Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hafiq has one week to regain his touch


KUALA LUMPUR: Penalty corner specialist Mohd Nor Hafiq Abdul Gaffar is racing against time to get fit for the Junior World Cup Finals, which Malaysia will co-host with Singapore from June 7-21.

The Batu Pahat defender was out of action for three weeks after undergoing surgery for appendicitis in Kuantan on May 5. He only resumed training last Thursday.

Coach K. Rajan said that Nor Hafiq was given a chance to play a friendly match against the national senior side for 10 minutes and he was unimpressive.

“He looked rusty but I need him in my game plan for the penalty corner flicks. He has one week to get back into shape for the Ju­­nior World Cup,” said Rajan.

“Nor Hafiq was our top penalty corner flicker in the team but after a three-week layoff, he has dropped to third choice.’’

Rajan added that forward Faizal Saari was now the main flicker while defender Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin is the second choice.

The 19-year-old Nor Hafiq was the toast of the team in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney in January, scoring five goals in four matches. In a playing tour of Europe in March, he scored four goals in the nine matches.

Nor Hafiq said that he was concerned about his fitness level and also the lack of power in his penalty corner flicks.

“I only have a week to get fit for the Junior World Cup and I have to work overtime to regain my form,” he said. “I am also going to the gym daily to work on my wrist muscles to put more power in my penalty corner flicks.”

There are 21 players in the training squad and three will be dropped by Thursday.

Malaysia will open their campaign in Group C against England on June 7. Their other matches are against South Korea (June 8), the United States (June 10) and Spain (June 12).

Group A have defending champions Argentina, Belgium, Egypt, Pakistan and Russia while Australia, Germany, Chile, Japan and South Africa are drawn in Group B. Group D comprises Singapore, India, Holland, Poland and New Zealand.

The Group A and C matches will be held at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru while the other two groups will be played at the Seng­kang Stadium in Singapore. The top two teams in each group qualify for the second round from June 14.

Tengku Abdullah gives a broad hint...

MALAYSIAN Hockey Federation (MHF) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah was so impressed with the facilities at the Taman Daya Stadium on his final inspection yesterday, that he feels it could also host the men’s senior world cup next year.
And in a week’s time, it would be the turn of the national juniors to impress the Tengku Mahkota of Pahang, as he wants to see them in the semi-finals of the Junior World Cup.
Tengku Abdullah and MHF top brass first visited the newly built stadium and: “Given the short notice to complete it, I am very pleased that now we have two excellent pitches and all the other necessary facilities to hold a world class tour nament.
“ In fact the facilities here are so good that I believe we can use it for the Men's World Cup next year, if Malaysia is to be given the host’s job.”
India are the hosts for the 2010 World Cup, but many countries are said have voiced their concern to the In ternational Hockey Federation (FIH) over security, and Malaysia are said to have been placed on standby.
FIH have also given India until next month to get the Indian Hockey Federation back in order, if they want to host the senior world cup.
After visiting the stadium, Tengku Abdullah met the play ers for half an hour: “Strive to reach the semi-finals, as the country’s hopes are placed on your shoulders,” he told the boys.
Tengku Abdullah also appealed to hockey fans, par ticularly from Johor, to turn out in numbers to motivate the youngsters.
To reach the semi-finals, Malaysia must first finish top-two in Group C, which also has Spain, South Korea, USA and England.
For the record, Malaysia finished 10th in the Junior World Cup four years ago in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.