Sunday, November 18, 2007

Junior fall after taking lead


THE National juniors have started playing like the seniors as they had
Pakistan under wraps before losing 5-2 in the opening match of the FIH
Youth Carnival in Poznan, Poland on Monday.
Megat Azrafiq scored off a penalty corner in the 11th minute, but
Pakistan equalised in the 18th minute and just before the break, made it
But in the second half, even though Malaysia narrowed the gap to 3-2 off
a Tengku Tajuddin field goal, Pakistan romped home 5-2, with their final
goal coming off a penalty stroke.
This was the sketchy story patched up from bits and pieces the Malaysian
Hockey Federation could make out from the fax sent to them by team manager
Poon Fook Loke.
Attempts to contact coach Sarjit Singh and Fook Loke in Poland were
futile as they had moved from their designated hotel.
"It is very difficult to contact the team in Poland as they had moved
hotel for reasons only known to them. I tried to contact the FIH for the
full results, but the parent body was also unable to help," said Satgunam.
Malaysia, the defending champions, meet France in their next match.

Kumaresan inducted


CYCLIST M. Kumaresan and hurdler Nur Herman Majid were yesterday inducted
into the SportExcel Hall of Fame at the Royal Selangor Club in Kuala
Last year, squash darling Nicol David, Ong Beng Hee and Shalin Zulkifli
were recognised for their efforts.
This year Kumaresan (cycling) and Nur Herman (athletics), two athletes
who are no longer active, are being recognised. "The SportExcel Hall of
Fame is restricted to those athletes who have been in receipt of
SportExcel funding and who have consistently achieved excellence at Asian
or World level while being good role models," said SportExcel president
Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar after welcoming the duo to the Hall of Fame.
"SportExcel is by any yardstick, a young organisation, but we have been
able to maintain a high profile in Malaysian sport through our junior
circuits and other activities.
"At the same time, we have also remained totally relevant to Malaysian
sport by carving a niche in the area of junior development. To date,
thousands of young juniors have benefited by competing on our circuits.
"As at the end of 2002, SportExcel had provided assistance to 82
athletes, some of whom had achieved excellence at the Asian and world
"Cricketer Arul Suppiah and Beng Hee are well on their way to achieving
their dream of becoming professionals in their field," said Tunku Imran.
Tunku Imran said SportExcel is proud to be able to play a part nurturing
Malaysian juniors: "It is truly our joy and vision to assist every
talented junior to realise his or her dream."
SportExcel is now looking towards Sabah and Sarawak.
"We will re-think our strategies, as one of our goals is to play a
bigger part in the development of juniors in Sabah and Sarawak. This will
be done with the co-operation of national associations and in respect of
our circuits.
"We believe that there is a huge reservoir of junior talent in Sabah and
Sarawak that has not been systematically tapped," concluded Tunku Imran.
Kumaresan, a household name in cycling, started his quest to represent
Malaysia at the age of 10, and received the country's highest sports award
when voted Sportsman of The Year in 1987.
"Some might say that at 10, one does not have an ambition yet. But for
me, I had a burning desire to represent the country from that age, and
tried my hand at numerous sports.
"But in the end, I found my niche in cycling and it has given me great
joy over the years by winning medals for the country," said Kumaresan.
The veteran cyclist has a collection of 19 medals, with nine golds from
the Sea Games and three silvers and one bronze from the Asian meet.
Nur Herman, synonymous with 110m hurdles, ruled the lanes from 1990 to
2001. He was the undisputed champion in six consecutive Sea Games starting
from 1991 in Manila till his farewell in the 2001 Kuala Lumpur Sea Games.
He not only won gold in KL, but silenced his critics by clocking 14.02s,
a Sea Games record. His personal best of 13.73s, which won him bronze in
the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games, is still the current national record.

Investigate Randburg, MHF


THE spirit of protectionism in its core and original form, must have been
built on honest intentions and honourable values. Then, man evolved
further, and since then, given it a whole new perspective that now
balances precariously between safety and conspiracy.
The lines have been so blurred in this new context of protectionism that
it has become virtually impossible to tell if you are really helping or
conspiring against the one you profess to protect. Is it a cover that you
are providing, or a cover-up?
When master tacticians throw the proverbial bureaucratic cloak over
something that could be incriminating, it's not a cover-up. That's
strategic planning. For, by protecting the offender from prostration, they
have secured the exponent's silence and undivided loyalty.
If he is a formidable opponent, there would be neither cover nor a
cover-up. Which, if you come to think of it, also works out just fine for
the unsuspecting victims - namely you and me.
If he is a crony, the cover-up is normally dictated by, for want of a
better word in this context, honourable intentions. Like they say, the
path to hell is sometimes paved with good intentions.
But in this context though, honesty would normally prevail - as we have
seen so often - only after a cover is blown or when the damage has become
too colossal to cloak.
Which brings us to the raging forum in websites, expounding the alleged
sex scandal of two hockey players in South Africa recently during the
Champions Challenge where the national team took the nation deeper into
the abyss of oblivion.
For the record Malaysia, who started as favourites, finished last in
this tournament.
The call from readers and the sport's followers, is for an inquiry, a
thorough investigation to ascertain the credibility of the allegations,
and expose the offenders.
Just as alarming are suggestions that the Malaysian sportswriters who
were in Randburg to cover the tournament, were part of a conspiracy to
cover up the scandal.
Timesport's hockey writer Jugjet Singh, who had stayed in a different
hotel from the national team, explains that though he had heard about it,
wasn't able to chronicle it as he was neither a witness to the alleged
scandal, nor was he able to affirm it with an official statement.
All Jugjet was witness to was that, the two ladies in question were
vacationing Malaysian stewardesses who were friends of the two players,
stayed in the same hotel as the Malaysian sportswriters, and supported the
team in matches.
Team manager, Zulkifli Abbas - a former national goalkeeper - whom I
spoke to yesterday, said he is submitting a thorough report to the
Malaysian Hockey Federation and is leaving the question of an inquiry to
the discretion of the national body.
"And if they (MHF) find there is a cover-up, that is if they decide to
investigate further, I will be the first to resign," he assured.
But given the attention this bit of disturbing news has received from
the fraternity here and internationally, it would be judicious for the MHF
to conduct an inquiry with the genuine interest of getting to the truth -
whatever it may be - of this alleged scandal.
And may I suggest that this inquiry be conducted by an independent unit
that's neither subservient nor beholden to all the parties concerned, and
one that's hand-picked by the Sports Commissioner, Datuk Mahamad Zabri
We can't leave this to the MHF simply because they won't be absolved
from cries of a cover-up, even if they genuinely find after thorough
investigations, that the allegations were unfounded.
And the Sports Ministry - as much as its minister Datuk Hishammuddin
Hussein might want to declare it an internal affair - has to be involved
as the credibility of the sport's athletes, and its management have been
publicly challenged.
For, the last thing that anyone wants here is for faceless website
contributors, and ardent hockey followers - as genuine as they may be - to
act as judge, jury and executioner, without according the reluctant
`defendants' their constitutional right of a proper `trial'
And if there indeed was a cover-up at Randburg, then Zulkifli should
honour his word by being "the first to resign" and the offenders expelled
from the national team.
As for the local sports media, I believe we are still very much in the
business of covering issues and events, and not involved in the politics
of cover-ups.

League format now


EGYPT and Polish Division One Champions Gneizno have pulled out of the FIH
Youth Carnival starting in Poland today, so now there will be no final and
the League champions will lift the title.
The FIH gave no reasons for the withdrawals.
Malaysia, the inaugural champions last year, will now open their
campaign against Pakistan and the prospect of landing the title again
looks much brighter.
In the earlier fixtures, Malaysia were slated to play Germany first and
were drawn in Group A which also had Pakistan and Gneizno.
But with the League system, Malaysia stand a good chance as the
Malaysian Hockey Federation Selection Committee has injected five
experienced hands to defend the gold medal.
The inclusion of Azli Misron, P. Prabahkaran, Megat Azrafiq, Ismail Abu
and Jivan Mohan added extra bite to the team.
Teams: France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland.
Fixtures: Today- India v France, Malaysia v Pakistan, Germany v Poland;
Aug 20: France v Malaysia, Germany v India, Poland v Pakistan; Aug 21:
Malaysia v India, France v Poland, Germany v Pakistan; Aug 23: Malaysia v
Germany, Pakistan v France, India v Poland; Aug 24: Germany v France,
Poland v Malaysia, India v Pakistan.

Nasihin returns from the dead


THE national hockey team, in dire need of a good goalkeeper, had their
prayers answered as former international Nasihin Nubli (pic) has shown
interest in making a comeback.
Nasihin, who quit after the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup, is still among
the better goalkeepers in the country as he has kept himself in the
picture by playing for Sapura in the Malaysia Hockey League.
Assistant national coach Arul Selvaraj, who still does not have a clue
on the status of Nasihin, however, said the goalkeeper has started
training with the national side.
"Nasihin's issue is for the Malaysian Hockey Federation to ponder upon.
I have heard that he was told to write in to the MHF on his intention to
rejoin the national team, but have not seen anything in black and white.
"However, he has started training on his own, while Roslan (Jamaluddin)
and (S.) Kumar are in the national team programme," said Arul.
The red tape is expected to be sorted out before chief coach Paul Lissek
returns from the Champions Trophy where he has gone to watch Malaysia's
opponents in the Asia Cup - India and Pakistan - in action.
Lissek will also give a talk during a coaching course held in
conjunction with the Champions Trophy.
The national team had everything going for them in the Champions
Challenge in South Africa, but were relegated to the last spot when both
Roslan and Kumar made schoolboy mistakes and conceded goals from acute
Meanwhile, the national juniors left for Poland on Friday to defend
their FIH World Youth Festival trophy not having a clue about which team
has withdrawn from the tournament.
MHF secretary S. Satgunam said he received a call from the FIH saying
that one team has withdrawn, making it a seven-team tournament, but was
still waiting for the FIH E-mail to confirm the withdrawal and the new
When Malaysia left for Poland, they were drawn in Group A with Germany,
Pakistan and the Polish Division One champions. In Group B are India,
France, Poland and Egypt.

