Friday, March 30, 2007

Kuhan ruled out of Pakistan Tests


S. KUHAN (pic) has been ruled out of the two Test matches against Pakistan
on Tuesday and Wednesday because, as predicted, he has injured his
hamsting and will need to rest for a few days.
Yesterday, the penalty corner specialist underwent an MRI scan at the
Universiti Malaya Medical Clinic and the results confirmed that he had
strained his hamstring during training.
"We will definately not field him for the two Test matches against
Pakistan because we want to give him some time to recover for the Six-
"Right now, whether he will play in the Six-Nation is also in the
balance and it all depends on Kuhan's rate of recovery in the next few
days," said national team manager Datuk R. Yogeswaran yesterday.
With the absence of Kuhan, there will be a gaping hole in the midfield
section because he was just begining to fill the position and looked very
comfortable in that role during the Champions Challenge.
Chua Boon Huat, Maninderjit Singh and Jiwa Mohan will now be relied upon
for the penalty corner goals.
"With the World Cup so close, we will not take any unnecessary risks
with such a valuable asset. Even if there is a slight doubt after Monday's
second test on Kuhan, we will not risk him for the Six-Nation," said
On Monday, National Sports Institute director Dr Ramlan Aziz will do
another test on Kuhan and in the evening he will join the trainees at the
National Hockey Stadium for some light jogging as sprinting is definately
out of the question.
But with Kuhan, one can never tell because his determination and undying
attitude towards hockey might do the trick and don't be surprised if he
plays in the Six-Nation.
In the Sydney 2000 Olympics, five minutes from the end against Holland,
the ball crashed into Kuhan's lips and the defender was motionless on the
pitch for a good 20 seconds before the medics reached him.
And when the team doctor raised his hands to call for a stretcher, the
television footage showed the doctor's upraised palm dripping with blood
from Kuhan's torn lips.
Kuhan's upper lips received stitches and his teeth were saved by the
mouth guard, which was only handed to him a day before the match. From
then on he was a doubtful starter in the Olympics as the injury was
reported to be quite serious but Kuhan surprised all with his comeback a
few days later.
So, Kuhan is down, but still not out.

Dutch in hot soup over searing KL heat


THE Dutch are not worried about their World Cup opponents, because their
fear for the searing Kuala Lumpur heat overrides everything else.
Yesterday, right after they arrived in Kuala Lumpur for the Six-Nation
on Friday involving Holland, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and
Pakistan, chief coach Joost Bellaart's first question was: "Where can I
get my hands on water. I need plenty of mineral water bottles for the
training tomorrow (today)."
And to get themselves ready for the heat in Kuala Lumpur, because it is
below freezing in Holland right now, Bellaart's plans leading to the 2002
Kuala Lumpur World Cup will include a 10-day stint in Cairo and then it is
eight days on the sunny beaches of Kuantan.
"After the Six-Nation ends on the 26th, we will head for home and
conduct a week of physical training indoors and then leave for Egypt to
get used to the heat. We will be in Cairo for 10 days and play two matches
against the Egyptian side.
"After that, we will break camp and allow the players some time to be
with their families. On Feb 14, we will arrive in Kuantan and stay there
for eight days and also play a match against Germany.
"Kuantan will be our tapering down period where the boys will be allowed
to enjoy themselves with some swimming and resting on the beach to get
mentally prepared to defend the World Cup title," said Bellaart.
Holland have also arranged for a match against Australia in the middle
of February but that is still subject to approval.
For the Six-Nation, the coach will be content if he can get his players
to play as a team.
"Of course we will be looking for good results and everybody will expect
that since we hold the World Cup and Olympic titles, but I will be more
than happy if I can get the players to play as a team and take things from

