Monday, April 26, 2010

On the road with Azlan Shah Cup

Dewan Bandaraya Ipoh staff, Rashidah and Nurul, with the buses advert.
Pic: Organising Chairman Datuk Rahim Ariff (left) with Sri Maju Director Dato Yeoh Kian Teik unveiling the advert.

THE 19th Edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup will be held in Ipoh from 6th to 16th May. A total of 7 teams, Australia, South Korea, India, Pakistan, China, Egypt and Malaysia will be competing in the tournament that will be held at the Azlan Shah Stadium.
To promote the tournament, 22 Sri Maju buses will carry an advert on the event and a simple yet meaningful ceremony was held at Dewan Bandaraya Ipoh this morning. The event was officiated by Organising Chairman Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohamed Ariff, who is also the Vice President of the Malaysian Hockey Federation and President of the Perak Hockey Association.

FIH get a lesson in fix-tures

About 2,000 fans watched Australia beat Chile 5-0 at the World Cup Qualifier, in Santiago.

By Jugjet Singh

THE International Hockey Federation (FIH) are supposed to be the guardians of hockey around the globe, and their officials blind to colour and creed.
FIH officials are also expected to be the experts when it comes to drawing up fixtures in major tournaments, to make sure that no team is in a fix due to lack of rest or there is no fixing of matches to allow a favourite to sail away with gold.
The key word in both the above paragraphs is ‘supposed’ and FIH officials shot themselves on the foot when they drew up the second fixtures in the Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Chile, where Malaysia are also involved.
The first fixtures went up in smoke together with the volcano in Iceland which grounded air-travel and Malaysia, Scotland and Ireland could not make it in time for the tournament.
FIH then drew-up a second schedule, as only Chile and Australia were at the tournament grounds, while three other teams were stranded back home.
The FIH experts fixed Australia to play Chile first, and the Aussies drubbed the hosts 5-0. Then the experts gave the tournament a two-day rest, after which Malaysia were drawn to play three matches in a row with no rest.
In the same breath, FIH gave Australia a four-day rest before they meet a tired and exhausted Malaysia in their third match.
It is a norm, in any tournament, to allow any team, a days’ rest after playing two matches in a row and the FIH officials know it like the back of their hands.
But the supposedly brilliant minds in the parent body favoured Australia and Malaysia received the short end of the stick. Probably because Australia are ranked No 5 in the World while the Malaysian women No 22.
The Australians were forced to play in the Qualifier when they lost to World No 9 New Zealand in the Oceania tour nament.
Which means they are not unbeatable, and Malaysia, like any of the other teams in the Qualifier, have a shot at the glory of playing in the Argentina World Cup.
The Malaysian officials protested the second fixtures when they arrived in Chile, and interestingly, FIH agreed to draw- up a third fixture for the tournament.
And now, Malaysia will play two matches, take a day off and then play against Australia in the round-bobbin tournament which sees the most consistent team playing in the World Cup.
The Malaysian women went to New Zealand to play a few friendlies last month, and in the four matches against the NZ national team they lost 2- 0, 2-1, 2-0 and 4-0.
Considering NZ had beaten Australia, it can be concluded that the Malaysian women will give the Aussies a fight of their lives.
The national women meet Chile today, and if they can score five goals against the hosts, they will be on par with the Australians.
Japan qualified for the Argentina World Cup when they beat Azerbaijan in the Kazan Qualifier on Sunday. Japan are ranked No 8, while Azerbaijan No 14 in the World but the winning margin was only 1-0.
Hopefully, the Malaysian women take a leaf from their Asian sisters as well as Azerbaijan to return from Chile with at least a silver medal, if not the gold itself.

Reckoning weekend for double champs

NEXT weekend will be reckoning week for double cham pions Bukit Jalil Sports School in Division One of the MHF- Milo- NSC Junior Hockey League.
They play an erratic Petaling Jaya City Council on Friday as a warm-up to their crucial encounter against high-riding newcomers UniKL on Sunday.
In their five matches, UniKL has scored 28 goals and let in only five. The double champions, meanwhile have scored 15 and let in one in four matches.
The other contenders for the title this season, Bandar Penawar Sports School Thunderbolt have also been im pressive in their four matches by scoring 25 goals and letting in only three.
Thunderbolt have an easy encounter against Bukit Jalil Sports School Juniors on Friday, where they can be expected to score more than a handful and consolidate their position on the standings.
“The tournament has reached its crucial stage for us as we need to beat PJCC by a good margin, before playing the favourites this season, UniKL,” said BJSS coach S. Prakash.
BJSS have been improving with every match, while UniKL seems to wake up only in the second half in their last three matches.
“We need to play consistent hockey for 70 minutes to beat a team like UniKL and my boys, after a slow start, have regained their scoring touch.
“It will be a close battle, but I expect my players to come out tops so that we still have a fighting chance of winning the title when we play BPSS Thunderbolt on May 14,” said Prakash.
The good news for BJSS, if they beat UniKL, is that Thunderbolt will most likely lose their prolific 19-year-old striker Faizal Saari to the Azlan Shah Cup for the May 14 encounter and it would make their quest to lift the title that much easier, provided they do not stumble against new kids on the block UniKL.
FRIDAY: Division One -- Bukit Jalil Sports School Juniors v Bandar Penawar Sports School Thunderbolt (Kuala Lumpur HA, 5pm), Petaling Jaya City Council v Bukit Jalil Sports School (Tun Razak, 9pm).
Division Two: Pahang v Penang Frees (Kuantan, 5pm), Johor v Matri (Johor Baru, 5pm), Ipoh City Council v Sabah (Azlan Shah, 5pm).
SUNDAY: Division One -- Bukit Jalil Sports School v UniKL (Tun Razak, 8pm), Kelantan v Petaling Jaya City Council (Terengganu), Anderson v Bandar Penawar Sports School Juniors (Azlan Shah, 5pm).
Division Two: Datuk Taha v Ipoh City Council (Tampin, 5pm), Kuala Selangor v Pahang (Pandamaran, 3pm), Sabah v Tunku Besar Secondary School (Pandamaran, 5pm), Johor v Penang Frees (Johor Baru, 5pm).

Japan qualify for World Cup in Argentina

JAPAN beat Azerbaijan 1-0 in the final of BDO Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Kazan due to a last minute goal. Russia took the Bronze medal after a Golden Goal victory over Belarus. Italy finish 5th.
Japan v Azerbaijan 1-0 (0-0)
Both teams were very nervous at the beginning. Japan gradually gained control of the game but Azerbaijan had some dangerous counter-attacks through their defenders who were flicking the ball towards their strikers awaiting the ball in midfield. In the first half nobody had a great opportunity to score because both teams defended well. Marina Aliyeva turned up once in the Japanese circle but missed the ball. Japan gained one penalty corner which failed. Before halftime Japan attacked well but Mazuki Arai’s pass did not reach a team-mate.
Japan created two opportunities at the beginning of the second half. A penalty corner shot from Ai Murakami was saved by Azerbaijan goalie Viktoriya Shahbazova and soon after Kaori Chiba was close to scoring but missed the goal. Natsumi Tameto kept the Azerbaijan defenders busy by her dangerous moves in the circle. Meanwhile two short corners of Azerbaijan failed. In the 68th minute Kaori Chiba scored the game winning goal for Japan. She received a pass in the circle and smashed the ball into the goal with a backhand stroke.
1-0 68’ Kaori CHIBA (FG)

Final Standings
2. Azerbaijan
3. Russia
4. Belarus
5. Italy
6. Wales
Tournament Awards
Top Scorer
Player of the Tournament
Best Goalkeeper
Fair Play Trophy