Thursday, October 29, 2009
Group B: Japan 10 Kazakhstan 0, South Korea 17 Sri Lanka 0.
THE National women’s hockey team beat Thailand 3-0 in their opening encounter in the Seventh Asia Cup in Bangkok, Thailand yesterday.
The tournament offers two berths to the World Cup in Argentina next year, while the third-fifth placed teams will play in a qualifier.
And Malaysia are looking at the fifth spot, as realistically, they do not have the depth to challenge Japan and China.
Yesterday, Norfarahana Hashim scored off a penalty cor ner in the seventh minute off a penalty corner attempt. Juliani Din then made it 2-0 with another penalty corner attempt in the 24th minute.
A field goal from Norbaini Hashim in the 53rd minute, gave Malaysia a comfortable win over the hosts.
However, the Malaysian players are expected to face a torrid time when they meet China on Sunday, after a two-day rest.
Group A: China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand.
Group B: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Sri Lanka
Today: Group B: Taiwan v Hong Kong.
Tomorrow: Group A: China v Singapore, India v Thailand; Group B: South Korea v Hong Kong, Japan v Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan v Taiwan.
(FIH) The first Worldhockey Men’s World Cup Qualifier starts Saturday in Lille, France, with 6 teams fighting for a single ticket for the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 scheduled next March in Delhi, India. While Pakistan are the overwhelming favourites to reach the winner-take-all final next Sunday, host France have prepared well for this event and could create some surprises.
France, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Poland and Russia will be trying to join the nine teams already qualified through the Continental Championships, and the last two teams who will be qualified through Qualifiers 2 and 3, in New Zealand and Argentina, later in November.
Pakistan is the top ranked team in this competition (7th in the FIH World Rankings) and they are the logical favourites. They have never missed a World Cup and have stood four times on the highest step of the podium. With a stunning average of 123 Caps per player and twelve players with World Cup and Olympic experience, they are by far the most seasoned team! If Pakistan do not qualify for the 2010 World Cup, the news would shake the hockey world as much as the non-qualification of India for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
On the other hand, since their last honours in 1994, they have slid away from the podiums and have had to battle to be considered a top contender again. In Beijing, they produced a lacklustre performance, finishing only 8th, and, at the recent Asia Cup, they lost in the final to Korea.
Coach Shahid ALI KHAN has called back legendary penalty-corner specialist Sohail ABBAS who, at 34 and with 273 Caps to his name, will aim at participating in his... 4th World Cup, since his debut in 1998 in Utrecht.
Next in the FIH World Ranking is Japan (14th). They came very close to qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games, but were unlucky that Germany (World Cup holders and future Olympic Champions) were drawn in the same Qualifier (in Kakamigahara) after they finished a surprising 4th place at the Euro competition in Manchester.
This seemed to negatively affect the Japanese team progression, and they since have had very modest results, including a very disappointing 6th place at the Asia Cup and a 5th place at the recent Champions Challenge II, behind Poland (1st) and France (3rd), who are contenders in the Lille Qualifier. Japan will line-up in Lille as the youngest of the six teams, with an average experience of only 25 Caps and two international rookies.
France is not far behind Japan in the FIH World Rankings (17th) and have worked hard to prepare for this event at home. They openly expect to reach the final next Sunday, and then hope that the home crowd will be enough of a factor on the last day to further upset the hierarchy in the ruthless winner-take-all Final!
Coach Scott GOODHEART has put his team through an intense series of preparation matches. They finished a credible 6th at the 2009 Euro Hockey Championship, keeping their spot in the Elite category for the next European competition, and a respectable 3rd at the recent Champions Challenge II in Ireland, after beating Russia (5-3) but losing to Poland (1-3), both participants in Lille. Scott GOODHEART has selected a good mix of youth and experience. Behind veterans Frédéric SOYEZ and Mathieu DURCHON, the average number of Caps is 50 and only three players have played less than 10 international games.
Poland could very well be the dark horse in this competition. Ranked 22nd in the world, their recent results have been inconsistent. They had a superb win at the recent Champions Challenge II in Ireland, in front of 3 of the other contenders in the Lille Qualifiers (France, Japan and Russia), but soon after finished only 8th (and last) at the 2009 Euro Hockey Championship, sadly relegating them down to the European Trophy next time around.