Kuhan to undergo ultrasound scan


NATIONAL Sports Institure director Dr Ramlan Aziz will conduct an
ultrasound test on S. Kuhan today to check on the extent of his hamstring
After that, he will conduct a physical workout in his clinic before
asking Kuhan to try some short sprints and exercises on Monday.
Kuhan, Malaysia's hope in penalty corner set-pieces, stretched a
hamstring on Wednesday during training and is a doubtful starter for the
two Test matches against Pakistan on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I will conduct an ultrasound test at the Universiti Malaya Medical
Centre tomorrow (today) to check the extent of his injury. We can only
decide on the next course of action after the scan," said Ramlan.
Ramlan said, from his early observation, the injury does not look too
bad but he does not want to risk anything because the World Cup is just
around the corner.
"Right now, we are rushing not only to check the extent of his injury
but also working out ways for Kuhan to keep himself physically fit during
the next few days because we do not want to disrupt his conditioning for
the World Cup," said Dr Ramlan.
Kuhan has been doing some light jogging the past two days and in the
gym, he conditions himself on the stationary bicycle.
"When he first came down with the injury, Kuhan said it was very painful
but today (yesterday) he said the pain has become less and does not
trouble him too much.
"But still, we do not want to do anything premature and aggravate his
injury, so sprinting is definately out for now," said Ramlan.
On Monday, when Kuhan will undergo some light sprinting at the National
Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, a decision will be taken on whether he can
play in the Six-Nation Tournament or not.
But the chances of Kuhan not playing in the two Test matches against
Pakistan is very high.
On Mirnawan Nawawi, who suffered a muscle tear on his calf just before
the Champions Challenge last month, Ramlan said The Boss has recovered
ahead of time and is now 100 per cent fit.
"Mirnawan has been certified fit and there is no reason for him to hold
back in the Six-Nation," said Ramlan.

Kuhan down with hamstring injury


MALAYSIA'S penalty corner specialist S. Kuhan is down with a hamstring
injury and the prospect of him playing in the two Test matches against
Pakistan on Jan 15 and 16 look bleak.
Yesterday, Kuhan watched from the stands with an ice-pack tied at the
side of his left knee while the rest of the national players trained for
the Six-Nation which begins on Jan 18 at the National Hockey Stadium in
Bukit Jalil.
"I stretched my hamstring during training on Wednesday and after
checking with Dr Ramlan Aziz (National Sports Institute director), I was
told to rest," said Kuhan yesterday.
Dr Ramlan will conduct a scan on Saturday and on Monday Kuhan will
undergo a sprints test to check the extent of his injury.
But national chief coach Paul Lissek is not optimistic about Kuhan
playing a big role in the Six-Nation.
"It does not look promising because even if he recovers a little on
Monday, a hamstring injury is very dangerous and with the World Cup just
44 days away it will be too risky to field him for the two Test matches
against Pakistan.
"From there on, I will let Dr Ramlan decide on the next course of
action," said Lissek.
With Kuhan in doubt for the Six-Nation, a spanner has been thrown in our
penalty corner set-pieces because he is the vital link to goals in that
"If he is not available, we have contigency plans to fill the midfield
position and we do have capable replacements for penalty corners. But he
does need the matches in the Six-Nation to prepare for the World Cup,"
said Lissek.
National team manager Datuk R. Yogeswaran was more optimistic about
Kuhan playing in the Six-Nation which involves Pakistan, World Cup
champions Holland, Champions Trophy runnersup Australia, Japan and New
"It is a normal injury suffered by athletes who are training for a big
event like the World Cup. Sometimes, they tend to make an extra effort in
training but end up injured instead. But I have spoken to the Dr (Ramlan)
and the initial feeling is that there is nothing serious and he will be up
and about in no time at all," said Yogeswarn.
Jiva Mohan is the other injured player who has still to recover and
yesterday, he was seen doing some light training and helping out by
pushing in the ball for his team-mates to practice attacking set-pieces.
Mirnawan Nawawi looked like he has fully recovered from the muscle tear
which he suffered becofe the Champions Challenge and was his usual self.
"Mirnawan has recovered from his injury and is looking dangerous now.
You can see that he is more confident with short sprints because the
muscle tear is now history," said Yogeswaran.

