Friday, July 20, 2018

Negri HA: Change date or we withdraw from Razak Cup

Pic: Competitions manager Brian Fernandez

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competitions committee is like a magnet for controversies, and this time, has riled the feathers of states, officials, umpires and players by organising the Razak Cup smack on Deepavali.
  In a short letter sent to their affiliates, competitions committee manager Brian Fernandez said the men's and women's Razak Cup will be held on Nov 3-11 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
  Deepavali is on Nov 6.
  And in a prompt reply to the competitions committee email, Negri Sembilan HA said they will withdraw from the Razak Cup if the dates are not changed.
  "The Negri HA has already sent an email to the MHC competitions committee stating that if the dates are not changed we will withdraw from the tournament.
  "It is not fair to hold it during the Deepavali period as I have players who celebrate the event. I am sure there are also many officials, umpires and players from other states who want to balik kampung during that period," said NSHA secretary P. Tamil Selvam.
  Negri have Malaysia's No 1 goalkeeper S. Kumar, former national player K. Keevan Raj and former national juniors G. Kavin Kartik in their Razak Cup squad this year.
  NSHA coaching chairman S. Chandran echoed his secretary's sentiments.
  "We have four players who celebrate Deepavali and they are the backbone of Negri. I am sure they will not want to play during that period so the MHC can hold it a week before or a week after the celebrations," said Chandran.
  Tamil Selvan also said he has heard from a member of the competitions committee that during their last meeting the Razak Cup date was not blocked.
  "So if the committee did not set the date, who is responsible for this gaffe?," questioned Tamil Selvam.
  Lasy year, the competitions committee only held one meeting and then they removed its eight members when their term expired in February and only appointed new members in June.  
  And all the new members had to sign a 'code of conduct' letter.
  "I can't say anything about the latest issue because I have signed a code of conduct document. Sufficient to say, we have been receiving brickbats after the dates were announced (Thursday)," said a member who can't even reveal his name because of the regimental rules.
  The committee has recommended to do away with Division One in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) next season, leaving about 10 clubs in jeopardy.
  The plan is to host only the Premier Division, and this has not gone down well with many states who run clubs as well.
   Phone calls and messages to Brian were not answered.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Malaysian men sure bets for Asian Games semis

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian men's hockey team are confirmed to play in the semi-finals of the Asian Games on Aug 19-Sept 1.
  For, they only have to 'fear' Pakistan in Group B while Bangladesh, Oman, Thailand and Indonesia should receive hammerings.
  Group A has three heavy-weights in India, South Korea and Japan.
  "Yes, the grouping is very kind to us as we need to beat Pakistan to top the group but having said that, we will not take the other teams lightly as Bangladesh and Oman play very hard and determined hockey.
  "And if we top the group, I believe we will avoid India in the semi-finals as they are the favourites of the tournament (ranked no 6 in the world)," said Malaysian coach Stephen van Huzien.
  China's absence has also made it easier for Malaysia: "China have qualified for the World Cup but are not in the Asian Games and it has also actually made our group much more 'easier' to play in," said van Huizen.
  In the women's events, Malaysia are in Group A and need to beat Japan and they can even afford to lose to China but make the semi-finals as their other opponents are Hong Kong and Taiwan -- who should be easyly beaten.
  The winners of the Men’s and Women’s categories will book their place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. All matches will be played at the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Sports Complex, Jakarta, Indonesia.
  China are conspicuously missing from the men's tournament, as their government had placed them on ice after they performed badly in a recent tour of Canada, a source in the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) confirmed.
  Interestingly, China men have qualified for their first even World Cup in India pn Nov 28 to Dec 16.
  China qualified for their first World Cup thanks to a super performance from Malaysia in the Asia Cup in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  China's spot was confirmed when Malaysia held South Korea to a 1-1 draw, a result which put the Malaysians into the final against India as well.
    This edition of the Games will be the first Asian Games to have Video Referral system for all matches on Pitch I, and that's why the men's and women's matches are being held on alternate days. 
  MEN -- Group A: India, South Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong; Group B: Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman, Thailand, Indonesia.
  WOMEN -- Group A: China, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan; Group B: South Korea, India, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Indonesia.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Kirandeep closing in on Asian Games dream

