Friday, June 12, 2009

Junior World Cup :: Malaysia must beat Spain to enter second round

Winner takes all! That’s the scenario for today’s last Group C match between Malaysia and Spain.

With Spain’s 0-1 loss to South Korea yesterday, Malaysia have only one option left in their pursuit for a place in the second round of the Junior World Cup Finals – beat Spain.

But then, given their inconsistent form and indifferent performances, it is hard to see National Juniors coach K. Rajan’s boys beating the European champions.

But the defeat of the Spaniards by the South Koreans, who have qualified for the second round, has given Rajan hopes of an upset today.

“It is not impossible to beat them (Spain) and qualify (for the second round),” he said yesterday.

“We have played them before and they are very good.”

Rajan, however, has reminded his boys not to repeat the mistakes they made in the 5-2 win over the United States on Wednesday.

The coach chided his players for resorting to individual play after taking a comfortable lead.

“This attitude of going for self-glory must stop. We are at a crucial stage and the players must not let their minds wander. How can we win matches this way?

“I have had a talk with the players and they know what is at stake. The message to them is simple: go out there tomorrow (today) and win at all cost.”

The Malaysians owe it to the fans to give their everything against the Spaniards today.

The National Juniors are, in fact, the envy of every team in Johor Baru. The home crowd support has been tremendous, with almost 5,000 vociferous fans cheering them on in every match.

“Yes, the fans have rallied behind us and have given the players a tremendous boost. We want to repay them by making the second round. I can assure you that we will do our best in the last match,” vowed Rajan.

To achieve that, the players – especially forwards Faizal Saari, Mohd Izzat Rahim, Mohd Sahfiq and Mohd Marhan – will have to work as a unit, and not as individuals.

The defenders have done well, although there is still room for improvement in terms of keeping their focus right up to the final whistle.

“If we can do that and stay in the fight for the whole 70 minutes then I am convinced that we can beat Spain,” said Rajan.

Junior World Cup :: S. Korea and Pakistan in second round

South Korea and Pakistan have qualified for the second round of the Junior World Cup Finals from here yesterday.

South Korea became the first team to qualify after a pulsating 1-0 win over Spain in a Group C match at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium.

Former world champions Pakistan then made the cut from Group A when they scored two late goals to beat defending champions Argentina 3-2 at the same venue.

The Koreans snatched their third win of the tournament and have a maximum of nine points. Their last match against England will only serve to decide whether they top the group.

The Spaniards now have the beat Malaysia in order to make it. It will be straight-forward match with the winner making the cut.

Yesterday’s match was a fast-paced affair with both teams going at each other at full throttle.

After a goalless first-half, the Koreans finally made the breakthrough in the 49th minute when Seo Jin-su scored a field goal.

The Spanish side pressed hard in the last 10 minutes and had four penalty corners but they all came to nought.

South Korean coach Shin Seok-kyu described the match as a tough battle and that the pressure at the end was tremendous.

“I do not know why the umpires gave the penalty corners. Thankfully, my players kept their cool. We will think about the second round after the match against England,” he said.

The Group A match between Pakistan and Argentina was full of excitement, with the South Americans enjoying the advantage early on.

The Pakistanis persevered and it paid off with two field goals late in the match. But their win was marred by a red card to Abbas Haider in the 68th minute for an infringement.

Argentina took the lead in the seventh minute off a penalty corner goal by Leandro Tolini before Abbas Haider equalised in the 35th minute.

The Argentines struck on resumption when Santiago Monteli scored in the 55th minute.

Four minutes later Pakistan were back on level terms, thanks to Mohamed Irfan’s goal.

Mohamed Zubair then struck in the 66th minute to allow Pakistan to snatch a win over the defending champions.

Argentina will now have to beat Egypt in their last match today to book their second round berth.

In an earlier match, Belgium defeated Russia 6-1 to keep alive their hopes of a place in the next round.

Junior World Cup :: Spaniards out to grab first chance to enter second round

Spain will get two chances to book their berth in the second round. And they want to get it done today against South Korea in a Group C match at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here.

If they fail to do so, they can secure qualification in the their final group match against Malaysia. They go into the match against the Koreans with full points from two matches. South Korea are also in the same position and they have a final group match against England.

And it could boil down to goal difference if Spain beat the Koreans and the group matches on Friday favour Malaysia and South Korea.

Spanish coach Salvador Indurain said yesterday: “Keeping it to the last minute may complicate things. Malaysia are still in with a chance and they could trip us at the last hurdle.