Victory dropped due to injury


SOUTH Australian striker and Sydney Olympian Craig Victory has been
dropped from the squad for the Six-Nation at the National Hockey Stadium
in Bukit Jalil on Jan 18-26 due to a stomach muscle strain and has been
replaced by striker Michael McCann.
In the entry list faxed to the Malaysian Hockey Federation yesterday,
dual Olympian Daniel Sproule was named at the expense of fellow Tasmanian
Zain Wright.
The Six-Nation presents the last opportunity for the Aussies to fine-
tune their preparations in a tournament situation, before the World Cup
begins in Kuala Lumpur Feb 24.
While Australian coach Barry Dancer considers his team to be short on
match practice, he believes that participation at this tournament will
ensure the Kookaburras are well prepared for the World Cup next month.
"It is a valuable opportunity for us to play in the conditions that we
will find at the World Cup and against some of our World Cup opposition
teams including Japan and Malaysia who are in the same group as us in the
World Cup," Dancer said at the Australian hockey website.
"We will work on many of our strategies to get us better prepared for
the World Cup, and significantly we will be looking to improve from our
Champions Trophy performance by sustaining our intensity during crucial
periods in the humid conditions," said Dancer.
In the Champions Trophy, Australia finished second behind Germany after
losing 2-1 in the final. Florian Kunz, the top-scorer in the Champions
Trophy scored both goals while Matthew Smith slotted in Australia's goal.
"We will also be able to determine our best combination of players
before we make the final selections for the World Cup," Dancer said.
The Kookaburras will arrive in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday and Dancer is
expected to name the World Cup team on Jan 30.
After the Six-Nation, Australia will attend a training camp in Perth on
Feb 13 and 14 to complete the preparations for the World Cup.
Australian training squad - Dean Butler, Adam Commens, Liam De Young,
Lachlan Dreher, Jamie Dwyer, Troy Elder, Paul Gaudoin (capt), Bevan
George, Mark Hickman, Jeremy Hiskins, Aaron Hopkins, Brent Livermore,
Michael McCann, Matthew Smith, Daniel Sproule, Ben Taylor, Scott Webster,
Matthew Wells.

Concorde named official hotel


CONCORDE Hotel was yesterday appointed as the official hotel for the 2002
Kuala Lumpur World Cup which will be held at the National Hockey Stadium
in Bukit Jalil on Feb 24 to March 9.
In 1975, the Malaysian team were housed in Merlin, and in 2002, they
will stay at the same location because Merlin has been renamed to Concorde
Merlin `the magician' took Malaysia to the best ever fourth finish in
the World Cup and it is hoped that Concorde will "fly" it to greater
All 16 teams for the World Cup and hockey officials will stay at the
hotel in Kuala Lumpur and the Malaysia Hockey Federation (MHF), as
stipulated in the bid paper for the World Cup, will pay for the
"The MHF will pay for accommodation for all the teams because it is part
of the agreement in our bid paper for the World Cup, but the teams will
pay for their own food," said MHF deputy president Tan Sri P. Alagendra
after the signing ceremony yesterday.
Concorde was represented by Datuk Syed Yusoff Tun Syed Nasir, director
of Ampang Hotel Sdn Bhd, and Gary Lee, the General Manager of Concorde
Hotel Kuala Lumpur.
"Having hosted previous international hockey tournaments in the past
seven years, with the last tournament being the First Men's Champions
Challenge which was successfully put together in four weeks, we know of no
other organisation that is more familiar with the requirements that are
needed by hockey players," said Lee.
Concorde will also open their gym for the World Cup players so that they
do not have to go far to keep fit during rest days.
"Each team will be given 11 rooms and it is up to them to utilise it in
whatever way they want. We will also have a special room for teams to do
their homework like watching the opponents play on video," said Lee.