By Saiful Affendy Sapran

KUALA LUMPUR: Promising player Kirandeep Kaur is ready to fight for a slot in the Jakarta Asian Games, even though she konws it will not be easy.
  She will only turn 15 on July 22, but showed promise at the Hockey Series Open in Singapore earlier in the month, and even scored a goal in the final where Malaysia hammered Thailand 6-0.
  National women's coach K. Dharmaraj is willing to give her a break as he had said that he might include her in the Australia Tour starting on July 21.
  It will be the coaches' final selection for the Asian Games.
  "If I am selected for the Australian Tour it would be a dream come true because I will get closer to playing in the Asian Games.
  "But even if I am not selected this time, I will keep trying for future tournaments."
  Kirandeep said the experience of playing in Singapore was an eye-opener, even though she was nervous during the early matches.
  "I was nervous at the beginning and so could not score any goals until I settled down in the final match against Thailand. That goal really means much to me, and my hockey career."
  Dharmaraj had made an out-of-the-box selection when he named a 14-year-old for the Singapore tournament, but his gamble paid off and now, Kirandeep might even help Malaysia in the Asian Games.

Malaysia to host, but tougher route..

KUALA LUMPUR: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) Friday announced that Malaysia has won the bid to host the Hockey Series Finals at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on April 23-May 1.
  This opens another door for Malaysia to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but its a tougher route compared to winning the Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta.
  For, Malaysia must play in the final of the Hockey Series Final to qualify for the Olympic Qualification -- a stage that decides the last six or seven slots, depending on if Japan wins the Asian Games gold.
  "The Asian Games gold medal will remain our primary target as it's also a Podium Programme requirement and we have been planning for it for a long time.
  "But still, hosting the Hockey Series Finals opens another 'in case' door for us and hosting it has many benefits," said Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen.
  The FIH wrote: "Hockey Series Finals marks the return of FIH competition to the passionate hockey nation for the first time since the Men’s Champions Challenge in 2014.
  "With vast experience in hosting major international events at some of the world’s best hockey stadiums, including the annual Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and Sultan of Johor Cup, the Malaysian Hockey Confederation know how to deliver successful global events."
  van Huizens said: "Playing at Bukit Jalil will give us an added confidence, as well as not having to worry about food and weather accalimatation."
  At the Asian Games, Malaysia's chances all depend on the grouping, which the Asian Hockey Federation have yet to release.
  In the men's tournament, the qualifiers are hosts Indonesia, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Malaysia, China, Japan, Oman, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Taiwan.
  There are only 10 teams in the women's event and they are hosts Indonesia, South Korea, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Kazakhstan.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Van Huizen: Najmi no longer interested to play


Najmi has already sent a letter to the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) stating that he no longer wants to play for the country.
  Coach Stephen van Huizen confirmed it:
  "After the Argentina Tour, he injured his ankle slightly but that is not the reason why he quit the team.
  "Najmi just does not want to play for the country after he got married and even though we tried to talk to him he did not want to change his mind.
  "The matter has been discussed with the MHC as well as technical director Terry Walsh and it was agreed that if he is no longer interested we can't do anything.
  "We did ask him if it was temporary or for good, but he did not want to commit himself.
  "Luckily it happened about 40 days before the Games, and we have time to train a replacement," said van Huizen.

The Yes and No of helping women...

KUALA LUMPUR: The national women's hockey team will receive specific help from foreign coaches in preparations for the Asian Games in Jakarta in August.
  Australian David Ian Bell will coach on 'tackling' while Martijn Drijver of the Netherlands will train goalkeepers for a week.
  And while national coach K. Dharmaraj said it would benefit his charges, Olympian and former Malaysian Hockey Confederation general manager Maninderjit Singh believes there are Malaysian's who can do the job just as well.
  "My players do lack in the field of tackling (stopping a player from dribbling past) and it would be helpful in our campaign at the Asian Games when we play higher ranked teams like India, South Korea, Japan and China (depending on grouping).
  "I have tried my best and even though they have improved in this department since I took over 30 months ago, having a new prespective from a different coach and approach is always welcome in my books," said Dharmaraj whose charges won the Hockey Series Open in Singapore by hammering Thailand 6-0.
  And on the world renowned goalkeepers coach from Netherlands: "He has been here many times and coached out national men as well as women's goalkeepers and is here again to help in our Asian Games campaign.
  "Some areas need a specific touch from the experts in that field, and we are lucky to get such help," said Dharmaraj.
  However, Maninderjit Singh begs to differ.
  "The main weaknesses in the men and women's team is in defence and bringing in David Bell as a consultant in that department is not conducive, because his training methods are old and not suitable with Malaysia's playing style.
  "It is a waste of time and money as we do have better local coaches and they should have been utilised instead," said Maninderjit.
  Malaysia's chances at the Games all depend on the grouping, which the Asian Hockey Federation have yet to release.
  In the men's tournament, the qualifiers are hosts Indonesia, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Malaysia, China, Japan, Oman, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Taiwan.
  There are only 10 teams in the women's event and they are hosts Indonesia, South Korea, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Kazakhstan.