“The Koreans will still be in the running even if they lose to us. That is a risk we are not willing to take. One of the teams can confirm their berth tomorrow (today) and I want it to be Spain.”

Spain started off with a 9-0 win over the United States and then defeated England 2-1.

Spain may be without top forward and skipper Roc Oliva for the match against the Koreans.

Oliva was taken out of the match against England on Tuesday after five minutes because of a muscle pull.

“The injury does not look too serious and we hope that he can recover in time to play the match,” said Indurain.

The Spaniards agree that the Koreans are a top side with good stamina and speed to back their game.

“They have been impressive in their two matches.

“But I think we have the plan to take them on.

“We will go all out for a win and by our calculations, that will be enough to put us through to the medal rounds,” said Indurain.

Junior World Cup :: India face three-way fight with Dutch, Kiwis

Former world champions India are in a three-way battle with Holland and New Zealand to qualify for the second round from Group D.

India will play against Holland at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium in Singapore today in a crucial match where they need nothing less than a win to stay in contention.

Otherwise, Holland will confirm their berth and pave the way for New Zealand to grab the other spot. The Kiwis play against lowly Singapore and should win big to keep their chances of advancing bright.

For the Indians, a 2-2 draw with New Zealand on Tuesday has changed the equation.

Team manager Anupam Gulati said yesterday that their chances would depend very much on the result of the match against Holland.

“We have to win. It’s a three-way fight and we will take it all the way to the last match. I am confident that the players will rise to the occasion,” he said.

India won the title in 2001 while Holland and New Zealand have yet to emerge as the champions.

In Group B, 1979 winners Australia and four-time champions Germany have virtually sealed their places in the second round.

Both teams have full points from two matches and need only a point in the remaining two to advance. They play each other today and have easy final group matches on Friday. Yesterday, matches in Singapore involved weaker teams and the results had no bearing on the outcome of qualification from the two groups.

Junior World Cup :: Malaysia dish out a yo-yo display in win over the Americans

Malaysia produced a Jekyll and Hyde performance in their 5-2 win over the United States in a Group C match at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here yesterday.

They were four goals up after 11 minutes of play and were swarming all over the Americans. A goal rush appeared on the cards for the Malaysians. But it stopped and they started to give away possession of the ball and soon found themselves under attack.

National coach K. Rajan was incensed with the players for their casual display and for taking their feet off the pedal.

“This is what worries me most with this team. They had everything going for them but allowed the US to get back into the game,” he said.

“We needed to win by a big margin and we made it difficult for ourselves. All they had to do was keep to the structure and play their normal game.”

Malaysia got off to a good start and opened accounts in the second minute through Mohamed Izzat Abdul Rahim, who scored from close range. They kept up their speedy play and stretched the lead six minutes later with Mohamed Marhan Mohd Jamil scoring with reverse hit.

Malaysia earned a penalty stroke in the 10th minute and Faizal Saari made the conversion to put his team 3-0 up. A minute later, Mohamed Shafiq Mohamed Zain scored his first goal of the tournament with an effort from the top of the D.

The Malaysians eased the pressure on their opponents and the US had the first good look at goal in the 21st minute. Four minutes later, Nicholas Szoke narrowed the deficit for the Americans.

The US took the initiative in the second half and had the Malaysians pegged in defence. The Americans gained two penalty corners in the 42nd and 43rd minutes but nothing came off them. But from another penalty corner in the 56th minute, Jedidiah Cunningham scored with a high flick.

In the 63rd minute, Malaysia gained their first penalty corner and Faizal was on target with the high flick. But that was all the Malaysians came up with in the second half.

In Group A, Egypt finally secured a win — beating Russia 3-0 with goals by Eslam Basha, Ahmad Shestawy and Mohamed Hamide.

Malaysia: Abdul Hakim Adnan, Khairil Annuar, Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin, Mohd Sybrie, Mohamed Nor Hafiq Abdul Ghafar, Faizal Saari, Mohd Izzat Mohd Rahim, Mohd Noor Khairul Azrain, Izwan Firdaus, R. Nadesh, Mohd Marhan Jalil.

Reserves: Kavin Kartik, Wong Khee Hon, Jamil Mohd Saidin, Mohd Shafiq Mohd Zain, Harvinder Singh.

USA: Jonathan Ginolfi, Kevin Barber, Liam Walsh, Sebastian Schreuer, Amrit Ahluwalia, Kevin Segeren, Willam Holt, Ajai Dhadwal, jedidiah Cunningham, Nicholas Szoke, Dark Pelle.