Nor Saiful to realise dream in Holland


NOR Saiful Zaini left for Holland yesterday to realise his dream of
becoming a full-fledged coach, but he did not go under the Malaysian
Hockey Federation's (MHF) banner.
Instead, his trip to Amstelveen, Holland, the venue of the Champions
Trophy, was sponsored by his employers Tenaga Nasional Bhd.
The former national skipper underwent his first FIH coaching course in
Kuala Lumpur during the 2002 World Cup and then at the end of the year, he
attended another course in Perth during the Women's World Cup.
He passed with flying colours and the FIH offered him a ticket to attend
the Final course which will make him only the fourth person in Malaysia to
have an FIH Coaching Certificate.
The others are Stephen van Huizen, Wallace Tan and Collin Sta Maria but
all three have been left out of the national circle at the moment.
The former international was offered a place during the first MHF
attachment stint, where Sarjit Singh, Arul Selvaraj and Tai Beng Hai
graduated, but he declined because of work commitment. But he was not
considered for the second attachment stint involving six more coaches.
Nor Saiful, after completing his FIH course in Amstelveen, is looking to
handle an under-12 team.
"I am not looking to handle the big boys, all I want is to conduct
development work because most of the players lack basics. I can help by
setting the youth on the correct path, and then it will become easier to
teach them the technical side of matters when they graduate into the
senior ranks," said Nor Saiful before heading for Holland.
Nor Saiful, who plays for Tenaga Nasional in the Malaysia Hockey League,
still has the most powerful hit in the country and he was among the most
technically sound player that came out of the middle of 80s era.
Nor Saiful has the credit of featuring in all the major internationals
like the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics, and the Utretch World Cup as well
as the only time when Malaysia played in the Champions Trophy.
"I have gone the full circle, have played at every level and now this is
one way that I can contribute to the sport which I love most," said Nor
And up till today, other than K. Gobinathan who is still trying his
best, no other Malaysian has been as accurate as Nor Saiful during penalty
corner hits.
So, the MHF must not leave him out of the picture after he completes his
coaching course because then, the number of FIH qualified coaches in
Malaysia will increase to four, but the number involved with the national
team will be zero.

Bazli out of Poznan squad


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation Selection Committee ignored an outstanding
goalkeeper and instead decided to blood a 16-year-old striker in the
Under-21 FIH Youth Carnival in Poznan, Poland on Aug 18-24.
Malaysia, the defending champions, will not have goalkeeper Ahmad Bazli,
who was voted goalkeeper-of-the-tournament in the Youth Carnival last
The newcomer is Mohamed Razie Rahim, who last turned out for Malaysia
Sports School in the Junior Hockey League.
"We did not select Bazli because his form has dropped tremendously and
the other two goalkeepers Firdaus Razali and Hanafi Hassan have overtaken
"We have also decided to blood 16-year-old Razie because he is fast
becoming an asset up front," said team manager Poon Fook Loke after the
Selection Committee meeting yesterday.
Two `problem' players also received a lifeline yesterday. S. Selvaraju,
who was benched from the Malaysia Sports School side when he received a
red card for throwing his stick at the technical desk during last year's
Junior Hockey League, and Megat Azrafiq, whose knee injury forced him out
of the Champions Challenge, were among the relieved faces when the names
were announced by MHF deputy president Tan Sri P. Alagendra.
"I am very grateful because the MHF have given me a chance to play in
Poland. I have always given my best, but thought my hockey career was over
after the silly outburst during the JHL. Now I will be out to justify my
selection," said Selvaraju.
"We have retained eight players from the gold medal-winning side from
last year and since the tournament has been upgraded from under-18 to
under-21, we have also included five players who have experience in the
senior side," said Alagendra.
And the MHF, who had a tough time selecting the team because very little
separated the 30 players in training, will make sure they do not lose
those who were dropped yesterday.
"The 12 players not selected today (yesterday) will report for training
on Aug 28 where a fitness test will be conducted to see if they have been
following the programme. And since this are the players who will, more or
less, represent the country in the 2005 Junior World Cup, we want to keep
them on their toes," added Alagendra.
About 50 per cent of the current batch will not be eligible to play in
the 2005 Junior World Cup, but all of them will be able to contribute in
the World Cup Qualifiers in Karachi next year.
In Poland, Malaysia have been placed in Group A with Germany, Pakistan
and Polish league champions Gniezno.
India look set to dominate Group B as their opponents are Egypt, France
and Poland.
The squad - Goalkeepers: Mohamed Firdaus Razali, Hanafi Hassan
Defenders: Engku Abdul Malek (capt), S. Bubalan, Sallehin Ghani, Megat
Azrafiq Termizi, Mohamed Sufian
Midfield: Mohamed Fakhrulrazi, Jivan Mohan, P. Prabahkaran, Azli Misron,
Razi Ismail
Forwards: Kelvinder Singh, Shahrun Nabil, S. Selvaraju, Tengku Ahmad
Tajuddin, Ismail Abu, Razie Rahim.

High rental force MHF out


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation will be moving out of the National Hockey
Stadium in Bukit Jalil soon because they can no longer afford to pay the
No, the MHF has not gone broke, but they feel that the RM2,000 per month
rent is too steep and with money slow to reach their coffers from
sponsors, they felt moving out is the best solution.
MHF has also moved the final of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) from
Bukit Jalil to the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium for the same reason.
"We can no longer afford to pay RM2,000 per month for the office space
at the National Hockey Stadium. And since the National Sports Council has
told us to maximise the use of the Tun Razak Stadium, we will be moving
there once renovation work is completed.
"We have also decided to shift the final of the MHL to the Kuala Lumpur
HA Stadium because it is too expansive to host it at Bukit Jalil. The KLHA
Stadium is very much cheaper than the RM2,000 we will need to host it at
Bukit Jalil," said MHF secretary S. Satgunam yesterday.
Satgunam was responding to a statement made by Olympic Council of
Malaysia president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar who lamented the fact that
The Merdeka Stadium Board is more interested in making money from non-
sporting activities than helping national sports associations to use their
"Right now, there are very few activities at the National Stadium
because no club or school can afford to pay for it's use. For the past
year, all the teams in the Junior Hockey League and the Malaysia Hockey
League have selected their home venues at either the Pandamaran, KLHA or
Tun Razak stadiums.
"Only the national players train at Bukit Jalil right now," said
The national players bill is footed by the National Sports Council, and
that is the only reason they are still at the National Hockey Stadium.
Given a chance, they will bolt to the Tun Razak Stadium too.
But the NSC can't afford to make that move because then the National
Stadium will be totally void of hockey.
"The stadiums were built for sports but it looks as though they are
going towards raising income from activities other than sports," said
Tunku Imran after chairing OCM's Executive Board meeting in Wisma OCM on
The MHF used to have their office at the Tun Razak Stadium, but after
the National Stadium was built for the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth
Games, they shifted their office to Bukit Jalil.
The Tun Razak Stadium, after being empty for the last five years, has
been overrun by white ants, but needs only minor renovation to get it back
in working order. The turf at Tun Razak is still first class.
The MHF has slowly started to shift matches to Tun Razak, as seen during
the China International Friendlies before the Champions Challenge.
"If nobody can afford to name the National Stadium as their home venue,
we can't force them as there are many alternatives in the Klang Valley and
any one of them is value for money," said Satgunam.
The Azlan Shah Cup, held in Ipoh this year, might remain in the north
next year too because of the cost factor even though the stadium in Ipoh
is no longer suitable to host international events due to the of lack of
changing rooms and media and resting facilities.
The only tournament slated for the National Stadium this year is the
Asia Cup in September and that too because of FIH requirements for two
international standard pitches for big events.
But don't be surprised if that too is moved to KLHA, because if the
South Africans can play all the Champions Challenge matches on just one
pitch, one sees no reason why the FIH can't allow Malaysia the same.

Smark bankers


BANK Simpanan Nasional are among the richer clubs in the Malaysia Hockey
League but they too have shied away from wanting to make the National
Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil their home ground over the years.
The reason, according to BSN coach C. Paramalingam, there is no point in
forking out exorbitant fees when there are cheaper alternatives.
"We are among the teams which can afford to play at the National Hockey
Stadium, but why pay more when the Tun Razak Stadium is three times
cheaper?" questioned Paramalingam.
The Tun Razak Stadium, under the jurisdiction of the National Sports
Council, charges RM60 per match, while it costs RM180 at the National
Hockey Stadium if the floodlights are not used.
"It is very sad to see the National Stadium turn into a white elephant
because none of the clubs or schools can afford to use its pitches.
"It also does not make economic sense because by placing too high a
price, nobody is going to use the stadium and in the long run, the
artificial turf is going to crack under the heat and then what? We will
need to spend millions to returf it if we secure another international
tournament," said Paramalingam.
Bookings at the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium, the Tun Razak Stadium and the
Pandaraman Hockey Stadium in Klang, all within a 30km radius of each
other, are very heavy and matches or development programmes are always
being run at the three venues.
But at the National Stadium, only the national hockey team has the
luxury of training on it.
"The Pandamaran Stadium is heavily booked by clubs and schools because
the Klang Municipal Council does not charge the Selangor HA for
development programmes while a nominal fee is imposed on schools.
"Why can't the Stadium Board practice the same? I am sure that even with
nominal booking fees, if the pitch is heavily booked, the Stadium Board
will make more money than what they are getting now because the volume
will be much higher," said Paramalingam.
The veteran coach is also sad that the Bukit Jalil Stadium is only
`national' in name, unlike other national stadiums all over the world and
this is a shame.
"Take the Karachi and Perth Commonwealth national stadiums as examples.
The two venues are fully booked and hockey is played from morning till
"The Bukit Jalil Stadium is always empty, save for the national players
who train there.
"It is a crying shame and the Olympic Council of Malaysia should come
out with a proposal to save the hockey stadium from turning into a white
elephant," said Paramalingam.