They will line-up the oldest team in Lille (average age of 25.5) with plenty of experience despite their three international rookies. Four players were at the 2002 World Cup and eight were involved in the EHL recently with the two Poznan teams, including penalty-corner expert Tomasz DUTKIEWICZ, the charismatic, tough tackling defender who has a habit of scoring important goals for club and country, and was named Player of the Tournament at the Champions Challenge II.
The Polish players are usually extremely fit and, on a good day, can surprise any team. Their opening day match against host France could very well be a key match in the competition!
Russia, ranked just behind Poland in the World Rankings (23rd) is also another enigma for the opposition, producing irregular results but often performing well when it counts. They finished a modest 6th at the Champions Challenge II, but 2nd at the EuroHockey Trophy, winning their promotion to the top tier next time around.
At the 2008 Olympic Qualifier in Chile, they were called at the last minute to replace Bangladesh. They arrived with low expectations, having just finished their indoor season in the rough Russian winter, but, despite the intense Chilean heat and their abysmal world ranking (45th at the time), they managed to transfer their strong indoor experience to the larger field, beating the host team in a crucial game and cruising to a surprising 3rd place!
They arrive in Lille with a fairly young team, and we will need to wait for their first game against Japan to get an idea of what they are capable of producing.
Originally a reserve country, Italy were called upon after the surprise withdrawal of Egypt (ranked 21st in the world). They only finished a modest 7th at the recent EuroHockey Trophy and are coming to Lille with a very inexperienced team. Twelve players have ten Caps or less, including a total of only 4 Caps between their two goal-keepers.
The action gets underway on Saturday October 31 at the Lille Metropole Hockey Club in Lambersart. In theory, this opening day should see a predictable victory for favourites Pakistan against Italy, but the other two games, Japan vs. Russia, followed by France vs. Poland, could dictate the momentum for the rest of the competition for these four teams.
By Jugjet Singh
THE Charity Golf In Honour of Gary Player at the Mines Resort and Golf Club yesterday raised RM100,000 even though it was cut short by torrential rain.
The Gary Player Foundation received RM20,000 from the total, while RM80,000 will be distributed to selected rural schools in Sarawak.
New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd CEO Datuk Anthony Bujang, Datuk Shahril Shamsuddin, the president and CEO of the Sapura Group, and former Inspector General of Police Tun Hanif Omar were the privileged trio who played with the golfing legend.
New Straits Times Press contributed RM25,000 to the Foundation.
"It was a great feeling to be on the same flight with a legend like Gary Player. His foundation has raised a lot of money for the underprivileged children of the world," said Anthony.
"The man is full of energy at 74, and he spoke mostly about good values, health and many other topics which mesmerised our flight."
|(From left) New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd CEO Datuk Anthony Bujang, Mines City founder Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew and golfing legend Gary Player pose with a mock cheque after the Charity Golf In Honour of Gary Player at the Mines Resort and Golf Club yesterday. — Pic: Mohd Yusni Ariffin|
A total of 57 golfers took part in the nine-hole event, and after the prize presentation two drivers, autographed by Player, went under the hammer and another RM25,000 was collected for the Foundation.
Initially, only one driver was auctioned off but keen bidding by Freiberg (Malaysia) managing director Lim Chai Huat and Shahril, took the starting bid of RM2,000 to RM12,000.
This was when Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, the founder of the Mines City, came up with a brilliant idea to double the donation.
"I see that two people are very interested in the autographed driver, so we will give another autographed driver for RM10,000 to Datuk Shahril (his last bid), and one to Lim for RM12,000. And to round matters up, I will donate another RM3,000 to take the total to RM25,000," said Kim Yew.
Player said: "It is indeed a great day for charity, and my favourite question in functions that I attend is to ask people if their children go to school by car? Have a house to live in? A clean sheet to sleep on? And three meals a day?
"And then I tell them that millions of children around the world do not have any of the above. My small foundation has raised US$25 million (RM86 million) to date to help the poor children to have some basic amenities."