Reserves: Tyler Sundeen, Colin Scally, Viren Padhiar, Manual Martinez, Ryan Sundeen.

Junior World Cup :: South Korean skipper quarantined

South Korean skipper Kang Kyung-woo who came down with high fever two days ago could miss the rest of the Junior World Cup Finals.

The player has been quarantined at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital yesterday as a precautionary measure. This follows the recent H1N1 A flu outbreak worldwide.

Tournament medical officer Dr Kamarul Hashimi said yesterday that Kyung-woo could be in hospital for up to 10 days.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary, Hashim Mohamed Yusof, assured all teams in Johor Baru that they were constantly monitoring the situation.

“We have special medical units on stand-by at the hotel and stadium. All necessary precautions are being taken,” he said.

Kyung-woo played in the opening match against the United States on Sunday but was not fielded against Malaysia on Monday.

Junior World Cup :: Argentina move closer to second round

Defending champions Argentina moved closer to a second-round berth from Group A after securing a 3-0 win over Belgium at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here yesterday.

They have full points from two matches and they need another three from their remaining matches against Pakistan and Egypt to advance.

It was a tough game for the Argentinians yesterday with the Belgians making the early fight to keep them at bay for a goalless first half.

But the situation changed for Argentina in a counter attack in the 40th minute with Agustin Mazzilli scoring a field goal from close range.

Alan Gabriel Andino added the other two goals in the 53rd and 69th minutes to ensure full points for the champions.

Argentina coach Pablo Lombi said that the first half was evenly balanced but the breakthrough came with the first goal early in the second half.

“The pressure lifted and we were able to settle down to play our normal game.

“We are happy with the result as it puts us closer to the next round,” he said.

“But we still have Pakistan and Egypt to play and we cannot afford to take any one of them lightly.”

In Group C, Spain also moved closer to the second round following a 2-1 win over England in their second match.

The Spaniards scored the two goals in the first half through Salvador Piera (15th) and Xavi Lleonart (35th). Alex Edmonstone scored England’s consolation goal in the 69th minute.

Spain now have six points and they lead the group on better goal difference than South Korea.

For England, it was their second defeat in as many matches.

Junior World Cup :: Hakim angry with himself for lapses against the Koreans

Goalkeeper Abdul Hakim Adnan is angry with himself for not reading the South Koreans’ penalty corner variations better in Malaysia’s 0-2 defeat on Monday.

The 20-year-old Maybank employee has vowed to be more alert to help Malaysia remain in the hunt for a place in the second round.

“We knew that they have very good drag flickers. “We have studied their movements on video,” he said yesterday.

“The two goals could have been stopped. The first was a deflection and the second was a low flick that hit a defender’s leg before going in. It was just unlucky for us.

“I will not let it happen again. I will work harder to ensure that we stop the Americans and Spaniards in our remaining group matches.”

Hakim joined the national juniors in early 2006 and he wants to stamp his mark in the Junior World Cup to stake his claim for a place in the senior ranks.

“All the players have worked hard and we want to make the second round,” he said.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Junior World Cup :: It gets harder for Malaysians to second round hopes

Malaysia’s chances of advancing to the second round of the Junior World Cup Finals took a hard knock when they lost 0-2 to South Korea in a Group C match at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here yesterday.

A goal in each half from successful penalty corner executions gave the Koreans full points. The Koreans had in their opening match on Sunday beaten the United States 8-0 while the Malaysians scored a 1-0 win over England.

The Koreans went on the offensive from the start yesterday and their speed play had the Malaysians reeling in defence.

And they did not have to wait long to take the lead. They earned their first penalty corner in the fifth minute and Kang Moon-kyu deflected home the drag flick taken by Lee Woo-geun.

The Malaysians were kept pegged in defence and conceded another three penalty corners. But some very close defending prevented the Koreans from stretching the lead. Malaysia had just one good shot at goal in the 21st minute.

In the second half, Malaysia tried to take the fight to the Koreans but it soon fizzled out.

The Koreans pushed forward and earned another penalty corner in the 55th minute. This time, Jeong Yun-sang beat goalkeeper Abdul Hakim Adnan with a low flick.

Malaysia coach K. Rajan said that the Koreans’ better execution of the penalty corners made the difference.

“It is not over yet for us. We still have two more matches to go and the second-round berth is still in sight,” he said.

In another Group C match, Euro­pean champions Spain began their campaign with a 9-0 win over the US.

The Spaniards had total control of the match. Gabriel Debanch scored a hat-trick and Salvador Piera had a brace. The other scorers were Javier Garcia, Diego Arana, Roc Oliva and Xavier Lleonart.