All clear for Kin Ngoh


FOLLOWING a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test at the Kuala Lumpur General
Hospital, Lai Kin Ngoh has been given the all-clear to continue with her
bowling career.
Chief coach Holloway Cheah, looking very relieved, said Kin Ngoh should
be back in action after a short rest.
"She went for an MRI test yesterday morning and the doctor said her knee
injury was not too bad and that all she needed was some rest. Should be
back at the lanes in a week or two," said Cheah.
Kin Ngoh aggravated an old knee injury while training on Tuesday, and
there were fears that she might not be able to bowl in the World
Championships at the Pyramid Megalanes on Sept 9-20.
Other than the Kin Ngoh scare, Cheah is also pleased with the progress
shown by the national bowlers.
"Malaysia, as hosts, have the advantage of naming the bowlers at the
eleventh hour, so we will maximise this advantage by naming the squad as
late as possible.
"This will give all the national trainees an equal chance to excel and
be selected on merit," said Cheah.
The boys might find the going tough in the World Championships as the
standard of the top fifty bowlers is almost the same and the gold medal
might be decided on tournament-day form.
"But the Malaysian girls have a better chance of excelling in the World
Championships as they are rated among the top five in the world," said
The trainees have been hard at work, burning the Megalanes five times a
week, with a gym workout thrown in to keep them fit.
"We have bowled in the lane patterns given for the World Championships
and the performance of the trainees has been very encouraging. Even if
there is any change to the lane pattern during the tournament, we expect
it to be marginal.'
The World Championships has already cracked a record as 634 bowlers (374
men and 260 women) were confirmed when entries closed on July 31. It has
exceeded the 601 bowlers who rolled at the last championship in Abu Dhabi,

Tough in Poznan


MALAYSIA have been drawn in a killer group and their prospect of retaining
the FIH Youth Carnival Trophy they won in Poznan, Poland last year, looks
In Group A with runners-up Germany and Pakistan, Malaysia will have to
bring out their best to finish in the top two, and a spot in the semi-
finals. The other team in the group is Polish league champions Gniezno.
India look set to dominate Group B as their opponents are Egypt, France
and Poland, who will once again host the tournament.
As if things were not already tough enough, Malaysia will open their
title defence against Germany on Aug 18.
"The boys took a break while the Champions Challenge was on in South
Africa and we resumed training on Monday, but it looks like they have been
keeping fit so all they need to do is work on tactics," said juniors coach
Sarjit Singh yesterday.
The juniors training squad numbered 26 players, but two more have joined
from the senior squad and this can only boost their chances of retaining
the title.
"National coach Paul Lissek has agreed to release (P.) Prabahkaran and
Ismail (Abu) from the Asia Cup training squad and their presence will
beef-up the attack," said Sarjit.
Ismail made his international debut in the Champions Challenge in South
Africa where he was a little shaky, so he definitely needs the Poland
exposure to make him a better player. He might even play in the Asia Cup
on his return because Lissek likes his daring approach in the semi-circle.
"The Malaysian Hockey Federation will be naming the Poland-bound players
tomorrow and two days later we leave for Poland."
Yesterday, the juniors played Malaysia Hockey League side Ernst & Young
and they displayed a good shape.
Fixtures - Aug 18: India v Egypt; Malaysia v Germany; Pakistan v
Gniezno; Poland v France.
Aug 19: Pakistan v Malaysia; Germany v Gniezno
Aug 20: France v India; Poland v Egypt
Aug 21: Germany v Pakistan; France v Egypt; Gniezno v Malaysia; India v
Aug 23: Semi-finals.
Aug 24: Final.

Tenaga retain League title


TENAGA Nasional Bhd retained their Malaysia Hockey League title in style
when they beat Maybank 2-1 at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium yesterday.
It was a hat-trick of League titles for Tenaga, and now they will be
pitching for the elusive overall title.
"Even though we have won the League title for the third time in a row,
the last time the overall title came our way was in 1992. So, naturally,
we will be going out for the double this year," said Tenaga coach K.
Tenaga were the overall champions in 1989, 1987 and then landed the
double in 1992, but for the past three seasons, the overall title keeps
evading them.
With the win yesterday, Tenaga pocketed RM20,000 while Sapura finished
second on the standings and their purse is RM10,000.
The other teams which qualified for the quarter-finals are Ernst &
Young, Maybank, Bank Simpanan Nasional, Royal Malaysian Customs, Royal
Malay Regiment and Pahang Sports Council.
The quarter-finals first leg starts on Aug 29, and Tenaga will face
eighth-placed Pahang Sports Council and they should have no problems
reaching the last four with ease.
Yesterday, Tenaga fielded the best players, and the only regular reserve
on the starting line-up was goalkeeper M. Nadarajan, 33, who put up a
sterling display to stop the Maybank forwards.
Maybank shocked Tenaga with a 15th minute goal by Ismail Abu but Nor
Saiful Zaini slammed in the equaliser in the 21st minute and the winner
was scored by Nor Azlan Rahim in the 25th minute.
"Nadarajan asked to be fielded today and showed that he still has it in
him to play in the MHL for a few more years," said Rajan.
At the Azlan Shah Stadium, Royal Malay Regiment (RMR) completed their
fixtures on a high note when they outplayed Navy Dolphin 7-2.
However it was only in the 30th minute when RMR really took control over
the Navy boys after being held 2-2 after 25 minutes of play.
But it was smooth sailing all the way after that as they knocked home
five goals.
RMR, who had already qualified for the quarter-finals, took the lead in
the fifth minute through Hong Kong import Arif Ali but five minutes later
Navy drew level with a field goal from Mohamed Noor Saad.
RMR regained the lead in the 21st minute through Zulmadi Ariffin but the
Naval team fought back to draw level for the second time four minutes
later through the efforts of Mohamed Nasir Sobri.
Arif scored his second goal in the 30th minute with Zulmadi, Supri Mat
Jusoh, Sulaiman Bujang and Ramli Ismail completing the rout.

Tigers set to roar


JBCC.....................2 Royal M'sian Customs................4
BSN......................2 Pahang Sports Council...............1
TENAGA Nasional Bhd have the luxury of fielding their reserves against
Maybank in the last league match of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) at
the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium today.
Tenaga have safely defended their league title as Maybank will have to
beat them by a whopping 23-goal margin today to deny them, but that does
not mean the Lions are going sit back and watch the match from the
sidelines as at stake is the second spot which comes with a purse of
Yesterday, defending Overall champions Bank Simpanan Nasional beat a
grity Pahang Sports Council 2-1 to finish sixth on the standings and will
meet the third placed team which might be either Ernst & Young or Sapura.
Bank Simpanan Nasional have been struggling in the MHL as their Pakistan
import Syed Imaran has not been up to the mark, unlike the previous season
where they had goal machines Sohail Abbas and Kashif Jawad from Pakistan
to take them the distance.
BSN scored off a Faizal Maadun field goal in the 16th minute and just
before the half-time break, Syed Imran scored off a penalty corner but in
the second half, BSN struggled to hold back an attacking Pahang and were
lucky to be let off the hook as only Harjeet Singh was on target in the
56th minute to rteduce the deficit.
At the Johor Baru Stadium, Royal Malaysian Customs beat Johor Baru City
Council 4-2 to finish fifth in their maiden outing in the MHL.
Tenaga coach K. Rajan aims to make it very difficult for Maybabnk: esterdayWe
have virtually defended out league title, so now, I will be planning to
keep our unbeaten record intact.
"We have won nine matches and drawn one, so the boys will be all out to
keep a clean slate entering into the quarter-finals as a morale boost,"
said Rajan.
The quarter-finals kick-of on Aug 29, and eighth-placed Pahang Sports
Council can expect to be kicked around by league champions Tenaga in the
curtain raiser.
TODAY: Tenaga Nasional v Maybank (Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium, 5.15pm);
Dolphins v Royal Malay Regiment (Azlan Shah Stadium, 5.15pm).

bankers trash Dolphins


MAYBANK had to endure 35 minutes of torture before they steamrolled Navy
Dolphins 7-1 at the Tun Razak Stadium to keep a top-two finish in the
Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) in sight.
Maybank, although still occupying the fourth spot on the standings, now
will have to pray for the Sapura-Ernst & Young match to end up in a draw
today and then beat Tenaga Nasional to finish second in the MHL.
Maybank's Sufian Mohamed scored in the ninth minute, but a torrential
downpour stopped the match for 45 minutes after that and upon resumption,
bottom-of-the-table Navy shocked the title aspirants with a 24th minute
equaliser from M. Sivalingam.
And for the remainder of the half, Navy defended bravely and Maybank
went into the dressing room looking a little shaky. But in the second
half, they started with a bang and piled up the goals.
Suffian (37th, 60th), Ismail Abu (42nd) and a hat-trick from Riduan
Nasir (47th, 63rd, 70th) completed the rout.
At the Johor Baru Stadium, Royal Malay Regiment went on a rampage and
slammed in 10 goals past Johor Baru Municipal Council and
With the win, RMR made sure they will be playing in the quarter-finals.
The RMR goals were scored by Ramli Ismail (seventh, 62nd), Zulhairi
Ariffin (22nd, 17th, 23rd, 60th), Arif Ali (31st, 36th), Sulaiman Bujang
(36th, 69th). The Johor consolation was scord by Manveer Singh in the 15th
At the Bertam Stadium in Penang, Pahang Sports Council beat Srii Aroma
1-0 in front of a few hundred home supporters in a monotonous match.
Both teams played an attacking game, but the goals never came except for
the one in the 32nd minute by Pahang's Mohamed Razi Ismail.
Srii Aroma was a big let down for the home crowd who came to watch them
win the last home match at the stadium but went home disappointed.
At the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh, Customs handed Ipoh City Hall a 3-0
thrashing yesterday.
For Ipoh City Hall, the defeat has virtually put them out of the running
for a quarter-final berth as they wind up their fixtures against high
riding Tenaga Nasional today at the same venue.
Customs, lying fifth on the standings and already qualified for the
quarter-final took the Ipoh team lightly by playing a cool game.
And their break came in the 14th minute when M. Jayamaran broke through
a shaky defense and made a cross from the right for Ranjit Singh to push
the ball home.
Ipoh City Hall tried hard to even the score but some of the individual
attempts by juniors Fazreen Ekhsan Kulub and R.Premkumar did not shake the
confidence of the Customs back line.
Customs, needing another goal to keep their hopes alive, found it in the
42nd minute when former international Lam Mun Fatt sneaked through the
Ipoh defence to beat Kezuan Ghazali from close range.
Ipoh City Hall kept up the pressure but their finishing was a big
letdown and in the 60th minute Anuar Musadat had one good chance but with
only P.Ganesan to beat he sent his shot wide.
Customs wrapped up the match with a 65th minute goal through Mohamed
Farid who went solo and beat Kezuan.
Results - Maybank 7 Navy 1, RMR 10 JBMC 1, Pahang SC 1 Srii Aroma 0,
Customs 3 Ipoh City Hall 0.

