Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Razie hat-trick hand KLHC Charity Shield

NATIONAL player Razie Rahim's hat-trick handed Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) the Charity Shield when they beat Tenaga Nasional 5-3 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
   The Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division curtain raiser also handed four-time consecutive double champions KLHC three vital points.
   "The Charity Shield Trophy is nice to lift, but more importantly, my players fought for three points which is a first step towards defending our League title," said KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj.
   KLHC fielded six foreign players, while Tenaga had an-all local outfit.
   "My six guest players have only been in the country for a few days, and the young Australians need more time to settle down as compared to my Pakistan imports. As for the locals, Razie held the fort well and also gave us the winning start," said Dharmaraj.
   Tenaga coach Nor Saiful Zaini, whose team won the Charity Shield by beating KLHC in a penalty shoot-out, rued his missed chances.
   "We missed many sitters which could have made the difference.  And also, KLHC players had more ball sense and control, while some of my young players could not hold onto the ball and threw away many passes which turnd the match in favour of KLHC," said Nur Saiful.
   On the sideline, Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) gave a token of appreciation to veteran coach C. Paramalingam who turned 80, for his tireless efforts in developing youth even as an octogenarian.
   On the Charity Shield, hopefully, if was not an indication of the  quality of play in the Premier Division, as poor hockey was the order of the day -- from the local as well as foreign players.
   Tenaga Nasional were more composed in the opening minutes of the game, as KLHC's foreign brigade failed to gel properly in their first outing together, and Ramadhan Rosli gave the Utility Giants the lead in the ninth minute off a field goal.
   National penalty corner flicker Razie Rahim got into action in the 19th minute, and equalised with a low penalty corner flick and the game opened up a little.
   Goals flew after that, as Rahim Baharom gave KLHC the lead in the 26th minute, only to see TNB's Amin Rahim draw level again at 2-2 with a 28th minute penalty corner.
   Razie retook the lead with his penalty corner brace in the 29th minute, and again TNB drew level at 3-3 with an Azammi Adabi penalty corner goal in the 32nd minute.
  Pakistan import Mohamed Imran nailed the fourth goal for KLHC in the 42nd minute, and Razie got his hat-trick in the 57th for a comfortable 5-3 win.
   RESULTS: Charity Shield: Tenaga Nasional 3 KLHC 5.
   FRIDAY : Sapura v Maybank (6pm), UniKL v Terengganu HT (8pm). 
   SUNDAY: Tenaga v Terengganu HT (6pm, National Stadium, Pitch I); Sapura v UniKL (6pm, National Stadium, Pitch II); KLHC v Maybank (8pm, National Stadium, Pitch II). 

Monday, October 27, 2014

More money less teams in MHL Premier Division

NOTE: WITH champions trophy in December, top German, Aussies, Indian, Pakistani players not in MHL. Even Koreans are the recently retired ones.

 PIC: Nur Azmi Ahmad

THERE is plenty of money being pumped into the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) , but the number of teams is steadily declining.
    The MHL Premier Division, the pride of Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC), will only see six teams competing from this weekend, one less from last season.
   Dominating Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC), four-time back-to-back double champions, will start against Tenaga Nasional in a Charity Shield match this Wednesday, while the two-leg action begins from Friday.
   The other four teams are Terengganu HT, Sapura, Maybank and UniKL.
   Yesterday, title sponsors Tenaga Nasional came in with RM2 million for the entire year’s domestic commitments. In total, TNB has invested RM12 million into the local leagues since 2006.
   One reason for the decline is that the quality-player pool is drying up, and teams have resorted to hiring foreign players to lay their hands on the two titles.
   Maybank have signed three foreign players in goalkeeper Moritz Knobloch from Germany, and Pakistanis Shakeel Abassi and Abdul Haseem Khan who were both members of the silver medal-winning team in the Incheon Asian Games while defending champions KLHC, coached by K. Dharmaraj, have six foreign signings.
    Dharma’s foreign pack includes two young Australians - Harrison Page and Matthew Mallinson, both 20 years of age, and Pakistanis Akhtar Ali, Waseem Ahmad, Fareed Ahmad and Muhammad Imran.
    Terengganu Hockey Team has registered five Koreans in penalty-corner specialist Jang Jong-hyun, Bae Jeong-seok, Seo Jong-ho and brothers Kang Moon-kyu and Kang Moon-Kweon
   Sapura also have four Pakistan players, UniKL four foreign players. The only all-local side is Tenaga Nasional.
    MHC vice-president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad said the TNB-MHL is seen as the answer to producing talented players.
   “With the presence of a stellar cast of foreign players in the TNB-MHL, the quality of the league is unquestionable,” said Nur Azmi.
   But with so many foreign players earning a handsome keep in the Premier Division, many budding local talent will have to watch from the sidelines.
   Juniors team manager Mirnawan Nawawi did say, after his charges finished fifth in the Sultan of Johor Cup, that he will be scouting for talent in the Premier Division of the MHL to strengthen his 2016 Junior World Cup trainees.
   But its the same old local faces playing for the six clubs, so talent scouting is out of the question.
   TOMORROW -- Charity Shield: KLHC v Tenaga (6pm, National Stadium, Pitch II).
   FIRST LEG -- FRIDAY : Sapura v Maybank (6pm), UniKL v Terengganu HT (8pm).
   SUNDAY: Tenaga v Terengganu HT (6pm, National Stadium, Pitch I); Sapura v UniKL (6pm, National Stadium, Pitch II); KLHC v Maybank (8pm, National Stadium, Pitch II).   