Najmi's disappearance a mystery for mates...

Najmi Jazlan of Malaysia is chased by Mazhar Abbas of Pakistan during the Men's Hockey match between Malaysia and Pakistan on day seven of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast Hockey Centre on April 11, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia.
(April 10, 2018 - Source: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images AsiaPac) 

By Saiful Affendy Sapran

KUALA LUMPUR: The disappearance of national defender Najmi Jazlan is not only a mystery to his fans, but it also left his team-mates with more questions than answers.
   It was made to understand that Najmi only communicated with coach Stephen van Huzien, while even his best mates in the team were not privy to the disappearance.
  National skipper Shukri Mutalib said he believes Najmi has already sent a letter to the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) stating that he no longer wants to play for the country.
  He last played in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and was also on the Argentina Tour for six Test matches in May.
  "As a team-mate I am disappointed with his decision to quit the sport becasue we are in the midst of preparing for the Asian Games in Jakarta.
  "And he is one of the main players in our team.
  "But then, if he really is no longer interested to play for the country, I will respect his decision," said Shukri.
  The skipper said he himself could not get in touch with Najmi after the Hari Raya break.
  "I really don't know what's the real reason behind his action. Not only I, but all the other players are also puzzled as they can't contact him anymore," said Shukri.
  The players are in their final phase of training for the Asian Games in August, with a mission to win gold and qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
  Coach van Huizen could not be contacted for comments.

Kirandeep might head Down Under

By Saiful Affendy Sapran

KUALA LUMPUR: National women's hockey coach K. Dharmaraj did not discount the inclusion of 14-year-old Kirandeep Kaur for the Australian Tour starting on July 21 as their final preparation for the Asian Games in Jakarta.
  Dharma said budding players like Kirandeep would inject competition in the team, and send out a warning that 'no player can take their place for granted' in the national team.
  The coach had fielded her in every match at the recent Hockey Series Open in Singapore, and she scored her maiden international goal in the final to help Malaysia beat Thailand 6-0.
  "I do not want any players to feel comfortable with their spot in the national team.
  "That is why I have added healthy competition by fielding Kirandeep and other young players in the squad. The message here is that players must continuously give their best in every match to keep their spot in the team. And so, the door is open for Kirandeep to be selected for the Queensland friendlies," said Dharmaraj.
  And the Tour would be the final platform for Dharmaraj to select 18 players for the Asian Games in August, and this chance can also be snatched by Kirandeep.
  The other youth who impressed in Singapore are 17-year-olds Nuramirah Zulkifli and Nurmaizatulhanim Syafi. 
  "Of course I will only select the best for the Asian Games after the Australian Tour, and all those who will be playing in the Queensland 
friendlies have a fair chance of making it to Jakarta," said Dharmaraj.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

AHF waiting for Indonesia..

KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) are still waiting for Indonesia to confirm the number of entries in the men's and women's tournaments before they can release groupings.
  With 40 days to the start on Aug 18, the organisers have yet to confirm entries for hockey: "We are waiting for the organising committee to confirm the number of entries, and only after that can we sort out the groupings as well as the fixtures for men's and women's hockey," said AHF CEO Datuk Tayyab Ikram of Macau (pic).
  Malaysia's chances at the Games all depend on the grouping, and going by current ranking, coach Stephen van Huizen's men can expect to play against Pakistan and China and could miss meeting South Korea and India at the group stage.
  And if this happens, Malaysia's chances of making the semi-finals look bright.
  In the men's tournament, the qualifiers are hosts Indonesia, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Malaysia, China, Japan, Oman, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Taiwan.
  And there are only 10 teams in the women's event and they are hosts Indonesia, South Korea, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Kazakhstan.
  "The Games will showcase the best of Asian hockey because at stake is a ticket to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo," said Tayyab.
  Only the men's and women's gold medallists advance to Olympics, while the rest will play in another qualifier.
  "For teams which do not qualify for the Olympics, the Games will be a very good avenue to prepare for the Asian Champions Trophy (In Muscat, on Oct 18-28) and also the World Cup in India," said Tayyab.
  Malaysia India, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan and Oman will play in the ACT, while the Asian World Cup qualifiers are India, Malaysia, Pakistan and China.
  "At the recent Champions Trophy, silver medallists India and Pakistan played very well and I believe Asian teams are making a strong comeback against higher ranked teams.
 "And I hope the second tier of Asia will also use the Asian Games to improve and popularise the sport in their respective countries, expecially hosts Indonesia," said the Asian CEO.

Monday, July 2, 2018

IGP CUP: Briged Tenggara in semis

Briged Tenggara made a late comeback to defeat Negri Sembilan 4-1 and qualify for the Division One semi-finals from Group B in the IGP Cup Hockey Tournament at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan Monday.
   Both teams were tied on six points – three behind Terengganu before start of the game. It was a deciding match which eventually saw the much fitter Briged Tenggara capitalising on the many penalty corners.
Muhd Subri Abdul Rahman fired Negeri Sembilan ahead with a 34th minute penalty corner conversion but it was Briged Tenggara who went on to steal the show with goals from Mohd Riduan Zakaria (48th), Mohd Naim Ibrahim (55th), Wan Mohd Nazri Wan Abdullah (56th) and Muhamad Azrullah Azman (60th).
In tomorrow’s semi-finals, Briged Tenggara will meet Sabah while Terengganu, who coasted to a 2-1 win over Melaka in penalties after a 3-3 draw in regulation time, will play Briged Utara.
“I am delightred with the fighting spirit shown by the players. It was going to be a tough game from the beginnng as both teams are in the running for a semifinals berth,” said Briged Tenggara manager, Lance Corporal Jeremy Aloysious Maing.
Terengganu emerged Group B champions with 11 points followed by Briged Tenggara nine points, Negeri Sembilan (6), Melaka (4) and Perlis (0).
Suher Romzie scored for Melaka in the fourh minute  before Terengganu went to 2-1 ahead with goals from Muhamad Ashraf Abdul Halim (20th) and Mohd Syukry Ali (28th).
A rejuvenated Melaka then equalised through Mohd Faizal (43rd) and Mohd Hanif Aziman steered his side to a 3-2 lead with a field goal in the 45th minute. Terengganu avoided defeat with a 59th minute field goal via Azrul Hisham Zahari to level 3-3, pushing the match into penalties.
“Since we have already qualfied for the semi-finals much earlier I gave the reserves an opportuniy to play. It was a good game and I am happy with our performance,” said Terengganu team manager, Mohd Zailani Arifin.
Results – Group A: Kedah 1 Kelantan 0; Sabah 0 Briged Utara 0 (Sabah win 2-1 in penalties).
Group B: Briged Tenggara 4 Negeri Sembilan 1; Terengganu 3 Melaka 3 (Terengganu win 2-1 in penalties).  
                                P   W    D     L     F    A    Pts
SABAH                   3     3     0     0    5    1      8
BRIGED UTARA    3     1      0    2     4     3     5
KEDAH                   3     2     0     1     3    3      5
KELANTAN            3     0     0     3     2     7      0
                                       P    W    D    L     F      A   PTS
TERENGGANU             4     4     0    0    11     6     11
BRIGED TENGGARA    4     3     0    1    9       6      9
N. SEMBILAN               4     2     0    2    4       8      6
MELAKA                        4     1    0     3    6       9      4
PERLIS                           4     0     0    4    4        9      0

Good win, but difficult to progress on this path..

OLYMPIAN MANINDERJIT SINGH: MHC need to plan to qualify for women's Junior World Cup first...