Academy on hold


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation's (MHF) plan to set up an academy at the
Tun Razak Stadium may have been placed on ice, but the 40 players selected
for the proposed academy have been thrown a lifeline.
The MHF Technical and Development Committee, chaired by Dr S.S. Cheema,
will call up those selected during the Malaysia Schools Sports Council
tournament in Kuantan in June for a training camp just before the Asia Cup
Kicks off in September.
"The Technical and Development Committee will meet this Sunday to iron
out the finer details of the camp, but it has been agreed that we bring
down the 40 players selected during the MSSM tournament in Kuantan to
watch the Asia Cup as well as undergo a training camp," said Dr Cheema.
The committee will also bring down all the schools coaches involved
during the MSSM to give them a refresher course.
"We also decided to bring down all the coaches involved with the MSSM
because they too need to be briefed on how to handle the selected boys
once they return to their respective States," said Dr Cheema.
The National Sports Council did not approve funding to set up an academy
at the Tun Razak Stadium because they felt that it will clash with the
Bandar Penawar and Bukit Jalil Sports Schools programmes.
"Since the academy did not get off the blueprint stage, it would be a
waste to let the 40 players, all handpicked by expert eyes, to get lost in
the abyss.
"That is why we will bring them down for the Asia Cup. By keeping in
touch with them, hockey in the country will benefit in the long run," said
Dr Cheema.
Some of the boys, who are in Form One to Three, will be sent to the
Bandar Penawar Sports School if they manage to catch the eyes of the
The MHF, in its efforts to have a constant supply of talented players
for the national junior and senior squads, have also come up with an
ambitious development programme which will be in full bloom in three
years' time.
And the camp in September will be the starting point for the MHF dream
to have a national team for each of the Under-13, Under-14 and Under-16
age groups by 2006.

Six more under Lissek


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) Coaching Committee yesterday named
six more coaches to be attached under German Paul Lissek.
The six are Lim Chiow Chuan, K. Rajan, K. Dharmaraj, S. Sivabalan,
Mokhtar Baharuddin and Roslan Mohamed. They will be officially informed of
their attachment soon.
"We (Coaching Committee) held a special meeting on Monday and decided
that it was time to have a bigger pool of coaches for the country and the
names that cropped up were of those who are actively coaching teams, and
of successful schools coaches," said MHF Coaching Committee chairman Datuk
R. Yogeswaran yesterday.
Rajan is fast becoming a household name as his stints with the Tenaga
Nasional juniors and seniors have made the utility giants into a feared
Dharmaraj is currently coaching Ernst & Young in the Malaysia Hockey
League (MHL) while Sivabalan is coaching the Royal Malaysian Customs in
the MHL.
Former international Lim was selected to undergo the first attachment
programme, where Sarjit Singh, Arul Selvaraj and Tai Beng Hai moved up the
ranks, but he could not make it because of work commitment.
"We have selected six for the second attachment programme and, more
coaches will be named for the next batch of training under Lissek. This
ongoing programme will benefit the country in the long run, as the style
of coaching will be standardised and when players report for national
training, it will be very easy to whip up a team," said Yogeswaran.
Mokhtar is the most successful schools coach, as under him, Anderson
School in Ipoh has produced numerous national players. Anderson are also
the eight-time defending champions of the Champions School tournament.
Roslan, of Datuk Taha Secondary School in Gemencheh, has turned the
rural sleepy hollow into a hockey hub with his untiring effort over the
past 10 years.
"The six will be attached to Lissek before the Asia Cup (on Sept 21) and
will also be involved as observers during the FIH Coaching Course during
the same period," said Yogeswaran.
Two coaches will undergo the FIH course in Kuala Lumpur and they are
Beng Hai and Dr Balbir Singh.
"The FIH have alloted two coaches per-country for the coaching course
and we have nominated Beng Hai because he did not attend the course in
South Africa during the Champions Challenge. Dr Balbir, the Coaching
Committee secretary, will also attend because we need him to master the
development part before he can impart his knowledge to others," said
The Coaching Committee are planning for the long term, and when they
have enough qualified coaches in the country, there are plans to only
allow those with paper qualification to handle teams in the MHL and the
Junior Hockey League.

Korea the team to beat


MALAYSIA will open their Asia Cup campaign against South Korea on Sept 21,
and the prospect of winning the Cup is almost out of the question.
The Koreans have beaten Malaysia twice this year and on both occasions
they did not have their full squad.
The first was in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in March where Malaysia lost
2-0 and in the just concluded Champions Challenge in South Africa, the
Koreans improved their performance with a clinical 5-2 win.
And the Koreans, who used both the tournaments to expose nine
youngsters, will parade their full squad for the Asia Cup, as their aim
this year is to lift the Cup and qualify for the 2006 World Cup in
Korean coach Jeon Jay Hong is optimistic they will achieve their target.
"The Azlan Shah Cup and the Champions Challenge were warm-up matches to
give a chance to several youngsters, but the Asia Cup is our main target.
We will have the best players available for the tournament in Malaysia as
we aim to qualify early for the World Cup," said Jeon.
South Korea are the strongest opponents in Malaysia's group, and the
Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) made sure that the hosts get the maximum
benefit of playing the Koreans first before meeting Japan and Hong Kong.
South Korea, by lifting the Asian Games gold medal in Busan, have
qualified for the Athens Olympics, and the early indications are that only
two teams will be able to stop them from qualifying for the World Cup -
Pakistan and India.
Both the Indian continent teams are in Group B, and will clash for the
second time this year. The first will be in the Champions Trophy this
Although Malaysia only have a very slim chance of lifting the Asia Cup
title, they still look good to finish fourth and qualify for the World Cup
The four sure bets for the semi-finals in the Asia Cup are Malaysia,
South Korea from Group A and India and Pakistan from Group B.
Group A: South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong
Group B: India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh.

Tenaga Must Buck up


TENAGA Nasional have one hand on the Malaysia Hockey League title but they
cannot afford to play like they did against Pahang Sports Council on
Sunday if they hope to clinch it.
It was Tenaga's worst outing in the MHL to date, and even the normally
cool K. Rajan was sweating bullets despite the cool evening till the
klaxon sounded ending the match.
"I am so relieved the match is over. Even though we only scored one
goal, the three points are what we need right now," said the Tenaga coach,
wiping the sweat off his brows.
Tenaga know that goals will not help them to re-claim the League title,
as they are 14 goals behind leaders Sapura, but Tenaga have a match in
hand and look the better bet.
"All we need to do is to win both matches this weekend, and the title
will be ours. The goal tally will not matter then," said Rajan.
Tenaga have easy opponents in Ipoh City Hall on Saturday, but will have
a fight on their hands when they host Maybank at the Kuala Lumpur HA
Stadium on Monday.
Maybank are the other team with a clear shot at the title. They have an
easy match against Navy Dolphins on Friday, and then square-off against
Tenaga in what may be the title decider.
"The match against Pahang was our worst in the MHL maybe because the
players were tired after giving their all a day earlier in the hard-fought
(3-2) win over Bank Simpanan Nasional.
"Also my strikers Tajol (Rosli) and Azlan (Misron), who have just return
from the Champions Challenge in South Africa, have yet to re-adjust their
biological clocks and were lost in the Pahang match," said Rajan.
The MHL will go down to the wire this weekend, as leaders Sapura will
take on Ernst & Young on Saturday and one team will drop points and slide
down the table.
Every indication points to either Tenaga or Maybank lifting the title.
In the fight for the last eight, it looks like six teams are already
confirmed while Royal Malay Regiment made a late surge by beating Ipoh
City Hall 5-0 on Sunday.
The last ticket into the quarter-final will be fought out between Ipoh
and the bottom four.

MHF shortlist 18 for Poznan


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation will select 18 juniors for the FIH Youth
Carnival in Poznan, Poland, on Aug 14.
Malaysia, the defending champions, have left no stone unturned in their
preparations as they expect a tougher time defending the gold they won by
beating Germany 3-1 in the final of the last edition.
MHF secretary S. Satgunam said yesterday, they have selected 27 players
for training which will begin on Aug 11.
"Most of the players are involved with the Malaysia Hockey League right
now, so they will only attend centralised training on August 11. The MHF
have also selected Sarjit Singh as head coach, while his assistant will be
Arul Selvaraj. The team manager for Poznan will be Poon Fook Loke," said
Four players eligible for the Youth Festival were left out as they are
playing in the Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur next month.
"P. Prabahkaran, Riduan Nasir, Ismail Abu and Azlan Misron have been
left out of the Poznan list because they might be included in the Asia Cup
training squad.
"Otherwise, we have selected the best juniors in the country to defend
our gold medal," said Sarjit.
Engku Abdul Malik is expected to lead the team once again.
Among the players with experience and played in Poznan last year are
Mohamed Fairuz Hamsani and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, who was named the
`Player-of-the-Tournament' and goalkeeper Ahmad Bazli Razali, who was
voted as the tournament's `Best Goalkeeper'.
Abbas Nekmat, who featured in the team last year, has opted out because
of studies.
Training squad: Mohamed Firdaus, Hanafi Hassan, Ahmad Bazli, Wan Mohamed
Asyrizal, Engku Abdul Malik, S. Bubalan, Baljit Singh Charun Singh,
Mohamed Mawardi, Razie Rahim, P. Mahendran, Sufian Mohamed, S. Selvaraju,
Fauzi Rahim, Radzi Ismail, Mohamed Fakhrulrazi, Kelvinder Singh, Shahrun
Nabil, Fairus Hamsani, Izwan Hassan, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Fazreen Ehsan
Kulub, Hafifi Hafiz, Jiva Mohan, Sallehin Ghani, Redza Maadun, Azli
Misron, Megat Azrafiq.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Champs Tenaga keep title on sight