Lissek returns to minefield of problems


NATIONAL chief coach Paul Lissek returned from Germany after a short
holiday and came face-to-face with a string of problems on his first day
of training for the Six-Nation on Jan 18-26.
First, the pitch at the main hockey stadium in Bukit Jalil was dry as a
bone because the person entrusted to water the pitch was not around during
the morning traning session.
The national trainees had to do some light workout instead and in the
evening, Lissek had to deal with players who are still not ready and
"Amin Rahim and Redzuan Ponirin are stil attending classes while S.
Shanker, Mirnawan Nawawi and Maninderjit Singh have yet to get leave from
their employers," said Lissek.
And according to Lissek, The Boss is definitely not ready for the World
Cup, yet.
"He could not follow the regular training and has been sent to the gym
for a light workout. I have yet to find out how much he has recovered from
the calf injury that he suffered befor the Champions Challenge, but he is
definitely not ready for the World Cup yet" said Lissek.
The German said up till Monday, only 15 players are ready for the World
Cup with S. Kuhan being the player who has transformed amazingly after a
poor outing in the Azlan Shah Cup in August where Malaysia finished at the
bottom of the table.
"Kuhan has improved tremendously and that is good news because we missed
far too many penalty corners during the Champions Challenge. Now that he
is looking fit and more comfortable with the ball, I hope the penalty
corner conversion rate in the Six-Nation will be much better," said
The first two hurdles for Malaysia will be the Test matches against
Pakistan on Jan 15 and 16 where Sohail Abbas, among the best penalty
corner specialist in the world today, will test our defenders with his
powerful drag flicks.
On Shahbaz Ahmad, 35, who returned to hockey after three yers in the
wilderness, Lissek was not impressed with what he saw of the once feared
striker during the Champions Trophy where Pakistan finished fourth.
"Shahbaz looked a little unfit during the Champions Trophy but that may
be because he received a last minute call-up.
"But he has had time to build on his fitness since and in the Six-Nation
he might prove deadly. We will have to wait and see," said Lissek.

Jolly `Kiwi' giant Shaw returning to haunt Malaysia


REMEMBER Hayden Shaw, the 6'5" giant from New Zealand?
For those who have forgotten, he single handedly distroyed any hope
Malaysia had of making good in the Junior World Cup in Hobart, Tasmania in
And he has been named to haunt Malaysia in the Six-Nation on Jan 18-26
at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Malaysia played one of their best matches against New Zealand in the
first round of the Junior World Cup and there were fireworks as the burly
Kiwi defender dismantled Malaysia.
The match ended in a 3-2 defeat for Malaysia but enroute, Malaysian
skipper Chua Boon Huat received a yellow card, Jiva Mohan received a knock
on his head from Shaw and brother Jiwa was also yellow carded for getting
into a shoving match with the Kiwi giant.
Chua verbally abused the match umpire after the match and was suspended
for the next match against Argentina.
It was downhill for Malaysia after that and they never recovered and
lost 5-0 to Argentina the next day.
Chua and Jiwa are in the Malaysian squad and it will be interesting to
see how they handle the Kiwi this time around.
Midfielder Ryan Archibald, who skippered the New Zealand Junior World
Cup team, is also in the squad and he will be a joy to watch.
Other than Shaw, Peter Stafford is the other newcomer to the senior
Making a return to the team is England based Ken Robinson who last
played for New Zealand in the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
However, three players who played in the World Cup qualifiers at
Edinburgh were dropped.
They are Dean Couzins and Alpesh Puna while another player, Wayne
McIndoe, was unavailable for selection.
The New Zealand squad for the Six-Nation isn't the World Cup squad.
The final composition of the World Cup team will come from an extended
squad of 24, which includes Dean Couzins, Alpesh Puna, Dharmesh Puna,
Casey Henwood, Gareth Brooks and Lloyd Stephenson.
New Zealand: Ryan Archibald, Dion Gosling, Bevan Hari, Brett Leaver, Ken
Robinson, Simon Towns (capt), Paul Woolford, Michael Bevin, Hayden Shaw,
Peter Stafford, Hymie Gill, David Kosoof, Darren Smith, Blair Hopping,
Phillip Burrows, Umesh Parag, Mitesh Patel.

