Monday, July 21, 2008
Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) competitions committee chairman Datuk Dr S.S. Cheema yesterday said the 18 will be selected soon by juniors coach V. Muraleedharan.
“The junior team have just returned from the Asia Cup (in Hyderabad, India) and we do not know if any of them are injured or unable to play in the Razak Cup,” said Cheema.
“That is why Muralee will select his 18 players soon and release the others to play for their respective states.”
The tournament will be played in a two-division format with Singapore as the only invited team. Last year, Johor won their second consecutive title while Perak were the runners-up.
Sixteen-time champions Kuala Lumpur took the Division Two title, and will be back in Division One for this edition.
“The rules are still the same, all players must represent the state they were born in and if any player wishes to represent another state he must get a release letter to be eligible,” said Cheema.
The Razak Cup is expected to be keenly contested this year as even senior national players, who will not see Beijing Olympics action, will be released to play for their states.
By Sportswriter Zhou Huimin
Field hockey was first played as a men's competition at the Summer Games in London in 1908 with six teams from England, Ireland and Scotland, but it was not until the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928 it became a regular medal sport. Women's hockey first appeared at the Olympics in Moscow in 1980.
BEIJING, July 21 (Xinhua) -- China's hockey teams have obtained a direct entry to the Beijing Olympics as hosts, but it won't be easy for them to stand out in the tournament.
Since the Champions Trophy in May and June, the Chinese teams have whipped up form for the Olympics. The women's team have set sights on a long-awaited medal, while the men's side are seeking atop-eight breakthrough.
However, it's unlucky for both the Chinese men's and women's teams to be drawn to face powerful rivals.
The Chinese men's team are bundled with world championship runner-up Germany, fourth-ranked Spain and No. 5 South Korea. Rated 17th, China are currently the lowest-ranked in the men's tourney.
China's South Korean coach Kim Sang Ryul admitted it was impossible to win a medal, adding a top-eight finish was a realistic goal.
Likewise, the Chinese women, ranked sixth in the world, will face the world titlists the Netherlands, 2000 Olympic champions Australia and Asian powerhouse South Korea.
Coached by non-nonsense South Korean Kim Chang Back since 1999,the Chinese women qualified for the final stage at the Sydney Olympic Games for the first time and finished fifth.
They finished fourth at the Athens Olympics and won a gold medal at the 2006 Doha Asian Games.
With the Chinese teams undergoing intense training, their powerful opponents, such as Germany, Australia and the Netherlands, have geared up for Olympic medals.
In the men's field, Germany hope to bounce back from June's defeat to win their first Olympic gold in 16 years.
The Germans lost their world top ranking to defending Olympic champions Australia when they finished fifth in the Champions Trophy in the Netherlands.
While Australia are looking to defend their title, the Netherlands, whose dream for their third straight Olympic gold was dashed by the Australians, are hoping for a comeback.
On the women's side, world champions the Netherlands hope to revenge the Athens Olympic final defeat to Germany, while a hard duel against the formidable Argentina will be inevitable.
Germany, the defending champions, hope to continue their gold dream. Australia, the winners of three golds in the last six Olympics, also want to repeat their glory.
Despite so-called home advantage, the Chinese teams have nothing else in their favor, said Kim Chang Back.
"Anyone can win. It's an open house in Beijing," said Pargat Singh, former captain of India, a dominant power on grass before the mid-1990s. "Being consistent will be the key."