TENAGA Nasional Bhd kept their sights on the Malaysia Hockey League title
when they beat Pahang Sports Council 1-0 at the Tun Razak Stadium
The defending League champions did not have it easy against Pahang, and
now they will have to dig deep against their last two opponents Ipoh City
Hall and Maybank next weekend to claim the League title.
Tenaga had a miserable outing in the first half, but they kept up the
pressure and finally found the winning touch in the second half.
In the first, Pahang had the better chance of sealing the match as they
had four shots at goal, but could not make it count.
Tenaga came to live in the last minute of the second half, when they
received their first penalty corner, but Nor Saiful Zaini's powerful hit
failed to break the deadlock.
But in the second half, Tenaga played better hockey and nailed the first
goal in the 37th minute when Azlan Misron met a cross from M. Kaliswaran.
Tenaga coach K. Rajan admitted it was the worst outing they had in the
MHL: "Eventhough this was our worst MHL match, I am still happy with the
three points because we are still in the hunt to defend our League title."
Meanwhile, in the earlier match, Royal Malay Regiment kept their hopes
alive of reaching the quarter-final when they whitewashed Ipoh City Hall
Hong Kong import Arif Ali started the rout with a penalty stroke in the
14th minute and a jaded Ipoh side just caved in after that even though
there was not much pressure from the Army men.
The other RAMD goals were scored by Zulhairi Ariffin (26th), Sulaiman
Bujang (42nd), Azahari Yusof (56th) and Ramli Ismail (67th).
At the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh, Royal Malaysian Customs hammered the
daylights out of Navy Dolphins when they went on an 11-1 rampage.
With the win, customs are virtually assured of a berth in the quarter-
finals. The Customs rout was started by Faried Abdulah in a first minute
field goal while the other goals scorers were Ikmal Jabar (sixth), Lam Mun
Fatt (eighth, 22nd), Ranjit Singh (20th, 23rd), Melvinder Singh (35th), St
John Davis (41st, 51st, 62nd). Faried ended the goal count with a 66th
minute field goal.
At the Bertam Hockey Stadium in Kepala Batas, Ernst & Young thrashed
middle of the table Srii Aroma 8-1, reports K. KANDIAH.
Ernst & Young's short corner specialist and top scorer Len Aiyappa
sounded the board in the third minute with a well taken short corner hit
and put in another three minutes later.
After fumbling three more short corner hits Aiyappa added another in the
22nd and rounded up his tally with the fourth goal in the 65th minute.
Their other goals, which were all field goals, came from S. Suriagandhi
(26th), Chua Boon Huat (28th), Mirnawan Nawawi (38th) and Kamal Affendy
Mohamad (39th).
In the 54th minute of the match Srii Aroma's D. Baskaran dribbled past
three opponents to squeeze into the semicircle to score the consolation.
Results: Royal Malaysian Customs 11 Navy Dolphins 1, Royal Malay
Regiment 5 Ipoh City Hall 0, Ernst & Young 8 Srii Aroma 1, Tenaga Nasional
1 Pahang Sports Council 0.

Bad goalkeeping our downfall


DESPITE fielding the nation's best players, almost, Malaysia failed to
capitalise against a mediocre field in the Champions Challenge at the
Randburg Hockey Stadium in South Africa.
It was a tournament in which the Malaysians were handed almost
everything on a silver platter, even an excellent chance to play in the
But it was in Africa - the land of the world's fiercest predators that
saw Malaysia tuck their tail between their legs to finish last.
It started with poor umpiring in the curtain-raiser against South
Africa, and the Malaysians never recovered.
But the umpires caused only minimal damage. The bulk of the blame lies
on the two goalkeepers - Roslan Jamaluddin and S. Kumar - who destroyed
Malaysia's dream of playing in the Champions Trophy.
Basically, if the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) wants to see a good
finish in the Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur in September, both goalkeepers must
be dropped from the squad.
MHF can still rely on former No 1 Nasihin Nubli as he has been playing
well for Sapura in the Malaysia Hockey League.
If the MHF can sort out this problem, half the national team's problems
will be solved too.
Nasihin had to quit national duty to help his father manage a poultry
farm and unlike both the present goalkeepers, Nasihin is no chicken.
Then there is junior goalkeeper Ahmad Bazli, who played for Malaysia
Sports School in the recent Junior Hockey League to consider as well.
"There are no two ways about it. We need to bring back a former
goalkeeper (Nasihin). But bringing in an 18-year-old (Bazli) will not be
good for the team because he will need time to adjust to international
hockey, and we don't have that luxury," said coach Paul Lissek.
The German did not blame the disastrous outing solely on the
goalkeepers, because he feels the entire team played badly in patches.
Their worst period was in the last 15 minutes of the matches.
On a more positive note, it was heartening to see skipper S. Kuhan get
over his Azlan Shah Cup nightmare, and together with Nor Azlan Bakar, form
a solid partnership in defense.
To cap his performance, Kuhan even scored six goals.
Forwards Tajol Rosli, Azlan Misron and Ismail Abu are still young but
have now seen action at the top level. However, they were a big letdown in
Africa as out of the 10 goals that Malaysia scored, they contributed only
Amin Rahim, with more than 60 caps under his belt, was a disappointment
as he was not physically and mentally fit and could not cope with the
pressure of playing a full match.
"We have a big problem here," said Lissek pointing to his head.
"Most of the players are not mentally strong and easily give up even
though we are in the lead. That and fitness needs to be worked on further.
"It might sound a little silly when I say that this outing is not
entirely a waste, because back home (Malaysia) people will laugh if I
praise a team which finished last in a tournament.
"But I see some promise in the team, the structure is there and all we
need to do is, polish a few areas.
"The Champions Challenge will help us in the Asia Cup campaign."
For the Olympics Qualifiers in Madrid in March next year, Malaysia is
almost assured of meeting England, New Zealand and Spain again.
On that note, the Challenge was not entirely a waste of time.

Malaysia sink to rock bottom


Final: Spain .............7 S. Korea........3
3rd-4th: S. Africa .......2 NZ..............2
(SA win on sudden-death pen)
5th-6th: Malaysia.........2 England.........3
RANDBURG: Malaysia blew a 2-1 lead, and sank to the bottom of the
Champions Challenge pool when they allowed England too much space in the
final minutes at the Randburg Hockey Stadium in South Africa yesterday.
Meanwhile, Spain made it back into the Champions Trophy elite when they
humbled South Korea 7-3 in the final.
The last time Spain played in the Champions Trophy was in 2000 in
Rotterdam but they have been struggling since. But yesterday, they nailed
the Koreans in the first eight minutes of the match itself.
And in the third-placing match, South Africa downed New Zealand in a
sudden-death penalty shoot-out with the match tied 2-2 after extra-time.
Only seven minutes was left on the clock, with Malaysia clinging to the
lead, but it was not motivation enough for the men in yellow to bring out
their best. Instead, they waited for England to attack and let in two soft
goals to sink to a new low.
It is always difficult for any team to play in the classification
matches, especially if it is at 10am and even when the sun is still
The Malaysian players started on a very shaky note and a mistake by Amin
Rahim in the 15th minute earned England a penalty corner.
Amin stopped an overhead flick from the English side with his stick
raised over his shoulders even though he was inside the Malaysian semi-
circle and then there was a poor clearance during the penalty corner and
Ben Hawes tucked in the lead.
The Malaysian players maintained an attacking posture though and after a
series of attempts, they won a penalty corner with skipper S. Kuhan
levelling the score in the 20th minute.
Two minutes later, Kuhan flicked in the second penalty corner and
Malaysia were back in command of the match.
Malaysia took things easy in the second half, being contented with the
one-goal lead as every player was inside the 25-yardline.
It was evident that England were going to get their equaliser sooner
than later because they never stopped attacking the Malaysian goalmouth.
For 20 agonising minutes, the Malaysian forwards never saw the ball
upfront as England pushed from every angle and thus with only seven
minutes remaining in the match, the defence went into snooze mode.
It was the easiest of equalisers for Jimmy Wallis when he tapped the
ball in between the legs of onrushing Roslan Jamaluddin.
The equaliser spurred the English on and with three minutes on the
clock, with extra-time and possibly a penalty shoot-out looming, Malaysia
buckled under pressure yet again.
This time, a long ball from the center found Danny Hall in the middle of
the Malaysian semicircle and he slotted in to seal fifth spot for the
English in the Champions Challenge.

Little respect for 'chicken Malaysia'


RANDBURG (SA): Malaysia will have to work on its image, because the
umpires still have no respect for this fast-rising team.
Played-out twice in the Champions Challenge in South Africa, national
coach Paul Lissek was at breaking point after South Korea were given added
advantage in their 5-2 win over Malaysia.
It was a crucial encounter, which could have seen Korea playing in the
third-fourth placing match against Malaysia, instead of the final, but the
fourth-ranked team in the world received some divine intervention to aid
their cause.
"I now feel that I have chosen the wrong sport to coach. How can hockey
grow worldwide if umpires continuously support teams which have a proven
"Malaysia have started to knock on the doors of the elite hockey playing
countries and I feel that some people do not like this. The penalty stroke
awarded against (K.) Gobinathan killed my boys. The first penalty corner
in the 11th minute (where Korea scored) was also very heartbreaking
because the ball accidentally hit (S.) Kuhan's foot about two feet outside
the semicircle," lamented Lissek.
Lissek has been very vocal about the standard of umpiring in the
Champions Challenge, and now FIH officials who used to look up to him with
respect, make an about turn when they see him approach.
"Some of the officials and umpires have watched videos of the Malaysia-
South Africa match and only now they are coming up to me and saying the
yellow card handed to Madzli Ikmar was unwarranted. Isn't it too late to
agree now?
"That yellow card ruined our chances in the first match, and the umpires
(John Wright of South Africa and Nick Lockhart of England) must have felt
that Malaysia were a "chicken team" and they should'nt be allowed to play
at the highest level," said Lissek.
There was a clear example of how the umpires respected the Koreans more
than Malaysia:
When Wright gave the penalty stroke in the 30th minute, Malaysian
skipper Kuhan requested him to consult the second umpire but he was just
brushed aside and the stroke stood.
But when Malaysia received a penalty corner in the early minutes of the
second half to narrow the gap, South Korean skipper Kim Jung Chul went up
to umpire Wright and requested him to consult the second umpire.
Lockhart ran from the other end of the field, and signaled that Malaysia
did not deserve the penalty corner and Wright quickly blew for a restart.
"You can see for yourself that they are more willing to review the
situation when teams with a proven track record protest than teams which
are trying to make an impact.
"The decisions taken today (yesterday) would never had been seen if
Germany or Holland were playing because the umpires know that the players
will throw their hockey sticks down, and refuse to continue with the
"But against `chicken' teams like Malaysia, they are brave because they
know we would not want to take the risk of getting into trouble with the
FIH," said Lissek.
Meanwhile, as predicted, Spain and South Korea will play in the final
today. South Africa needed to win by three goals to reach the final, but
Spain were too good for the hosts and won 1-0.
The gold medallists today will book a place in the 2004 Champions
Trophy, scheduled for November in Lahore, Pakistan.
Fixtures - Final: South Korea v Spain; 3rd-4th placing: South Africa v
New Zealand; 5th-6th: Malaysia v England.