"My great dream, after winning all that can be won in golf, is to try and effect the lives of 200 million youth worldwide. With help from the media, I want to get the message across to them that the body is a holy temple, so look after it and you will be able to contribute more to the country and society," Player added.
By Jugjet Singh
LEGENDARY golfer Jack Nicklaus feels that the game in Asia has received a tremendous boost after it was included in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Nicklaus, in Malaysia for the Asia Pacific Golf Summit, said while he missed out on an Olympic medal, the present generation will benefit from its inclusion.
"I see a great movement in China and India, as well as Russia who are traditional gold medallists in Olympic sports," said Nicklaus yesterday.
"Now, there will be more government funding for golf in these countries which have large populations but a small golfing fraternity. And I see more people taking up the sport with the funding, and ultimately, golf will be the winner."
The movers and shakers of the golf industry are in Kuala Lumpur for a two-day conference on how to spur the growth of the sport in the Asia Pacific region.
While the selection process is yet to be announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Nicklaus hopes it will not eliminate the fun by selecting only the top-60 in the world.
|Legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus is in Malaysia for the Asia Pacific Golf Summit. — Pic: Aizuddin Saad|
"The idea now is to have 60 men and 60 women golfers in the Olympics but how they will be selected has yet to be decided," added Nicklaus.
"I guess rankings will play a big role, but to take the top 60 in the world and play another tournament will not serve the purpose of developing golf around the world.
"My opinion is that the top 30 in the world should be selected, while the remaining 30 will be qualifiers from regional tournaments.
"This way, outsiders will also have a chance to play for an Olympic gold."
Nicklaus holds the distinction of winning 18 major titles in his career, the last being the 1986 US Masters at the age of 46, thus becoming the tournament's oldest champion.
"Today, I am more into designing golf courses than playing as I don't like scores of 75-80. Also, my grandchildren post better scores than me now," quipped Nicklaus.
But on a more serious note, Nicklaus said Asian golfers will catch up and soon may have five players in the world's top-10.
"I see a major growth here (in Asia) and my business of designing courses is basically 90 per cent in this continent," he said.
"In the near future and with the push that the Olympics provide, I believe Asia will have maybe five players in the top 10 bracket."
Bangkok, Thailand – 29 October to 8 November 2009
Pool A: China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand.
Pool B: Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Sri Lanka
Date Match No Time Pool Pitch Match
Thu 29 Oct 2009 1 14:00 B 2 Japan v. Kazakhstan
2 16:00 B 2 Korea v. Sri Lanka
3 16:30 A 1 Malaysia v. Thailand
4 18:30 A 1 India v. Singapore
Fri 30 Oct 2009 5 09:00 B 1 Chinese-Taipei v. Hong Kong.
Sat 31 Oct 2009 6 14:00 B 2 Korea v. Hong Kong,
7 14:30 B 1 Japan v. Sri Lanka
8 16:00 A 2 China v. Singapore
9 16:30 A 1 India v. Thailand
10 18:30 B 1 Kazakhstan v. Chinese-Taipei
Sun 1 Nov 2009 11 14:00 A 2 Malaysia v. China
12 14:30 B 1 Hong Kong, China v. Sri Lanka
13 16:30 B 2 Kazakhstan v. Korea
14 16:30 A 1 Singapore v. Thailand
15 18:30 B 1 Chinese-Taipei v. Japan
Mon 2 Nov 2009 Rest Day
Tue 3 Nov 2009 16 14:00 B 2 Hong Kong v. Kazakhstan
17 14:30 B 1 Sri Lanka v. Chinese-Taipei
18 16:00 A 2 India v. China
19 16:30 B 1 Japan v. Korea
20 18:30 A 1 Singapore v. Malaysia
Wed 4 Nov 2009 21 14:00 B 2 Sri Lanka v. Kazakhstan
22 14:30 B 1 Chinese-Taipei v. Korea
23 16:00 B 2 Japan v. Hong Kong
24 16:30 A 1 China v. Thailand
25 18:30 A 1 Malaysia v. India
Thurs 5 Nov 2009 Rest Day