The Malaysian women's team at Bukit jalil after arriving by bus from Singapore.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian women's coach K. Dharmaraj took a big gamble by fielding young players in the recent Hockey Series Open at the Seng Kang Stadium, but returned home yesterday smelling like roses.
  Very few coaches in the world would gamble with a 14-year-old; and two 17-year-olds, and Dharmaraj is among this elite few.
  Malaysia not only won gold, but also went on a scoring spree in all six matches, including the 6-0 hammering of Thailand where the youngest player in the squad Kirandeep Kaur scored her first goal of the tournament.
  "A day before the final I told Kirandeep that even though she has yet to find her touch after five matches, she should not be too stressed out and just be her normal self and she delivered," said Dharmaraj who led his team to silver in the World League Round Two in Kuala Lumpur last year.
  Admitting that this tournament did not challenge his players, Dharmaraj said it was still a morale booster ahead of the Asian Games in Jakarta.
  "We scored 51 goals in six matches, but missed just as many. This is what we need to improve upon as in the Asian Games we will be playing against higher ranked teams and will not get as many chances in a match.
  "However, its a good boost even though my defence was never placed under pressure, we got to test our attack and penalty corners.
  "We will rest for a week, after which its back to training and then head to Queensland (Australia) at the end of the month to play some friendlies there," said Dharmaraj.
  Former international Maninderjit Singh, who played in Malaysia's last Olympic appearance in Sydney 2000, said it's difficult to progress by playing weaker sides most of the times.
  "The women's team has shown regional progress and did realise their No 1 ranking in Singapore by winning gold.
  "But I know for a fact that it will be very difficult for them in the Asian Games because their opponents are right now playing in Europe against tougher sides while we are travelling on a weaker path.
  "India, China and Japan women played or are playing in Europe right now, and they will be better prepared for the Asian Games where MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) are hoping for a semi-finals appearance.
  "I believe Malaysia need to have a better plan in future and not just look towards playing club sides in Australia to improve.
  "And for the women to climb onto the world stage, like the Asian Games medal or a World Cup appearance, MHC must first plan to qualify for the Junior World Cup.
  "Our women have yet to play in the Junior World Cup, and its too much to ask for, from these seniors, to break more glass ceilings if  Malaysia can't even qualify for the junior tournament," said Maninderjit Singh.

IGP CUP: Day of the underdogs?

The underdogs will be out to throw everything  in their disposal to redeem their pride in the Premier and Division One category in the IGP Cup Hockey Tournament that moves into its final lap of the preliminary round stage on Monday.
While Bukit Aman have a steady flow of former internationals in their stable,  the Premier Division Group A matches between Perak-Johor and Bukit Aman-Briged Tengah are expected to draw interest.
At stake is pride and semi-finals berths which Perak and Briged Tengah may not want to miss out on an opportunity after underperforming in their opening matches.
Briged Tengah have three points to show and Perak two.. Both teams played to a 1-1 draw today but Perak won 1-0 on penalties.
The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Group B encounter is also expected to go to the wire. Both teams boast of experience and skillful players but the level of fitness will determine who wins the battle for a place in the semi-final.
As Kuala Lumpur team manager, DSP Jaswent Singh, observed: “There is virtually enough experience in both teams but we need to perform better to stay in the game. Fitness level is important.”
“The stakes are high and KL will need to get back on track. The 9-1 victory over Pahang was a good morale booster and we hope to play a much better game against Selangor,” he added.
Pulapol KL may not step on the accelerator against Pahang who suffered 7-2 and 9-1 defeats against Selangor and Kuala Lumpur respectively but it will be a big mistake should that happen as lurking closely behind are two teams in the form of Selangor and KL who aim to finish top of the group.
In Division One, the battle is still an open affair though Terengganu seems to have qualified much earlier from Group B with nine points from three consecutive wins. However, Briged Tenggara (6 points), Negeri Sembilan (6 points) and Melaka (3 points) are still in the running for semi-finals spot.
In Group A, Sabah are through to the last four while Kedah and Briged Utara will battle for the remaining berth.