Going wild in untamed South Africa


IF you are in South Africa, a glimpse of the Big Five in their natural
habitat is a must, so the Malaysian journalists covering the Champions
Challenge decided to pool their resources and go on a mini tour yesterday.
The best place would have been the Kruger National Park, but not only
was it out of our budget, but also too large to travel around within the
limited time we had.
So, we went to the nearest Big Five (Lion, Rhinoceros, Elephant,
Hippopotamus, and Buffalo), which was a two-hour drive from the hotel, but
were told not to expect too much.
The Philensberg Park is about 80,000 hectares and house to a myriad of
South African animals left to roam in the wild. Unlike in zoos where the
animals are in cages and the humans are free to walk - in South Africa,
the animals are left to roam free while the humans are in a metal box
(cars) and not advised to venture outside because they might turn into a
snack for some of the predators roaming the park.
The journey took us past a flea market, a mile long, and selling wares
that could turn a window shopper into a big spender.
African woodcarvings are a marvel because every detail is cleverly
chipped from ironwood, and the animals look very handsome and majestic.
Face masks of every design, some used in tribal rituals were aplenty, but
their fierce designs were not of our taste.
Kudu statues, which are almost extinct in the wild, fetched the highest
price, but the bargains at the flee market were almost 80 percent cheaper
than what one would get at the classy shopping complexes in Randburg or
other big cities.
We only had an hour, so there was a flurry of bargaining done in the
short span, and the van was almost half filled when we resumed our journey
to the Big Five.
The Philensberg Park, very small in scale compared to what South Africa
has to offer, was a big letdown in the first 30 minutes of travel because
the only animals we saw were hippopotamus and small birds.
Our guide, farmer Danny who turned into a tour guide because he wanted
to do something else in life, was hell-bent on showing us a glimpse of the
bigger animals so we started to get off the tarred road and roam around
the dirt tracks.
And the journey became tolerable because out jumped a herd of zebras in
front of us, the leader cautious at first, but slowly became cocky and led
his herd to the water's edge to quench their thirst.
Next was a herd of waterbucks, which according to our guide, was the
last resort for hungry lions.
"Waterbucks are not preferred as meals because the moment they are
killed, their meat starts emitting a strong odor which the lions dislike.
But if they do not have a choice, hungry lions are known to pounce on
waterbucks as a last resort," said Danny.
It was clear to see that elephants had ravaged the park as trees were
either stripped of their bark or smashed to pieces. But we only managed to
catch a glimpse of two bull elephants because they like to rest in the
shade under the hot afternoon sun.
Giraffes and wilderbeasts were only in small groups, but we never found
the lions but overall, the budget tour was exhilarating.
The next stop was Sun City, and it was like travelling back home to the
Sunway Lagoon Resort back home. The only difference was that Sun City had
a casino and the theme park was home to magnificent statues of African
We tried our hands at the one-arm-bandit, but like the Malaysian hockey
players, luck was not on our side.

Fifth or sixth at best


Philip Burrows (9th, 40th)
Hayden Shaw (11th)
Bevan Hari(60th)
Lee Jung Seong (12th, 30th, 40th) S. Kuhan (24th)
Seo Jong Ho (44th) Tajol Rosli (42nd)
Hwang Seung Sun (70th)
MALAYSIA had a good chance of beating South Korea yesterday, but two
penalty strokes relegated them to fifth-sixth placing while Korea moved
into the final of the Champions Challenge in South Africa yesterday.
Malaysia will meet England tomorrow for the placing match, while South
Korea will get a shot of making the Champions Trophy awashed with Asian
teams as Pakistan and India are already in.
Malaysia looked psyched up for the encounter against South Korea and as
the minutes ticked by, it was evident that every player in yellow had only
one mission - to beat South Korea and play for the bronze medal.
But a tackle by S. Kuhan about one feet outside the Malaysian semicircle
was punished with a penalty corner by South African referee John Wright.
Lee Jung Seong, who had scored four goals in the tournament, notched his
fifth when he pounced on a rebound.
Malaysia were not broken by the goal and defender Nor Azlan Bakar
rallied his teammates with a loud battle cry: "Kita masih boleh menang
And this made a difference in the game as Malaysia swamped the Korean
goalmouth and earned a penalty corner in the 24th minute. After exchanging
his hockey stick at the sidelines, Kuhan flicked in the equalizer.
However, a tackle inside the semicircle by K. Gobinathan on Lee resulted
in Wright blowing for a penalty stroke.
Lee bagged his sixth goal of the tournament when he flicked low on the
right of goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin.
The second half started on a bad note for Malaysia into the match as
Roslan Jamaluddin had brought down a Korean player which resulted in
another penalty stroke as hardly five minutes after the breather.
Lee scored his hat-trick from the spot. Malaysia refused to budge as two
minutes later they earned a penalty corner, which was deflected in by
Tajol Rosli.
In the 44th minute, Seo Jong Ho made it more difficult for Malaysia by
scoring the fourth goal.
With 10 seconds left on the clock, Hwang Seong Sun made it 5-0.
In the earlier match, New Zealand relegated England to playing in the
fifth-sixth position when they thrashed the English 4-0.

On a kamikaze mission


MALAYSIA and South Korea will both be on a `kamikaze' mission in the last
day of pool matches in the Champions Challenge today.
Both teams still have a chance of reaching the final. Malaysia in the
final? Yes, it is mathematically possible but in reality, a third placing
finish will be a better target.
Malaysia must beat South Korea to have a total of seven points, and then
wait for luck to do its bit to reach the final. If England beats New
Zealand and Spain beats South Africa, Malaysia will enter the final on a
better goal difference over South Korea.
Back to reality, a win against South Korea is long overdue, as Malaysia
have succumbed to the Asian giants in recent tournaments, the closest to
memory being the Azlan Shah Cup.
The Koreans won on a slim 2-1 margin in Ipoh, and in Randburg, South
Africa, they have been on a roller coaster ride.
"This tournament is so closely knitted in standards that any team has a
chance of reaching the final (except England). Spain looked like they have
booked one ticket, while the rest will only know after Friday's matches,"
said Malaysian coach Paul Lissek.
To be frank, Malaysia blew their chances when they lost to South Africa
in the curtain raiser. But South Africa have shown since, especially by
beating South Korea, that they are no pushovers and are serious about
reviving hockey.
"We can beat Korea. But then, Malaysia could have also beaten Spain if
not for silly mistakes made by both goalkeepers.
"I have been following Korea closely in the tournament and although they
are very good, they still have a long way to go before they can mature
like the previous Korean teams we have seen in action at world level,"
said Lissek.
Erratic. That is the exact word to describe the South Koreans in the
Champions Challenge. Sometimes, one wonders, whether the "Malaysian hockey
bug" has caught on with the normally reliable Korean boys.
"Against Spain, we were asleep for too long in the first half. The boys
had too much respect for the team, which beat them 7-1 in the Osaka
Olympic qualifiers.
"But it was clear that Spain were not their normal self against us as
they made too many unforced errors and could have been beaten. But against
Korea on Friday (today), I am confident that we can beat them and make the
play-offs for the third place," said Lissek.
That will be only a one-rung improvement than the First Edition of the
Champions Challenge in Kuala Lumpur in 2001.
"Yes, it will be a small step in the Champions Challenge but a big leap
in our preparation for the Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur (in September)," said
And if luck favours the men in yellow, they might just find themselves
elevated to playing in the final on Sunday. But first, they must beat the

Malaysia back to old self


Malaysia ...........2 Spain ...........3
South Korea ........2 England .........1
RANDBURG: Malaysia were back to their old selves as they allowed Spain to
seal the crucial Champions Challenge match in the first half at the
Randburg Hockey Stadium in South Africa yesterday.
Only birthday boy S. Kuhan, who turned 27 yesterday, had a good game,
tucking away two goals out of the three penalty corners that came
Malaysia's way.
The rest of the players were in no mood to play hockey, and the
Spaniards only had to bring out 50 percent of their capabilities to
collect three points.
It was perfect weather for hockey, but the Malaysians were not in the
game as they allowed Spain too much room to move and paid a price for it.
S. Kumar started between the posts for the third consecutive match, as
he had impressed with his agility in the previous two, but he was not in
his element yesterday, allowing two soft goals to past him before coach
Paul Lissek replaced him with Roslan Jamaluddin.
Spain held back and preferred to defend in the first 10 minutes and when
they had their machinery going it resulted in goal from an acute angle.
Santi Freixa was at the Malaysian goal line, and when he attempted to
hit the ball to the top of the semicircle, the ball touched the tip of his
hockey stick and a freak goal was the result.
The goal awoke a handful of players in the team, and five minutes later,
Malaysia received their first penalty corner. Kuhan found himself in an
awkward position, pushed the ball to the leg of a Spanish defender and the
umpire awarded another penalty corner.
This time, Kuhan's flick was clean and Malaysia were back in the match,
but not for long.
Back on snooze mode, unforced errors were committed by the Malaysian
defenders and Spain were back in the lead when Alberto Esteban took a soft
hit towards goal and Kumar again failed to stop it.
The Spaniards only tested Kumar twice, and both resulted in goals.
Lissek replaced him with Roslan and with 10 seconds left on the first
half clock, the experienced hand was beaten by Pol Amat and Malaysia went
into the dressing room with little hope of salvaging the match.
Malaysia had more than enough chances to seal the match after the
breather, but the forwards, Tajol Rosli especially, were a big letdown and
as the clocked ticked in the last quarter, a desperate push in the 57th
minute finally landed Malaysia the second penalty corner.
Kuhan took his time, and his well placed low flick crashed into the
board and Malaysia narrowed the gap.
But after the goal, the Malaysian players were back to their old selves
and Spain didn't have much defending to do in the remainder of the match.
* SOUTH Korea kept their hopes alive of reaching the final of the
Champions Challenge when they beat England 2-1 in the second match.
South Korea's prolific goal-getter Seo Jong Ho started the ball rolling
with a deft touch in the fifth minute, and just before the halftime
whistle, You Hyo Sik made it 2-0.
England narrowed the gap in the second half though Dave Matthews and
pushed forward but could not find the equaliser.