MHF steps up World Cup promotions


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) claims it has been holding back the
promotions for the Kuala Lumpur World Cup because of the year-end
MHF deputy president Tan Sri P. Alagendra said yesterday that from now
on, the promotions will go into high gear with numerous activities planned
uutil Feb 24.
"We have been holding back because the streets of Kuala Lumpur were
plastered with Hari Raya and Christmas celebration banners and `box
lights' yesterday, we had a discussion with City Hall and have been given
the greenlight to put up posters and banners for the World Cup," said
The World Cup is 46 days away but not many Malaysians know that it is
making a comeback to Kuala Lumpur after 27 years.
It is also understood MHF is negotiating with several transport
companies to give discounted rates for fans during the World Cup which
will be held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
"From now on, publicity will be the main feature in our plans as we have
directed all our state representatives to make sure that not only Kuala
Lumpur gets enveloped in World Cup fever, but the whole of Malaysia as
well," said Alagendra.
On the disappointing ticket sales, Alagendra said a more aggresive
marketing strategy will be adopted.
He also revealed that AFFINBANK now holds 50 percent of the World Cup
tickets while 10 percent has been sold. This means only 40 percent is
available for the public.
"Under the 40 per cent discount programme (which ended on Jan 5), MHF
had allocated 60 percent of the tickets for Malaysians. But since only 10
per cent were sold, AFFINBANK bought the remaining 50 per cent and will
offer it to its account holders.
"AFFINBANK will not make a single sen as this is a goodwill gesture as
they have pledged that the stadium is filled during the World Cup."
Alagendra also said that Nestle will distribute 200 tickets per-day to
"Nestle has bought the tickets and with the help of the National Sports
Council, they will distribute it at certain hockey placing schools in
Malaysia so that 200 students can watch the World Cup every day. In this
way, the World Cup will also be promoted at the grassroots."
MHF said the number of temporary seats at the stadium would be increased
from 3,000 to 5,000.
"We did a study and the contractor told us that he can fit in 5,000
extra seats at the main stadium and we have agreed because it will allow
more fans to watch the World Cup," said MHF secretary S. Satgunam.
The seating capacity of the main stadium now is 12,000 and with the
addition, 17,000 fans can be expected during the semifinals and final of
the World Cup.

Discounted tickets'deadline not extended


AFFINBANK, the biggers sponsors for the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup to
date, has come in generously to `buy' the unsold tickets under the 40 per
cent discount package for Malaysians.
Which means that they now have the sole right to do whatever they decide
with the allocation while the public will have to buy tickets under normal
rates from Axcess Tickets.
Which means the cheapest ticket to watch one World Cup match, behind
both the goalposts, will be RM25.
Malaysia Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary S. Satgunam said yesterday
that when the tickets went on sale more than a month ago, MHF set aside a
certain target to be reached for local fans under the discounted price,
but failed to reach it at the closing date of Jan 5.
"We wanted as many local fans to benefit from the discounted prices but
the offer received a lukewarm response. So today we decided to hand over
the allocation to AFFINBANK and they will now decide what to do with the
tickets," said Satgunam yesterday.
An AFFINBANK representative, who declined to be named, said the initial
plan was to distribute the World Cup tickets to their account holders at
their more than 90 branches nationwide.
"We will decide what to do with the tickets on Wednesday after we hold
another meeting with the MHF, but right now, the plan is to distribute it
among our account holders so that Malaysians will fill the stadiums when
the World Cup begins in February," said the AFFINBANK representative.
Satgunam had earlier blamed poor access to the ticketing company, Axcess
Tickets, for the slow sales in tickets and said that MHF had realised that
they have been going about the wrong way to promote the World Cup. That is
why they held a meeting yesterday to change their strategy and make the
World Cup a sporting success.
The process of booking tickets for the World Cup by phone and internet
is just too tedious, and most of the time, the Axcess Tickets hotline is
not available and, as of Jan 2, Axcess Tickets have changed the number of
their hotline as the previous number was faulty.
The generous 40 per cent discount on tickets for local fans for the
World Cup ended with hardly any takers because only 10 per cent from the
maximum of 312,000 tickets that can be sold for the 13 day event have been
booked by both local and foreign fans.
Which means that only 31,200 tickets have been booked with the World Cup
just 47 days away.
AFFINBANK came in with an RM1 million sponsorship pledge earlier, and
now they have come in again to bail out the biggest sporting event for
hockey so that it becomes a national pride and not a sick joke.
When AFFINBANK Chairman, Jen (B) Tan Sri Dato Zain Hashim announced the
sponsorship, he said: "AFFINBANK's sponsorship of RM1 million towards the
World Cup is more than a mere show of support. We would like to think that
our role goes deeper than the World Cup. It is a deep-rooted feeling of
responsibility towards the development of the sports in this country. We
realise the value of sporting excellence to the country, be it as a
sporting nation or as a world-class sporting event organiser."
And he stood by his pledge yesterday.

