah, Mohamed Azaami Adabi, Hang Edzharsyah Hang Tuah, Harvinder Singh, Faisal Shaari, Mohamed Marhan Jalil, Kavin Kartik, Mohamed Izzat Rahim, Azreen Rizal Nasir, Mohamed Sybrie Shamsuddin, Izwan Firdaus, Mohamed Sabri Mohamed, Mohamed Nor Hafiq Abdul Ghaffar, Mohamed Fitri Bakar.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New MHL sees 10 teams vie for glory in top division

The new Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) will see 10 teams vying for glory in the top division.

Last year, only six teams competed in Division One and Division Two had nine teams.

Under the new format, the elite teams will compete in the Premier Division while the rest will vie for a place in Division One. These two divisions are for the Open category.

Division Two and Division Three will be for the Under-19 age groups and will comprise teams from last year’s Malaysia Junior Hockey League (MJHL).

Last year’s top five MHL teams — Ernst and Young, Sapura, Maybank, Tenaga Nasional and Nur Insafi — will be joined by Jurutera Jentera Letrik (JLJ) in the Premier Division.

The competitions committee will select another four teams, based on their strength, for the Premier Division.

There are plans to enter the National Juniors (the 2013 Project Team) in the Premier Division. But a decision will be made once the format is approved by the MHF management committee, who will meet on Tuesday.

MHF competitions committee chairman Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohd Ariff said teams could have as many foreign players as they wanted, just like last year.

Similarly, there will be no cap on the number of national players per team.

The bottom two teams from the Premier Division will be demoted while the top two from Division One will go up the following year.

The Division Two champions will have the right to gain promotion to Division One or they can choose to remain in the Under-19 category.

Division Two and Division Three will kick off next month while Division One is slated to start in May. The Premier League will run from October to December.

Hang Edzharsyah to miss National Juniors’ Australian trip

Maybank forward Hang Edzharsyah Hang Tuah will miss the National Junior hockey team’s trip to Australia.

The former Johor player, who is one of the more experienced forwards in the side, has yet to recover from the thigh injury suffered during the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

Juniors coach K. Rajan confirmed that Edzharsyah will be out of the team when they name the final 26 players for the Sydney trip today.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) will name 16 players, who are below 20, for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) from Jan 14-18.

Ten other players, who are below 21, will also make the trip but they will only be involved in the seven friendly matches during the tour.

“The AYOF is for the Under-20s. These 16 players will vie with the other 10 for places in the Junior World Cup squad.

The Junior World Cup will be co-hosted by Malaysia and Singapore on June 7-21.

“We will expose all the players during the tour. However, four of the Under-20 players will return home immediately after the AYOF,” he said.

The team will play three matches against the New South Wales and the Australian Under-20 team prior to the tournament. They will play another four matches after the tournament but the opponents are not confirmed yet.

Rajan is confident they will not be affected by Edzharsyah’s absence.

“Edzharsyah must be aware that there are other players who are slowly stamping their mark in the team. He is an experienced forward and has been with the team since it was formed. But I want to warn everyone that the Under-20 group of players in the team have been shaping up well and we will not hesitate to replace the more experienced ones if they slacken in training,” said Rajan.

He also said that the 26 players named today would be the final group of players who will vie for places in the Junior World Cup squad.

“We have 32 players. I will drop six players today.

“The team will leave for Sydney on Wednesday night. The tournament in Sydney and the friendly matches are important for the players to show they have improved since the MHL,” said Rajan.

On their return, the team will move to Lumut for a month-long fitness camp before moving to Johor Baru for their final phase of training.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

MHF scrap plan for friendly meet in Johor Baru

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have discarded the plan to stage a four-nation hockey tournament in Johor Baru to test facilities for the Junior World Cup Finals, which they will co-host with Singapore in June.

The MHF deputy president, Nur Azmi Ahmed, said that they were cancelling the tournament scheduled for March for financial reasons.