All six equally balances, says Hendriks


THE Spaniards escaped by the skin of their teeth against New Zealand
yesterday, and only now, their coach Maurits Hendriks believes that all
six teams in the Champions Challenge are equally balanced.
After thrashing England 6-2 in the curtain raiser of the Champions
Challenge, Hendriks practically claimed the Champions Trophy ticket, but
after losing to South Korea and scoring the winning goal against New
Zealand with five seconds left on the clock, he has started seeing things
"All the teams in the Champions Challenge have improved tremendously,
especially Malaysia who I last took a keen interest in during the Sydney
2000 Olympics," said Hendriks.
Hendriks was coaching Holland during the Sydney Olympics, and now is
helping Spain get their act together for the Olympics and World Cup
"The last tine I saw Malaysia in action was during the Kuala Lumpur
World Cup (2002) and comparatively, the team has improved tremendously,"
said Hendriks.
Hendriks, who is a long-time friend of national coach Paul Lissek, said
finally he could see the handiwork of the German in the Malaysian team.
"Malaysia had a very good defensive structure, but they always lacked
forwards. But from what I saw against England today (yesterday) the team
has finally started opening up.
"I can see a solid team in the making, as when the young forwards
mature, the goals will start coming easier," said Hendriks.
The Malaysian forwards struggled to find their footing in the first
match against South Africa, and this resulted in the defence cracking up
after facing tremendous pressure.

A win for malaysia, finally


Malaysia...............4 England................1
Spain..................3 New Zealand............2
RANDBURG: Malaysia displayed great determination to outclass England 4-1
in the Champions Challenge at the Randburg Hockey Stadium in South Africa
With the win, the hopes of a good finish were raised. There was tension
in the air as Malaysia adopted an open game and started attacking from the
There were plenty of good passes into the England semi-circle but there
were no takers, as the ball whizzed all across the field. England
goalkeeper Jimi Lewis was under constant pressure in the first five
minutes, while Malaysian goalkeeper S. Kumar, fielded for the second time
in South Africa, had nothing much to do except direct his team-mates from
the back.
England looked comfortable in defence, and relied on long balls to get
to their forwards. And in the sixth minute, a long ball into the Malaysian
semi-circle earned them a penalty corner, which was cleanly tucked in by
Brett Garrard.
The Malaysian runners were a little slow out of the goalmouth and
Garrard's low push rolled past Nor Azlan Bakar and into the goalmouth.
Malaysia earned their first penalty corner in the 16th minute, but
stopper Nor Azlan could not trap the ball but the forwards fought back and
won the second consecutive penalty corner.
This time, skipper S. Kuhan failed to lift the ball off the artificial
pitch, but he recovered and made a pass to Jiwa Mohan, who slammed the
ball past Lewis.
Malaysia received their fifth penalty corner in the 40th minute, and
Kuhan's powerful flick grounded goalkeeper Lewis but Jiwa was slow to pick
up the rebound and the English survived.
The men in yellow swamped the English goalmouth and in the 49th minute,
K. Keevan Raj finally got the penalty corner set piece right and Malaysia
were in the lead.
Jiwa Mohan won the penalty corner and Kuhan pushed the ball to Keevan
who sent it crashing to the top of the English net.
Malaysian team pressed harder and were rewarded again in the 59th
Off a well-planned counter attack, the ball met Azlan Misron's stick and
he coolly slotted it in.
And with two minutes remaining, Riduan Nasir and Tajol Rosli perfected a
one-two with Tajol getting the last touch for Malaysia's fourth goal.
* SPAIN came back from a goal down to beat New Zealand 3-2 and kept
their hopes alive for a medal finish.
The Kiwis shocked the Spaniards with a sixth minute goal through Umesh
Parag but Xavi Ribas equalised 18 minutes later.
In the second half, Bevan Hari again gave New Zealand the lead with a
39th minute goal but it was cancelled a minute later by EduardTubau. And
when the match looked like it was heading for a draw, Rodrigo Garza nailed
the winner.

Home away from home


WAN Abdullah is the unofficial mayor of Johannesburg. The Malaysian, from
Kelantan, decided to try his luck in South Africa 15 years ago, and today,
his WGS store in Village Walk, Sandton, can be considered as the "Malaysia
WGS (Wan's Gems Store) is a cosy little place, where discounts await
every Malaysian - with a touch of Malaysian hospitality.
The Malaysian journalists covering the Champions Challenge in Randburg,
South Africa, first heard about Wan on board a Malaysia Airlines flight.
Salleh, the head steward, recommended WGS if we were looking for bargain
stones and stone trees.
Even though we forgot to ask Salleh for the shop address, it was not
hard to find.
Hungering for some spicy food on the third day in South Africa, we
walked into a Cape Town Malay shop at the Sandton Shopping Complex and
asked the manager for Wan.
He immediately retorted: "Wan Batu? Yes, I know him." And after
shuffling through his calling card rack, he handed us Wan's card.
We called his handphone, with some reservation, but were greeted by a
warm voice at the other end. And that night itself, Wan arrived at our
hotel and took us to his shop. Talk about Malaysian hospitality.
We were given a quick tour of his shop, as it was nearly closing time,
after which we sat down for coffee, with Wan becoming our tour guide.
Every question about Johannesburg was answered sincerely, and he even
gave us helpful tips on how to survive in this crime-ridden country.
"When I came here 15 years ago to try my luck, the situation was much
worse. Now, it is much safer but still, make sure you plan your excursions
properly. There are plenty of nice places to visit here, but make sure you
guys go with a licensed tour operator, because they will take care of
you," said Wan.
Wan keeps a visitors' journal in his shop, and flipping through its
pages, names of various Malaysians, some famous, have been jotted down.
Datuk Dr Siti Hasmah's picture was on the wall, with various other
Malaysians who have walked into Wan's store.
After the journalists had picked out their favourite stones, and a good
discount given, we started talking about hockey and Wan found out that the
Malaysian players had no one to cheer them on at the Randburg Hockey
It was decided there and then, that the Malaysia Airlines cabin crew,
led by head stewrd Salleh, that was housed at an adjacent hotel, would
come and cheer the Malaysian boys in the crucial match against England.
Salleh promised about 17 crew members as cheerleaders - but we still had a
problem. Where to get Malaysian flags?
Not a problem for Wan though!
He phoned his friend at the Malaysian Tourism Centre in Joburg, and
within 30 minutes, the flags were delivered to WGS, which by now was quite
crowded with Malaysians as more Malaysia Airlines cabin crew had walked in
and joined us.

England can be beaten


RANDBURG: Malaysia can beat England today, as they will be under a
character microscope at the Randburg Hockey Stadium because they have
everything else under their belt.
Fitness is at its peak, skills they have, and motivation to do the
country proud in the Champions Challenge is left to be displayed.
"After South Korea beat Spain, and England beat South Africa, the
tournament has been thrown wide open. We have the players to beat England
and there are no two ways about it," said national chief coach Paul
That is if the team does not adopt a defensive technique, like they did
against New Zealand in the first half on Sunday.
Malaysia defended well, but with only Jiwa Mohan, Azlan Misron and
Fairuz Ramli upfront, the wall finally cracked after constant attack from
the Kiwis.
Ismail Abu, 19, saved the day for Malaysia with a well-placed reverse
stick shot, but before the goal, he was a nervous wreck.
"I was a little edgy in the first half, because it was very cold and my
fingers became numb. I also found it harder to breathe as the cold air
burned my lungs.
"It is very hard to play hockey in this kind of weather (about five
degrees) but the goal has set the fire burning in me, and I hope I can
help my team-mates achieve a good finish in the Champions Challenge," said
Tajol Rosli, among the most hardworking in the squad, let his team-mates
down when he missed four sitters, which could have ended the Kiwi fight
early in the match.
"I normally do not miss such easy opportunities, but yesterday (Sunday)
I was in a dreamlike mode and my actions became slower as the match
progressed because I could not breathe well in the chilly weather. But we
still have a fighting chance, and we must beat England to keep our hopes
alive," said Tajol.
England were whipped 6-2 by Spain, but made a remarkable recovery to
edge hosts South Africa 2-0 in the next match. But the English are far
from impressive, as they struggle to rebuild a team for the Olympics and
World Cup Qualifiers.
Skipper S. Kuhan has had an exceptional tournament, and his confidence
is fast latching itself onto K. Gobinathan and Amin Rahim at the backline.
"The Champions Challenge has brought out the best in most of the
players, and even though we have only a draw and a defeat to show after
two matches, the team, as a whole, has shown tremendous progress.
"(S.) Kumar, who is normally a little shaky in goal, displayed a very
cool attitude when fielded against New Zealand. And the young forward line
of Tajol, Ismail and Azlan (Misron) no longer hold back when they come
face-to-face with burly defenders.
"They have started using their speed to get around, and I am sure we
will have a very good time in the Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur (in
September)," said Lissek.