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Malaysia finish fifth in SOJC

NATIONAL coach Arul Selvaraj let his team loose for 24 hours, and they dished out a much better performance to beat Pakistan 3-1 to finish fifth in the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Stadium yesterday.
   After a 2-2 draw against Pakistan in the pool match on Saturday, the coach asked his players to hold their own discussions and formulate their own plans to face Pakistan again in the Fifth-Sixth classification.
   "Summing up the tournament, we had two draws (2-2 against Pakistan and 1-1 against New Zealand) and one win today (yesterday) and considering that we did not lose by big margins to finalists Britain (2-1) and India (4-2) I feel the it was not a bad outing," said Arul.
   If Malaysia had beaten Pakistan in the last pool match, just by a goal, they would have played in the Third-Fourth classification against Australia.
   "Considering how close we were to playing in the bronze medal playoff, I told the boys that they must now plan on their won on how to beat Pakistan and finish fifth. They held their own meeting, and even during the game, I let they loose and did not coach them much today (yesterday) they showed that they can play hockey," said Arul.
   Malaysia took a 3-0 lead against Pakistan with goals from skipper Haziq Samsul (sixth), Najmi Farizal (24th) and Shahril Saabah (32nd). The Pakistan goal was scored by Mohamed Naveed in the 45th minute.
   Skipper Haziq summed up the tournament: "We did not do as well as the coach and the public expected from us in the SOJC, but I believe if this team is also given as much exposure as the previous Junior World Cup team in overseas tournaments as well as training matches, we will also make the country proud in 2016.
   "I believe the coach must select more players from the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League) and inject into the 2016 training squad as this will be healthy competition for the present batch and nobody will take their positions for granted," said Haziq.
    Meanwhile, Malaysia will play in Round Two of the World Hockey League in Singapore in Jan 17-25 next year and must finish among the top three to qualify for the World League Semi-finals.
   The tournament in Singapore will see Malaysia battling against Bangladesh, Japan, Oman, Poland, Singapore, Ukraine and either Papua New Guinea or Fiji.
    RESULTS: Fifth-Sixth:  Malaysia 3 Pakistan 1; Third-Fourth: Australia 6 New Zealand 2; Final: Great Britain 1 India 2.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Arul: I expected too much...

MALAYSIA played their worst game of the Sultan of Johor Cup when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Pakistan at the Taman Daya Stadium yesterday.
   The draw will see last year's silver medallist playing Pakistan again in the Fifth-Sixth classification match today. The final will be between India and Great Britain.
  For the record, Pakistan coach Muhammad Ibrahim said his charges only had 12 days of training and he is very proud of their fighting spirit against Malaysia.
   "We selected the team a day before flying off to Malaysia, and played our first match as a team when we met Britain in the opening clash," said Ibrahim.
  As for Malaysian coach Arul Selvaraj: "I expected too much from this team, and I am disappointed that their maturity, physical and tactical side was a letdown. So I blame myself for their failure as I expected too much from this set of players."
    Malaysia needed four goals to play against Australia in the third-fourth classification match, but a pathetic start saw them trail Pakistan by a goal in the 17th minute.
   Pakistan, who had let in 15 goals before the Malaysia match, scored only their fourth goal of the tournament when Ali Mubashar was on target off their second penalty corner.
   As for Malaysia, the cake went to Ashran Hamsani for losing the grip on his hockey stick and letting it fly high instead of the ball in the early minutes of the game.
   And with 40 seconds left, the cake went to Azril Misron for failing to connect a perfect across-the-goal-mouth cross.
   Malaysia had nine penalty corners in the first half, and only perfected number eight in the 31st minute when Shahril Saabah nailed the equaliser.
   And 10 minutes after the re-start, it was evident that Malaysia are not going to meet their target, and will play Pakistan again in the fifth-sixth classification today.
  12th pc 
   Fifty-two minutes into the match Malaysia finally took the lead for the first time, when Shahril scored his brace off Malaysia's 12th penalty corner.
   But even before one could savour the moment, Pakistan equalised in the 55th when Mohsin Sabir's reverse stick went sailing in.
   The heavens opened up with five minutes on the clock, but even after the restart, there was no change in the Malaysian attitude and the score remained.
   India, who had 10 players who came out of the country for the first time, thrashed Australia 6-2 to confirm a date with Great Britain in the final today.
   Coach Harendra Singh had always emphasised that: "I have 10 players who made their first passposts and came out of the country to play. But they have shown that they have what it takes to play good hockey and improve with every match to make the final."
   India, the defending champions, only lost to Britain 2-0 in the pool match.
   RESULTS: Australia 2 India 6; Pakistan 2 Malaysia 2; New Zealand x Great Britain x.
   TODAY: Fifth-Sixth:  Malaysia v Pakistan (3.30pm); Third-Fourth: Australia v New Zealand (6.05pm); Final: Great Britain v India (8.35pm).