“It is going to cost us a lot of money to bring teams here and at the end of it, they will benefit at our expense,” he said.

“Our team will not be short on training at the venue because we plan to move their base there in March.

“Instead of spending money on a four-nation tournament, we can get our team to go on an European tour for some quality practice matches.”

The four-nation tournament with matches also played in Singapore was proposed by the previous MHF council after a meeting with the co-hosts. Singapore are now likely to stage a “trial run” on their own.

Azmi added that the stadium in Taman Daya in Johor Baru should be fully ready by March.

“We are willing to accommodate foreign teams to come to Johor Baru for training or Test matches. For us, the main thing is cost and we need to be prudent about it,” he said.

The Junior World Cup Finals from June 7-21 involve 20 teams and Malaysia and Singapore will each host two groups of the preliminary rounds. The semi-finals and final will be played in Johor Baru.

Meanwhile, Azmi said that they would be taking 26 players to Sydney for several friendly matches and also the four-nation Australian Youth Olympic Festival tournament scheduled for Jan 14-18.

On their return from Australia, the team will have a one-month commando-style training stint in Lumut.

Players’ fitness is Beng Hai priority

The national hockey team will resume training on Monday and the first order of business will be a fitness test on the players.

All the 34 players from the previous training squad have been retained and they will again be tested by the National Sports Institute (NSI), who have records of the results of tests done on them four months ago.

Chief interim coach Tai Beng Hai (pic) said that all the players would be given the chance to prove their worth to retain their places in the team.

“The early phase of training will be on the fitness aspect and the results of the tests will give us an idea of what to expect from the players,” he said yesterday.

Beng Hai will be assisted by Nor Saiful Zaini and Lailin Abu Hassan. They will handle the team until the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) hire a foreign coach on a long-term basis.

“We will not make any judgments on the players just yet. We want them to complete the physical training first. That is crucial as they do not have much time to prepare for the two assignments lined up over the next five months,” said Beng Hai.

The team will play in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup from April 3-12 and then the Asia Cup in Dubai from May 8-13. The Asia Cup is also a qualifying event for the 2010 World Cup Finals and the champions will gain an automatic berth.

The MHF deputy president, Nur Azmi Ahmed, said that the interim coaches would get a free hand to handle the training programme for the team as they deemed fit.

“Until the foreign coach comes in, the interim coaches will get the job done their way and follow their own programme. The players need to get back to work immediately and we do not want to waste time,” he said.

Azmi added that none of the players in the training squad had informed the MHF that they wanted out.

“We expect all the players from the previous squad to check in for training on Monday. If there are any injuries or players who have special needs, we will deal with them when they come in,” he said.

Jiwa gets invitation to play in Aussie hockey league

Former international Jiwa Mohan has been invited to play for Northern Territory in the Australian Hockey League (AHL) in March.

The 27-year-old midfielder, who quit the national team after the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup last May, however, will have to attend trials on Jan 16 and 17 to earn a place in the team.

Jiwa, who has been working as a mechanical engineer in Perth since last June, said that it was an honour to him to be the first Malaysian player to get an invitation to play for a state team in the AHL.

“My good performance for Curtin Trinity Pirates Club in the Perth League last year has brought me an invitation from Northern Territory to attend trials,” said Jiwa in a telephone interview from Perth yesterday.

“I was playing in a league in Australia for the first time and I did extremely well, scoring 12 goals in 12 matches.

“I will do my best to impress the Northern Territory selectors in the trials.It’s not easy to win a place in a team for the AHL. They only pick the best players.”

The Penang-born Jiwa added that he would be playing again for Curtin Trinity Pirates Club in the Perth Indoor League, which begins on Monday.

“The duration of the indoor league is over two months before the AHL begins in March. Five states will play in the AHL,’’ said Jiwa, who used to travel from Perth almost every week to play for Sapura in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

Jiwa, who has represented Sapura for seven consecutive years, was named the best player in the MHL in 2006 and he was the top scorer in 2007 with 23 goals.