Spanish coach Salvador Indurain said that they were happy to start off convincingly.

“The tougher matches are coming up and that is where the results will matter most.

“We took our time to settle down but it all went as planned once we got the first goal.”

Junior World Cup :: Pakistan’s Haseem hopes to strike it hot

Pakistani forward Haseem Khan is on a quest to emerge as the top scorer of the Junior World Cup Finals.

He got off to a flying start with a hat-trick against Russia in a Group A match on Sunday and he added two more in the 3-0 win over Egypt yesterday.

He faces tough competition with India’s Diwakar Ram who started off with five goals in the match against Singapore yesterday. The Indians won the match 10-0.

Argentina’s Guido Martin Barreiros Lopez, Kiwi Simon Child and Holland’s Bob de Gvood are just one goal behind the duo.

“It is still early and we can see that there are good players in the other teams. But I feel that I can achieve it if I can keep up a consistent scoring rate,” said Haseem.

“I have been quite consistent. At the junior level, I have scored 46 goals in over 40 matches. I have also scored six times at the senior level from seven matches.”

The 19-year-old from Karachi wants to emulate his uncle and idol, Hanif Khan, in making a mark in the national team.

“He is my role model and I took up the game after watching him play. He has won the big titles, among them the Olympics and the World Cup. I would like to follow in his footsteps. This is a passion for me and I will work hard to achieve this,” he said.

Haseem also has a brother who plays hockey. Asim was in the Pakistan national junior squad last year but he is no longer eligible to play in the age-group.

Haseem turns 19 on July 15 and is looking at giving himself a perfect birthday present by helping Pakistan lift the Cup.

“I want to help Pakistan regain the Junior World Cup. By having personal targets, it will drive me to help my team win matches here,” he said.

With two wins in the bag, Pakistan are looking at beating defending champions Argentina and Belgium as well in their remaining Group A matches.

Junior World Cup :: Champions Argentina get off to flying start

Argentina began the defence of the Junior World Cup with a 9-3 win over lowly Russia in a Group A at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here.

Nahuel Salis set Argentina on the road to victory with a field goal in the ninth minute before Guido Martin Barreiros Lopez scored the first of his four goals in the 14th minute. Barreiros Lopez was also on target in the 30th, 31st and 68th minutes.

The other scorers for Argentina were Leandro Tolini (23rd), Agustin Mazzilli (26th, 49th) and Juan Cruz Aguilleiro (66th).

The Russians replied through Alexey Mayorov (30th) and Nikolai Yankun (61st, 70th).

In another match, Pakistan chalked up their second win in Group A, beating Egypt 3-0.

The Pakistanis were lethargic yesterday and for most part of the match laboured against the defensive Egypt, who did well to end the first half without conceding a goal by clearing the ball quickly out of danger.

Haseem Khan finally broke the duck and eased the pressure on Pakistan with a field goal in the 46th minute. Four minute later, Kashif Ali scored from the penalty corner. Haseem went on to score his second goal of the match in the 54th minute.

Pakistan coach K.M. Junaid was pleased with the result but felt that the humid conditions affected his players.

“Having to play twice in a row and that too under such humid weather was tough on the young players,” he said.

“I am glad that we did not falter. These are points we need to make the second round. There are still two tough matches but the players will gain in confidence from this win.”

Pakistan play against Argentina tomorrow and wrap up their group fixtures against Belgium on Friday.

Junior World Cup :: Belgians plot to ambush the Argentines

The underdogs in Group A for a second round berth, Belgium, aim to ambush defending champions Argentina and pick up at least a point.

Team manager Phil Rooseleer said that their chances making the second round would very much depend on how they fared against Argentina and also Pakistan.

“If we can get a point off either of them, then there is a chance for us to go through. We would like to think that we can upset one of them here,” he said. “Although we beat Egypt 5-1 in the opening match (on Sunday), we had a poor outing. We were over cautious and at one stage the match looked headed for a draw. But, thankfully, our penalty corners worked.”

Rooseleer said besides 17-year-old drag flicker Maximillian Peters, who scored a hat-trick in the win over Egypt, they had another ace in the pack for penalty corners.

“I don’t want to reveal his name just yet. He is even better than Peters. We will let him loose tomorrow against the champions,” he said.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Junior World Cup :: A winning start for Malaysia

Forward Faizal Saari scored the crucial goal to give Malaysia a 1-0 victory over England in their opening Group C match of the Junior World Cup Finals at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here yesterday.

