Sunday, April 29, 2012

Malacca ready for Junior Asia Cup

MALACCA are primed to host their first international  hockey tournament, as their stadium received an RM1  million face-lift, while the opening ceremony will be a first of  its kind.
    The Junior Asia Cup, which also doubles up as a World Cup  Qualifier, will be held on May 3-13 with players and officials  ferried by boats along the Malacca River to the venue of the  Opening ceremony.
    “We are proud to play host to the tournament and have  worked hard to ensure that all preparations are of in ternational standards,” said Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad, deputy  president of Malacca HA and senior vice president of the  Malaysian Hockey Confederation.
    “It is a honour for Malacca to play hosts as this is the first  time we are given the opportunity to host a top class  tournament and that is why we want the opening ceremony to  be a first of its kind.
    “And another pride is that Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj,  manager Mirnawan Nawawi and assistant coach Nor Azlan  Bakar are all from Malacca as well,” said Nur Azmi.
     Eight teams will battle for two slots to the World Cup, with  India claiming the third as hosts next year in New Delhi.
     The eight are -- Malaysia, South Korea, Iran and Japan in  Group A, while in Group B are India, Pakistan, China and Sri  Lanka.
    The MBM Hockey Stadium has undergone renovations that  cost more then RM1 million and the after effects are there for  all to admire.
    The grandstand has been upgraded with dedicated media  and broadcast rooms and seats fitted as well on the terraces.  Even the changing rooms have been done up, truly reflecting  a world class venue.
    And that is not all, as the lighting system has been  upgraded, enough for telecasting matches in high def inition.
     And fans are also in for a treat, as host broadcaster Astro  Arena are planning to telecast all Malaysian matches live.
     As for Pakistan, among the favourites to claim a slot in the  final, seasoned forward Umar Bhutta will lead them.
     Skipper Umar Bhutta is a regular with the Pakistan senior  team in several international events, along with Kashif Shah,  Ali Shan, Tousiq Ahmed and Muhammad Rizwan.
    “This is an important event for us and we are looking to  book a berth in next year’s Junior World Cup,” said team  manager cum coach Rana Mujahid.
     “We have a strong combination in presence of five senior  players and we are hoping to see boys performing well to  reach the final,” he said.
     Pakistan squad: Mazhar Abbas, Amjad Ali (goalkeepers)  Muhammad Khalid Bhatti, Syed Kashif Shah (full-backs), M.  Rizwan Jr, Kashif Javed, Muhammad Tousiq, M.Faisal Qadir,  Tawasar Abbas, Zohaib Ashraf, Ammad Shakeel Butt (half- backs), Muhammad Irfan, Ali Shan, Muhammad Dilbar,  Muhammad Umar Bhutta, Muhammad Suleman, Hafiz Umar  Sardar, Hafiz Rizwan, Muhammad Umar, Muhammad Jaffar  (forwards).