Friday, January 11, 2008

No surprises expected in semis


THE Malaysia Hockey League quarter-finals begin this weekend and it looks
like the top four teams in the League should make the semi-finals.
League champions Tenaga Nasional have the easiest outing. They take on
eighth-placed Pahang Sports Council tomorrow and a win looks imminent. The
return leg on Sunday should be a formality.
The only team from the bottom half of the table likely to put on a fight
is is Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN).
BSN meet Ernst & Young and the clash is expected to be the match of the
weekend as there is a hint of revenge involved. BSN beat Ernst & Young 1-0
for the Overall title last season, but this year, only one of the two will
advance to the last four.
In the League, BSN and Ernst & Young drew 1-1, so little separates the
two teams even though one finished third and the other sixth in the League
Tenaga are serious about winning the Overall title this year as they
have always faltered at this stage. To make sure they reach the final this
year, they went to Malacca looking for a fresh angle.
Sapura are also expected to have an easy time against Royal Malay
But Maybank will have to play their best against Royal Malaysian Customs
because the newcomers have some wily veterans in their side, and are
dangerous in the second half.
FIXTURES - Tomorrow (1st leg): Pahang SC v Tenaga Nasional (Tun Razak
Stadium, 6pm); Bank Simpanan Nasional v Ernst & Young (Tun Razak Stadium,
8pm); Sapura v Royal Malay Regiment (KL Stadium, 8pm); Royal Malaysian
Customs v Maybank (Pandamaran Stadium, 5.15pm).
Sunday (2nd leg): Maybank v Royal Malaysian Customs (Tun Razak Stadium,
6pm); Royal Malay Regiment v Sapura (Tun Razak Stadium, 8pm); Tenaga
Nasional v Pahang SC (KL Stadium, 8pm); Ernst & Young v Bank Simpanan
Nasional (KL Stadium, 8pm).

FIH outlaws changing of sticks


THE International Hockey Federation (FIH) dealt Malaysia a severe blow
when its Executive Board outlawed the changing of sticks during penalty
corners and strokes effective Jan 1, 2004.
Malaysian skipper S. Kuhan has been steadily improving his penalty
corner conversion rate by using a curved stick during penalty corners but
the FIH has killed what could have been a great advantage for Malaysia in
the Madrid Olympic Qualifiers in March next year.
Kuhan, clearly disappointed with the FIH decision when met yesterday,
could only shake his head in disbelief when told of the new ruling.
"Just when things started looking better for me during penalty corners,
such a ruling had to be passed by the FIH. I have no choice but to start
practicing with my playing stick after the Asia Cup next month," said
The national skipper scored six penalty corner goals during the recent
Champions Challenge - by making full use of his reserve hockey stick which
was lighter and had a slight curve which gave maximum power during flicks
Two other penalty corner specialists also affected are Pakistan's Sohail
Abbas and German Florian Kunz.
Both the players change their sticks during penalty corners and have
been scoring regularly in tournaments.
Malaysian Hockey Federation secretary S. Satgunam, who is aware of the
new ruling, could not shed light on it. But the MHF has decided to do away
with the `three man' ruling which was experimented with during the
Malaysia Hockey League.
"Since there was no mention about the three man ruling (which only
allowed eight players to remain in their own half and defend at all times)
we will only enforce it for the duration of the MHL, but do away with it
for the Razak Cup," said Satgunam.
It was also reported on the FIH website that: "The FIH Executive Board
has recommended that further study be undertaken to examine the
technological feasibility of the use of a third, video umpire to assist
with major umpiring decisions."
FIH's Umpiring Committee began experimenting with the technology since
the Women's World Cup in November 2002 and experimenting continued at the
Azlan Shah Cup in January 2003. Limitations have been encountered in the
level of assistance that hockey's current video technology is able to

Turfs for TBSS and SMK Putri


NEGRI Sembilan will host the Malaysia Games next year and two schools in
the State are already reaping the benefits.
The Seremban Municipal Council (SMC) has decided to re-turf the pitches
at the Seremban II Hockey Stadium and the old artificial turf will be sent
to SMK Puteri in Seremban and Tunku Besar Secondary School (TBSS) in
Negri Sembilan HA secretary Anthony Dass said the turf will be laid once
the schools prepare their pitches.
"The SMC has agreed to send the old turf (which are still in very good
condition) to SMK Puteri and TBSS. Once the schools have their pitches
ready they will get the turf," said Dass.
Tampin District HA, the most active affiliate of the Negri Sembilan HA,
requested for the turf to revive the game in what was once the bastion of
hockey in Negri.
"We are very grateful to the Menteri Besar Tan Sri Isa Abdul Samad,
deputy president of the NSHA Datuk Abdullah Sani, Negri State Education
Department, the Seremban Municipal Council and the principal of the Tunku
Besar Secondary School, without whose help, this dream could not have been
realised," said Tampin District HA president Datuk Dr R.L. Annandan.
TBSS used to produce national players with the most famous ones being N.
Palanisamy and Dr Bryan Jayhan Siva. The most recent contribution from the
school is national goalkeeper S. Kumar.
But after the retirement of hockey master V. Sivapathasundram, hockey
took a backseat at the school and Datuk Taha of Gemencheh, under Mohamed
Roslan, started producing national players.
Suhaimi Ibrahim, Nor Azlan Rahim and Fairuz Affendy have become
household names in sleepy Gemencheh.
Hockey is almost non-existent at two former great schools in Seremban
who were synonymous with producing great hockey players - King George V
and St Paul's Institution, and the pitch in Tampin is a timely injection.
But there remains a problem: TBSS does not have a qualified hockey coach
presently. "We have requested a hockey coach from the Negri Education
Department with the help of Abdullah Sani, and hopefully, he will arrive
before the pitch is laid at the school," said Annandan.