                                 P  W  D  L  F  A Pts
G BRITAIN           4  4   0    0  15  3   12
INDIA                     5  4   0    1  18  7   12
AUSTRALIA        5  2   1    2  10  16   7
N ZEALAND        4  1   1    2  8  9    4
MALAYSIA          5 0   2    3  8  12   2
PAKISTAN           5  0   2    3  5  17   2

MALAYSIA: Ridzwan Azmi, Fitri Jasni, Ashran Hamsani, Luqman Nul Haqim, Azril Misron, Najib Hassan, Meor Azuan, Sufi Ismat, Haziq Samsul, Firdaus Omar, Norsyafiq Sumantri, Amirol Aideed, Shahril Saabah, Syed Shafiq, Ahmad Ashraf, Azwar Rahman, D. Selvanayagam, Najmi Farizal.

Products of a rotten system

THE Sultan of Johor Cup is such a popular tournament that Germany, Britain and Argentina have already made requests to play in the next edition.

   Malaysia won gold the first edition in 2011, and the very next year the hosts finished last. A comeback in 2013 saw them clinch silver, and today they will be fighting for their lives against Pakistan, who are again their possible opponents in the fifth-sixth classification on Sunday.

   Malaysian coach Arul Selvaraj said he did not have enough time to prepare this side, as the team was only formed in March, but then, these set of players have been playing hockey in school, then 1Mas, and many other age group tournaments before they were spotted and included into national juniors training squad.

   Are these the best players that we have in the country right now? If yes, Malaysia's grassroots development is not working, as the best juniors in the country are not only weak in the basics, but also mentally not ready and possibly will never be ready.

   The senior team  is now dubbed as 'the almost there' players, after they missed the boat to Rio de Janeiro by dishing out an almost there performance in the Asian Games.

    And by the present trend, one can also judge that hockey is no longer played by the Punjabis, Indians, Chinese and Eurasians. At the Asian Games, goalkeeper S. Kumar was the sole representative of the lain-lain category, while in the juniors at the SOJC, we only have D. Selvanayagam.

    This is a worrying trend, as schools no longer have a sound development programme to cater for this team sport, and the task has beeen left in the hands of states, where 1Mas is the biggest shareholder, while a few clubs are also active in developing players, but it is still not enough.

   Overall it looks like there has been a drastic increase in the number of players since five years ago, but quality has been compromised as the present batch of players look like they have no mindset of their own, and are akin to robots who do not know what to do when faced with a new problem which they are not programmed for.

    Former national coach and K. Dharmaraj and his assistant K. Gobinathan are now in Europe and have been to Spain, Germany and Netherlands and are still moving from club to club looking at their development programmes, with an eye of forming a blueprint which will hopefully take Malaysia out of the doldrums in the next decade.

    Their travel jottings are posted on FB at Dharma Hockey Academy. And among the points which hit this scribe hard was that hockey is being played by five-year-olds who are taught the basics. They are also taught how  to run properly, by athletics coaches, so that they keep the good habit for the rest of their  hockey playing lives.

   These are just two examples of how great the developments are at club levels in Europe.  In Malaysia the planning and execution is still at a haphazard level, and that is why we have a rojak team in the Fourth SOJC.

   SATURDAY: Australia v India (4pm); Pakistan v Malaysia (6pm); New Zealand v Great Britain (8pm).


                                 P  W  D  L  F  A Pts

G BRITAIN           4  4   0    0  15  3   12

INDIA                     4  3   0    1  12  5   9

AUSTRALIA        4  2   1    1  8  10    7

N ZEALAND        4  1   1    2  8  9   4

MALAYSIA          4  0   1    3  6  10   1

PAKISTAN           4  0   1    3  3  15   1