Kuantan (1 July 2018): Former international Kevinder Singh scored six goals as Kuala Lumpur thumped Pahang 9-1 to keep their hopes alive of a semi-finals berth in the Premier Division of the IGP Cup Hockey Tornament at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium today.
The city cops, who suffered an ignominous 5-1 defeat against Pulapol KL, one of the top contender for the title, returned to form today in this Group B match to notch their win.
Kuala Lumpur, champions in 2014 and finished fourth in 2016, face Selangor in their last preliminary round group match tomorrow (July 2).  Both teams are tied on three points after two matches.
Kevinder, who last represented the national team in 2012, scored in the 7th, 12th, 22nd, 39th, 43rd and 58th minutes whilst Azlizam Ahmad Zaman (35th), Faharul Nazrey Harun (40th) and Muhammad Faiz Zuri (60th) scored apiece. Pahang replied through Reffey Ukim in the 26th minute via a field goal.
“We played a much better game today than against Pulapol on Saturday,” said Kuala Lumpur team manager DSP Jaswent Singh. “Now we need to defeat Selangor to qualify for the semi-finals. They are a good side too.”
For Pahang, it was their second big defeat in the tournament after going down 7-2 against Selangor.
Pulapol KL crushed Selangor’s hopes by carving a 3-1 victory to go top of Group B with six points.
Team captain Baljit Singh, a former international, scored a brace (29th and 39th minutes) through penalty corner conversions and Azrul Shah Ramli added one. Selangor’s solitary goal came from Hendryvon Mejerry of a penalty corner conversion in the 28th minut.
In the rain-interrupted Group A matches, defending champion Bukit Aman defeated Johor 5-1 to register their second win while Perak edged Briged Tengah 1-0 in penalties after posting a 1-1 draw in regulation time.
With six points in the bag, Bukit Aman are virtually through to the semi-finals. In Monday’s last Group A preliminary round matches, Bukit Aman goes up against Briged Tengah whilst Perak plays Johor.
Results – Group A: Perak 1 Briged Tengah 1 (Perak win 1-0 in penalties; Bukit Aman 5 Johor 1; Group B: Kuala Lumpur 9 Pahang 1; Pulapol KL 3 Selangor 1.
                                          P   W    D     L     F       A   Pts
BUKIT AMAN                  2    2      0    0     10    2     6
BRIGED TENGAH          2     1      0     1    2      2     3
PERAK                            2     1      0     1    2      6     2
JOHOR                            2     0      0     2    2       6     1

                                         P   W    D    L     F    A    Pts
PULAPOL KL                   2    2     0    0     8     2      6  
SELANGOR                     2    1     0    1     8     5       3
KUALA LUMPUR           2     1     0    1   10    6       3
PAHANG                         2     0     0     2    3     16    0

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Kirandeep's first international goal .. only 14


KUALA LUMPUR: As expected, the Malaysian women beat Thailand 6-0 to win gold in the Hockey Series Open at the Seng Kang Stadium yesterday.
  But the unexpected was -- 14-year-old Kirandeep Kaur scored her first goal of the tournament with a well placed shot in the 30th minute.
  Kirandeep, who played in every match here in her maiden tournament with the senior side, was given this golden opportunity by coach K. Dharmaraj and she did not disappoint.
  However, the irony is that Kirandeep was not good enough for Kuala Lumpur coach A. Kannagi, who dropped her from the National Under-16 earlier this year.
  But Dharmaraj saw differently, and the budding youngster who did not even play with the juniors before, was drafted to play for the seniors.
  The other goals were scored by Fatin Shafika Shukri (second, fifth), Surizan Awang Noh (eighth), Nuraini Rashid (51st) and Nur Amirah Shakirah (56th).
  Team manager Lailin Abu Hassan, a former international himself said: "We beat Thailand 4-0 in the pool and scored two extra goals against them in the final to indicate progress among the players.
  "And we also gave more time to the youngsters to play in the final, and this paid off when Kirandeep scored her first international goal.
  "With time and more matches she became confident and scored in the final. In the long run, blooding youth will benefit the country."
  Dharmaraj fielded two 17-year-olds and one 14-year-old in the Open.
  Nuramirah Zulkifli (Amira) has 16 caps, Nurmaizatulhanim Syafi 17 caps, and Kirandeep Kaur played in all five pool matches as well as the final to earn her maiden caps.