Team under investigation


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) Standing Committee met yesterday to
discuss the alleged misconduct of two Malaysian players during the
Champions Challenge in Randburg, South Africa, but due to the seriousness
of the allegation, has decided to call all 18 players before passing
A tabloid had alleged that two Malaysian players had women in their
rooms before the Malaysia-England fifth-sixth classification match, and
that the MHF should investigate the matter.
The Standing Committee, made up of MHF deputy president Tan Sri P.
Alagendra, secretary S. Satgunam, vice-presidents Dr S.S. Cheema and Roy
Rajasingam and secretary George Koshy deliberated for two hours yesterday
and called in team manager Zulkifli Abbas and assistant coach Yahya Atan.
"We have spoken to Zulkifli and Yahya but since this is a very serious
allegation, the committee has decided not to arrive at any hasty
We will be calling up all 18 players next Tuesday, one-by-one, to hear
their side of the story before making a Press statement," said Satgunam.
MHF has pledged to leave no stone unturned to get to the truth.
"But if, after a thorough investigation, we find that there is no truth
in the allegation, we will take action against those responsible in
spreading the rumour."

Hilim the SportExcel star


HILMI Abdul Rahman emerged as the new star at the conclusion of the
SportExcel-Rahman Putra Malaysian Junior Matchplay Championship yesterday.
But his true test will come next weekend when attempts to add the Asian
Matchplay title to add to the one he won yesterday.
Hilmi, 17, who hopes to turn pro in three years' time and has a string
of runner-up finishes in his age-group, beat Aidil Haris 4-3 in
yesterday's final and is looking forward to a golden finish in the Asian
Matchplay at the Rahman Putra Golf Club on Aug 26.
"Somehow, my best finish has always been second since I started playing
in the SportExcel circuit four years ago. But today (yesterday) my putter
was hot and I finally beat my more established team-mates to the title,"
said the lanky Hilmi.
Hilmi, of Kota Permai Golf and Country Club, had a slow start as he
qualified sixth but in the matchplay, he stubbornly held on.
"I trained five hours a day at the Kota Permai Academy for the past
three months and it has finally paid off. Now I am looking forward to lift
the Asian title next week," added Hilmi.
Malaysia will be represented by 12 golfers in the Asian Matchplay, while
12 foreign golfers have confirmed with Korean Eric Chu, 14, being the
early favourite.
"I am dead serious about turning pro when I turn 20 in three years'
time. I am sure I will start my quest by lifting the Asian title at this
course next week," said Hilmi.
Strokeplay Qualifying Scores: 75 Shah Farique, Iylia Jamli, Hanafiah
Jamil; 76 Damian Chin; 77 Edmund Au, Hilmi Abdul Rahman; 78 Anis Helmi; 79
Aidil Haris, Hazrq hamizan; 80 Bernard Chan, Teo Eu Gene, Mohamed Atiq,
Alex Tiong; 82 Arvin Chong; 83 Alfred Tan; 84 Ken Wong.
Championship Pool: Hilmi Abdul rahman (4); Aidil Harris (3); Edmund Au
(1); Bernard Chan (0).
Plate Pool: Anis Helmi (4); Haziq Hamizan (3); Damian Chin (1); Arvin
Chong (0).

MHF to conduct inquiry


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) has instructed Champions Challenge
team manager Zulkifli Abbas to submit a report on the alleged misconduct
by two players during the tournament in Randburg, South Africa on July 19-
The move comes about after Johnson Fernandez of the Malay Mail alleged
in his Game All column on Aug 17 that two Malaysian players "with long
hair" had women in their rooms the night before Malaysia lost the fifth-
sixth classification match to England.
"We (MHF) have nothing to hide, in fact, we were taken aback by the
article because when chief coach Paul Lissek briefed us on the performance
of the team in South Africa, there was not a single mention about
discipline problems, or women being brought into the rooms of players
before the match against England.
"However, since the allegations have surfaced, we have directed team
manager Zulkifli to submit a new report which the standing committee will
deliberate on," said S. Satgunam.
The MHF also feel that there is no need for them to set up an
independent body to probe the allegations.
"We have our own mechanism to deal with such matters. The MHF
Disciplinary Board, chaired by Datuk Mohamed Anwar, is very independent
because none of the members, other than the chairman, hold any positions
in the MHF.
"We will hold an internal inquiry to find out the truth. If our findings
are that the two players have been victimised, we might take action
against those who have tarnished the name of the sport," said Satgunam.
Zulkifli, who was at the MHF office in Bukit Jalil yesterday to submit
his report, said: "On the night of the alleged misconduct, the team had a
video session until 11pm, and we got up early the next morning because the
classification match against England was at 10am."
Zulkifli also said that the players had very little time on their own in
South Africa, as they attended training in the mornings and evenings when
there was a rest day.
"We had two rest days, and the organisers provided us with a bus to go
sight seeing but Lissek refused both the offers because he wanted the boys
to train two sessions a day.
"I will not comment on the alleged misconduct because I have to submit a
report to the MHF standing committee and they can announce it after their
own investigations."