Stronger Pakistan


THE Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) yesterday named their squad for the
Six-Nation on Jan 18-26 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil with
four changes from the team which finished fourth in the recent Champions
Trophy in Rotterdam.
The team was announced by PHF secretary Brig Mussratullah Khan after the
conclusion of a two-day trial on Friday and Saturday.
Shahbaz Ahmed, 35, one of Pakistan's finest players ever, made a return
to hockey after a hiatus of three years in the Champions Trophy and
impressed the selectors enough to include him for the Six-Nation.
His inclusion in the warm-up to the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup also
means that he is in the running to make an appearance in Kuala Lumpur
again on Feb 24 to March 9.
Two changes were made due to fitness and injury problems. Strikers Atif
Bashir and Mohammad Nadeem, who are injured, have been replaced by Saleem
Khalid and Ghazanfar Ali, respectively.
At the halfline, Imran Rasool failed to get the nod of the selectors and
was replaced by Imran Yousaf. Another change was Sameer Husain replacing
striker Navid Iqbal.
Atif Bashir broke his collar-bone in the Champions Trophy while Mohammad
Nadeem fractured his finger during the training camp from which the team
was selected.
It was also learnt that selectors turned down the suggestion of captain
Mohammad Sarwar to include Mohammad Nadeem in the team for the Six-Nation
because the extent of his fracture is still not known and he could recover
in time for Pakistan's opening match against World Cup champions Holland
on Jan 18.
The team will leave for Malaysia either on Jan 13 or 14 and play two
Test matches against the national side on Jan 15 and 16 at the National
Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Pakistan will again rely heavily on penalty corner specialist Sohail who
finished second behind Florian Kunz of Germany, on goal tally, in the
Champions Trophy.
Sohail scored eight goals in the Champions Trophy and was in the running
for the top scorer's award but Kunz scored two goals against Australia in
the final which took his tally to 10 goals in Rotterdam.
Sohail has, almost single-handedly, saved pakistan from the brink of
disaster as they were conceding all their international and regional
titles one by one.
The soft-spoken drag flicker, Sohail, rose on the horizon of Pakistan
hockey at the time when the team was almost collapsing and as Shahbaz
Ahmed, an outstanding striker, faded - many pundits lost hope in the game
in Pakistan.
Three-time Olympic champions, Pakistan, entered the 12-nation qualifying
rounds for the Sydney Olympics with drooping heads, but Sohail made sure
they played in the Olympics again by scoring all four goals in a crucial
match against Spain.
His Herculean achievements were acknowledged by the International Hockey
Federation (FIH) by nominating him for the FIH International Player of the
Year award for two consecutive years, 1999 and 2000.
Special attention is being paid by a panel of coaches including Hanif
Khan, Shahbaz Senior and K.M. Junaid to improve Sohail's skills by trying
out different drills and methods which will be on display during the Six-
Nation in Kuala Lumpur.
Pakistan - goalkeepers: Muhammad Qasim and Salman Akbar; fullbacks:
Tariq Imran, Sohail Abbas and Ali Raza; halfbacks: Muhammad Usman,
Muhammad Saqlain, Waseem Ahmed, Ghazanfar Ali, Imran Yousaf and Dilawar
Forwards: Sameer Hussain, Mudassar Khan, Muhammad Sarwar (Captain),
Kashif Jawwad, Shahbaz Ahmed, Saleem Khalid and Shabbir Ahmad.