It was a supreme performance from the Kelantan player, who was in the sin bin for 12 minutes when he was yellow carded in the 18th minute.

But as soon as he came back on, Malaysia earned a penalty corner and Faizal, who is the main drag flicker for the team, made no mistake with his attempt. The 30th-minute goal was enough to give Malaysia full points.

Malaysia got off to a nervous start but gained in confidence as the match wore on.

For most of the second half, the Malaysians defended in their half but they were dangerous on the counter attack to keep England goalkeeper Ian Scanlon on the alert.

The Malaysians were determined to win the match and held out on three penalty corners in the last 15 minutes of the match.

Coach K. Rajan was happy with the result but felt that the team could have done much better.

“There is room for improvement and we need to step up a gear. The important thing is for the players to recover quickly for the match with the Koreans tomorrow,” he said after the match.

“A few of the players came down with cramps and we need to ensure that they are back on their feet quickly. The Koreans play a fast game and we have to be ready for it.”

In the other Group C match, South Korea routed the United States 7-0. Drag flicker Lee Woo-geun scored a hat-trick from penalty corners in the ninth, 25th and 29th minutes.

The Koreans had full control of the match and opened accounts through Kang Moon-kyu in the 18th minute. His twin brother, Moon-kweon, was also on target in the 44th minute. The other scorers for the Koreans were Lee Dong-hyun (47th) and Kim Ju-hun (58th).

South Korean coach Shin Seok-kyu said he was happy with the win and hoped to collect three points as well in the match against Malaysia today.

“Yes, I believe that we can beat Malaysia in our next game. It was a good start and the big win should only boost the players confidence. We want a convincing win,” he said.

Junior World Cup :: Korean twins set for big roles in senior team

South Korean will for the first time in their international hockey history have identical twins in their ranks.

The Kang brothers, Moon-kyu and Moon-kweon, were born just two minutes apart. But their paths have gone very much the same way as they make their debut in the Junior World Cup Finals.

The older Moon-kweon has in fact gone one step ahead, having played for the senior side in the Beijing Olympics last year.

Team manager Shin Seok-kyu said yesterday that both players were among the most talented ones in their side and they would certainly make the grade to the senior team.

“Both are university students and have started playing hockey full time. They are set to play for the national team for a long time,” he said.

The twins hail from the Kim Hae. Moon-kyu studies at the Cho Sun University while Moon-kweon is with the Korean Sports University.

“I brought them into the junior squad three years ago when I was appointed coach,” said Seok-kyu.

“It was through a talent spotting exercise at a school game that I saw them in action. I was sure that they will go far and so far I have been proven right.”

Moon-kweon plays in the forward line while Moon-kyu is their playmaker, taking the centre-half role.

“What makes them different is the extra work they put in training. Usually when we finish, they will still continue training on their own. They are very committed and I have no doubt about their ability,” said Seok-kyu.

The twins are assured of places in the national senior team as Seok-kyu will take over the helm after the Junior World Cup Finals.

“It is not favouritism ... they deserve the places. I am sure they will prove themselves in this tournament,” he said.

Junior World Cup :: Pakistanis go on scoring spree against the Russians

Former Junior World Cup champions Pakistan started off their campaign here with a bang when they hammered Russia 7-2 in a Group A match at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium yesterday.

Pakistan’s senior team player Haseem Khan chalked up a hat-trick, scoring in the sixth, 49th and 66th minutes.

Kashif Ali scored a brace (56th, 70th) while Shafqat Ali and Zubair Mohamed added the other goals in the 21st and 53rd minutes respectively.

Russia earned their goals through Alexey Mayorov and Nikolai Yankun in the 28th and 52nd minutes.

Pakistan coach K.M. Junaid said that they were happy to start on a winning note.

“Winning big in an opening match is a bonus. It is a good start for us and we need to build on it. We started off nervously but settled down when we got the early goals,” he said.

Pakistan, winners of the trophy in 1979, have another easy match today against Egypt, who were beaten 1-5 by Belgium yesterday.

Belgian young defender Maximillian Peters scored the first hat-trick of the tournament. Peters put Belgium in front with a field goal in the 24rd minute.

One minute into the second half, Belgium increased their lead when Renaud Pangrazio scored from top D.

The Egyptians pulled a goal back in the 41st minute when Houssam Ghabran scored from a field attempt.

As the Egyptians opened up play, the Belgians were able to make good use of their counter attacks.

In a three-minute spell from the 67th minute, Belgium scored three goals. Peters scored in the 67th and 69th minute off two penalty corners while Alexandre de Paeuw added the fifth in the 70th minute.