Friday, March 20, 2009

KL and Perak book semis spot

Defending champions Kuala Lumpur and Perak book the semi-final spots in the National Under-16 hockey championship with convincing wins in Group A matches at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium yesterday.

KL defeated Kelantan 4-2 while Perak outplayed Perlis 4-0. Selangor also chalked up an impressive 5-0 win over Pahang in Group A.

KL, Perak and Selangor all finished with 12 points from five matches. And Perak topped the group on better goal difference ahead of KL.

In the semi-finals, Perak will play against Group B runners-up Penang while KL will take on Terengganu.

KL coach I. Vickneswaran said that Terengganu had a solid team and it would be tough to get the better of them.

“They have a good attack and have scored a total of 18 goals. And their defence has let in only three goals in five matches,’’ he said.

Against Kelantan yesterday, Mohd Nor Aqmal Gahaffar scored a brace for KL in the 41st and 65th minute. The other goals were scored by Mohd Taufik Abdul Hamid (38th) and Ahmed Iqwan Shah Harun (68th). Kelantan replied through Mohd Fitri Saari (59th) and Aniq Amran (70th) minutes.

Perak team manager M. Kulasingam said that they were confident of defeating Penang to reach the final.

Meanwhile, Selangor’s coach Azlan Abdul Aziz and assistant team manager V. Jayakumar have been suspended from the tournament for unruly behaviour and their cases will be referred to the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) disciplinary board.

Tournament director Jusver Singh said that Azlan and Jayakumar constantly harassed the umpires during Selangor’s match against Perlis match on Wednesday and had to be restrained by technical officials from entering the pitch.

“Both of them entered the pitch after the match ended and confronted the umpires in a threatening manner,” said Jusver.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

KL beat Perak to get back in the race for semis spot

Defending champions Kuala Lumpur beat table-toppers Perak 3-1 to bounce back into the race for a semi-final berth in the National Under-16 hockey championship at the Seremban Two Hockey Stadium here yesterday.

KL’s win has thrown the semi-final race in Group A wide open, with for teams now in the hunt.

Selangor, who lost 0-2 to Perak on Monday, are also back in the mix after a 3-1 win over Kelantan in the evening.

All four teams have six points after two wins and a defeat each.

The Perak-KL game was played at breakneck speed, with all the goals coming in the frenetic first-half.

Perak took the lead in the 17th minute when Mohd Dzahiruddin Ilas scored from a penalty corner set piece and were seemingly in control of the match.

But KL turned the game around when Mohd Taufik Abdul Hamid scored a field goal after a mistake by the Perak defenders in the 21st minute.

Two minutes later he scored another field goal to put KL in control.

With the Perak team in disarray, KL sealed victory with Mohd Mohd Nor’s penalty corner goal in the 35th minute.

KL coach I. Vicknesweran was thankful to have been given a second lease of life after their opening day defeat to Selangor (0-1).

“This was a match we needed to win. The players started off slowly but we managed to get the goals when it mattered,” he said.

In Group B, Terengganu took a step closer to the semi-finals with a 7-0 thrashing of Kedah.

Terengganu have maximum points after three matches and another win today will be enough for them to qualify for the last four.

Mohd Firhan Ashari scored a hat-trick in the second, seventh and 18th minutes. Terengganu’s other scorers were Nursyafiq Farhain (27th), Mohd Zulhairi (52nd), Mohd Rasul Yusof (62nd) and Mohd Firdaus (64th).

Penang, Negri Sembilan and Singapore are still in race for the other berth from Group B.

Penang kept alive their hopes with a 3-2 win over Johor while Negri laboured to a 1-0 win over Singapore.

Former champs set early pace at U-16 tournament

Former champions Perak, Terengganu and Kelantan set the early pace in the national Under-16 hockey championships, chalking up their second straight wins at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium here yesterday.

Perak defeated Selangor 2-0 in a Group A match while Terengganu beat Penang 2-1 in Group B. Kelantan, who are also in Group A, beat Pahang 4-1.

For Selangor, the defeat was a big blow after having started with a 1-0 victory over defending champions Kuala Lumpur. They conceded the two goals in the first half — to Mohamed Fitri Ismail (18th) and Mohamed Soffian Kamaruddin (21st).

Perak, who were champions in 2007, will play KL today in a crucial match in which they could seal an early place in the semi-finals.

KL bounced back from the opening-match defeat to beat Perlis 4-1 with Mohamed Nor Akmal Ghaffar scoring all the goals for them from penalty corner set pieces (sixth, 15th, 68th and 70th). The scorer for Perlis was Mohamed Khairul (27th).

Terengganu rode on two early goals to down Penang. Mohamed Firhan Azhari scored a brace in the third and 11th minute from field attempts.

Penang, who defeated hosts Negri Sembilan 5-2 on Sunday, hit back in the 15th minute through Mohamed Redhwan Jaafar but the equaliser eluded them.

Last year’s runners-up Singapore, who drew with Kedah 2-2 in the opening match, hauled themselves back into contention for a semi-final berth with a 4-0 win over Johor. The scorers were Mohamed Azahari Othman (2), Mohamed Sidek Sa’aman and Kerisaf Sani Abdullah.

National Juniors yet to find working combination

The national juniors are running out time and practice matches to come up with a good combination for their campaign in the Junior World Cup Finals in June.

They finished third in the just concluded four-nation international at the new Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru. They were beaten by India and Pakistan, both by 1-3 margins, and struggled to beat Singapore 2-1 in the round-robin matches before securing a 6-0 win in the classification playoff.

Coach K. Rajan admitted that his boys gave below par performances.

“The bright side is that they are now familiar with the Asian style of play. At some point in the matches against India and Pakistan, they were able to control play. But they need to play more matches to get the moves right,” he said.

The next assignment for the Juniors is an European tour where they are expected to play at least nine matches.

They will play in a four-nation tournament hosted by Spain from April 8-12 and their other opponents are England and Belgium.

The juniors will then head for Belgium for four Test matches (April 14-18) followed by a match against the German national juniors (April) and another against a German club (April 21) before returning home on April 23.

“I am happy with the European schedule as we will get to play quality matches. We need matches against the Europeans. We have two European teams in our group (in the Junior World Cup Finals). The tour will help us adapt to their style of play,” said Rajan.

The Finals will be co-hosted by Malaysia and Singapore from June 7-21. Malaysia are in the same group as Spain, England, South Korea and the United States and the matches will be played at the Taman Daya Stadium.

Malaysia may get to play in another four-nation tournament in Singapore in late April. Singapore are considering staging the tournament to test the facilities at their new stadium.