Malaysia outplayed by 13-man South Africa


THIS column is not to provide an excuse, but to clear the air on
Malaysia's performance in the first match against South Africa.
The fact is that the national hockey players were ready to maul the
hosts. And after skipper S. Kuhan scored the third minute penalty corner
goal everyone at the stadium, including both umpires, knew that the South
Africans were in for a hiding.
Every pass, stop, and attacking formation of our young forwards was
flawless - until German umpire Markus Meyer decided that he has to do
something to bail out the hosts.
National chief coach Paul Lissek, after the match, just shook his head
and said: "I know the umpire (Meyer). Maybe he was under tremendous
pressure to prove to everyone that he has nothing to do with Paul Lissek.
"That he was very neutral. Maybe I'm wrong, but that was the gut feeling
that I got during the entire match."
In the span of five minutes after Malaysia's opening goal, Meyer started
handing the South Africans dubious decisions, which even shocked some of
the local supporters.
The most glaring was in the 12th minute when he gave the South Africans
a penalty corner because the ball hit Madzli Ikmar's foot in the semi-
However, the truth is that South Africa were rewarded a free hit just
outside the semi-circle, and as Madzli was walking into the semi-circle
with his back to the ball, the free hit was swiftly taken and it struck
his foot.
Instead of blowing for a retake, Meyer blew for a penalty corner and
this blew the top of the Malaysian players.
Kuhan protested vehemently, and to a certain degree, the Malaysian
players were too angry to think clearly. Then Justin King levelled the
score with a low penalty corner flick.
Malaysia forgot about the goal and went on the offensive, but Meyer had
other plans. Malaysia lost the match because they played against 13
At the other end, umpire Murray Grime from Australia picked up the tempo
for the hosts by sending Madzli to the sin bin - yes, docile Madzli who
will hesitate to swat a fly even if it was threatening his life.
After that, it was time for Chua Boon Huat to be taken out. Chua was
shoved from the back by Ken Forbes, and on his way down, his stick hit the
face of the South African.
While Chua deserved a technical red card, the South African should have
at least been handed the yellow. He walked away scot-free without as much
as a verbal warning from Grime.
The hosts' win was worth a single column in the local Sunday Times
newspaper. The heading read: SA hold up against fiery Malaysia.
The Times reporter wrote: "The Malaysians, although more defensively
inclined, scraped for everything and showed technical finesse. Indeed
there were many unforced errors from the Malaysians, a team with men of
goatees, pony tails and tempers perpetually threatening to come to the
The temperature was a cool 10 degrees Celsius but things were really
heating up at the Randburg Hockey Stadium yesterday because South Africa
fielded 13 players and the FIH officials turned a blind eye.

Randburg misery continues


Malaysia ..................1 New Zealand .....................1
South Korea ...............3 Spain ...........................2
England....................2 South Africa ....................0
RANDBURG: Malaysia held New Zealand to a 1-1 draw in the Champions
Challenge at the Randburg hockey Stadium here in South Africa yesterday to
keep their hopes alive.
The match belonged to the Malaysians but Tajol Rosli, who normally takes
his chances well in the circle, missed four sitters, forcing Malaysia to
share the points.
Malaysia adopted a defensive approach by fielding four players at the
back - Amin Rahim, K. Gobinathan, S. Kuhan and Nor Azlan Bakar - and the
gameplan worked as the Kiwis became extremely frustrated as the match
It took New Zealand 18 minutes before they could test Malaysia's second
choice goalkeeper S. Kumar as Roslan Jamaluddin, who had a poor game
against the South Africans on Saturday, was benched yesterday.
Everything went well for Malaysia from the start with coach Paul Lissek
opting for Amin instead of striker Azlan Misron.
The Kiwis, who did not field penalty corner specialist Hayden Shaw who
is down with a stomach strain, were awarded a penalty corner in the first
half but Ryan Archibald's attempt was palmed away by Kumar.
However, a defensive error in the 32nd minute saw the Malaysians trail
by a goal.
It started when New Zealand were awarded a free hit outside the semi-
circle and just as all 11 Malaysians clamoured for position, Gareth Brooks
took advantage of the situation by taking a quick shot over Kumar's
Malaysia had four open chances at the New Zealand goalmouth but Tajol
Rosli, Riduan Nasir and Saiful Azli blew it.
And five minutes after resumption, Fairuz Ramli took the full force of a
clearance and had to be stretchered out. The medical team took almost five
minutes to strap a neck brack before taking him to hospital.
It took Ismail Abu to score for Malaysia in the 55th minute with a
reverse stick shot which sailed past goalkeeper Paul Woolford for the
face-saving equaliser.
In other matches, South Korea stunned Spain 3-2 while England defeated
South Africa 2-0.
Lee Jung Seon was the toast of the Koreans as he rallied his team-mates
in a tough encounter against the Spaniards and then notched a hat-trick to
keep their hopes alive.
The Spaniards, fresh from their 6-2 demolition of England on Saturday,
found the Koreans in an uncompromising mood.
But on the rare occasion that they did cross the 25-yard line in the
fifth minute, Eduard Tubau dribbled past goalkeeper Ko Dong Sik and tucked
in the ball.
But that was as far as they went in the first half as the Korean
defenders closed ranks.
The Koreans piled on the pressure and received their third penalty
corner in the 47th minute.
Lee Jung Seong's flicked the ball past the goalkeeper. And when the
Koreans were awarded the fourth penalty corner eight minutes later, they
celebrated first before Lee flicked it home to give them a 2-1 lead.
The Spaniards clawed back into the game through Xavi Ribas in the 65th
minute with a low flick from a penalty corner.
South Korea made the most of the attacks after that, and Lee notched his
hat-trick when he pounced on a penalty corner rebound in the 64th minute.
England's win over South Africa has thrown the tournament wide open.

Spain bent on title


SPAIN will stop at nothing to win the Champions Challenge gold medal, as
they crave to join the world's elite six hockey playing nations.
Unlike the rest of the five countries in Randburg, South Africa who want
the experience to prepare for the Olympics and World Cup, Spain are hungry
for the glitter of gold.
"We are not here for exposure, but to win the gold medal and rejoin the
elite six in the world. Our objectives are clear from the onset, and the
players know their mission," said coach Francisco Cortes.
The 6-2 hiding they handed England was a clear warning for the other
teams which harbour any hopes.
And though they lost 3-2 to South Korea yesterday, their aspirations
would appear to remain intact, given the open field at this stage of the
On the European Championships, Cortes was more realistic: "It is our
dream to beat the best in Europe, but we will leave it at that.
Realistically, we are still far behind Germany and the Netherlands."
Before the Challenge, Spain played a series of matches against Germany,
the Netherlands, Argentina and India.
"Believe me, we got our butts kicked in most of the matches. But that is
the only way to improve, we need to play more matches against Champions
Trophy teams.
"The only way to get that exposure is to win the Challenge in South
Africa," said Cortes.
Spanish skipper Juan Escarre, 33, is still as fit as ever and rallied
his team-mates to play like champions.
"We have the best team available for the Challenge, and we had to leave
three more budding players back home because only 18 can be fielded here.'

Nightmare for Malaysia


IT was a nightmare beginning for Malaysia in the Champions Challenge as
they were greeted with one red card, one yellow and two soft goals - which
presented hosts South Africa the perfect opening match at the Randburg
Hockey Stadium yesterday.
Malaysia had a good grip of the match until Madzli Ikmar was flashed the
yellow, followed by a red card for Chua Boon Huat minutes later. And the
match was lost.
Chua received a one-match suspension and will not feature against New
Zealand today.
The Malaysians entered the pitch oozing with confidence, and after a
long spell, looked like they were going for a win.
The young forwards - Tajol Rosli, Azlan Misron and P. Prabahkaran -
ripped the South African defence apart, but good goalkeeping by Dave
Staniforth stood in their way.
After numerous pressing attacks, Malaysia took the lead from a penalty
corner in the third minute.
Skipper S. Kuhan sent a low ball, which went crashing into the net and
silenced the 1,000-odd fans.
While the forwards became bolder, Malaysia's defenders cracked under
pressure, allowing the South African strikers too much space for which and
they were punished with a penalty corner.
Justin King sent a low flick on the left of goalkeeper Roslan Jamaludin
and South Africa were back in the match.
Malaysia had 70 per cent possession in the last few minutes of the first
half but the umpire failed to check on dangerous stick-checks employed by
the South Africans, and the score remained.
After the restart, the national team kept up the pressure and got their
break in the 39th minute. But K. Gobinathan's low shot did not connect at
the other end.
The South Africans became frustrated started shoving our players around.
In the 49th minute, Charl van der Merwe was sent to the sin-bin for a bad
tackle on Madzli Ikmar and Malaysia started pressing forward more
But just as Merwe came back into the match, Madzli Ikmar was sent to the
sin-bin. South Africa were awarded with a penalty corner which was tucked
in by King for the lead.
To make matters worse, Chua Boon Huat was flashed the red card after he
lifted his stick too high, which caught the face of South Africa's Ken
Malaysia, reduced to nine players, now had a mammoth task of finding the
South Africa pulled further ahead in the 53rd minute when Emile Smith
sounded the board after a mistake by Malaysian defenders.
In the first match of the day, South Korea were held 0-0 by a fighting
New Zealand but there was an element of good news for Malaysia, who face
the Kiwis today.
The towering Kiwi penalty corner specialist Hayden Shaw was used
sparingly in the first half due to a stomach strain.
"We will field him against Malaysia today, because the strain is not too
bad. Today (yesterday) we rested him as a precautionary measure," said
In the second match, Spain beat England 3-1 to sound an early warning in
their title quest.
The Spaniards scored off a fifth minute penalty corner when Xavi Ribas
sent in a crackling flick.
But England drew level with a 12th minute penalty corner by Dave
Spain were not in a compromising mood and surged ahead with two goals in
two minutes. Ribas was on target again in a 34th minute penalty corner and
just after restart, Pol Amat sounded the board with a superb field goal
for a comfortable lead.
After the breather, Spain hammered in three more goals via Eduard Tubau
(40th, 68th) and Amat (44th).
England scored a 70th minute goal off Jerome Goudie but it made no

Malaysia.........1 South Africa....... 3
New Zealand......0 South Korea........ 0
England .........2 Spain ..............6