Lotto title sponsors for Ironman Langkawi


LOTTO yesterday became the title sponsors for Ironman Langkawi Malaysia
with a sponsorship pledge of RM500,000.
The Ironman Langkawi Malaysia on Jan 27 will see the participation of
about 400 triathletes from all over the world and Langkawi Ironman
Endurance Marathon Sdn Bhd (Liem), the organisers of the event, are hoping
for more funds to make it bigger.
"We have enough sponsors for the moment but to make it a bigger and
better event in future, we will definately need more funding," said Liem
director Datuk Sri Ram Sharma yesterday.
The Cabinet have approved RM15 million for extreme sports but the
organisers of the Ironman are still in the dark if they come under the
category and are eligible for funds from the Sports Ministry.
"We have yet to receive any news from the Sports Ministry on the matter
but we hope that they will onsider funding the Ironman Langkawi Malaysia
because it is an event that promotes healthy living and receives worldwide
media attention," said Sri Ram.
Lotto were represented by sports zone chairman Datuk Aini Taib who said
it was a milestone for them.
"We (lotto) are more popularly known in soccer so today (yesterday) we
are atually breaking into new ground in Malaysia and hope our relationship
with the endurance sport will be a lasting one," said Aini.
Yesterday, volunteers who will help stage the eent in Langkawi attended
their first briefing.
"We have receied applcations from 800 volunteers to help us organise the
event in Langkawi. We have accepted all of them beause they will play an
important role in making sure the event runs smoothly," said Sri Ram.
The men's defending champion Bryan Rhodes from New Zealand and the
women's champion Belinda Cheney from Australia have confirmed
participation for the event which will include swimming (3.8km) cycling
(180.2km) and marathon (42.2km).

MHF considering extension of ticket discount promotion


WHEN Malaysia won the bid to host the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup, the
strong point which swayed the votes in our favour was crowd support.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) took into consideration that
hockey has a strong support base in Malaysia, and when FIH president Els
van Breda Vriesman came to Malaysia during the recent Champions Challenge
held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, she was confident that
when the World Cup begins on Feb 24 and the event is broadcast on
television, there will not be many empty seats in the stadium.
When met in Hobart, Tasmania during the Junior World Cup, she said:
"Although hockey will always remain in the shadows of soccer, tennis,
golf, cricket and rugby as far as fan support and television coverage is
concerned, I am determined to make it a more people and budget friendly
Wise words from a woman who is a lawyer by profession.
But with 48 days to the World Cup, the situation still looks bleak as
far as ticket sales for hockey's most prestigeous event is concerned.
The 40 per cent discount offered to Malaysian's has been extended twice
but still there were hardly any takers. Now, after the Jan 5 deadline for
40 per cent discount came and went without any increase in local sales,
the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) are pondering whether to extend the
date of promotion.
Since the launch of tickets sales more than a month ago, only 10 per
cent has been booked by local and overseas hockey fans.
MHF will hold a meeting today to discuss on the matter as according to
MHF secretary S. Satgunam, they did set aside a certain percentage of
tickets for locals during the discount period but never even came close to
the target.
He did not reveal what was the target for local fans, but surely, MHF
would not want to see more foreign than local fans at the stadium when the
World Cup is beamed across the world.
Many fans have called Timesport saying that instead of increasing the
duration of the 40 per cent discount for another few days, why not just
reduce the prices for local fans.
Right now, with the 40 per cent discount, the cheapest tickets are
priced at RM15 per-match (behind both the goalposts) and it is a price
which is affordable to most Malaysians as most companies, due to the
economic slowdown, have yet to pay or did not pay their employees the much
needed year-end bonuses.
Should the MHF decide not to extend the discount period the cheapest
tickets per-match is RM25.
Hockey in Malaysia received a luke-warm response this year judging from
attendance during the Azlan Shah Cup in August and the Champions Challenge
where some matches only drew 200 fans though the ticket prices were quite
The MHF, after making a loss in the Champions Challenge due to poor gate
collections (tickets were priced RM3 and RM5) have increased the price to
RM5 and RM10 for the Six-Nation on Jan 18 to 26.
The Six-Nation involving Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia,
Pakistan and World Cup defending champions Holland is viewed as a prelude
for the World Cup and when it begins, MHF will know for sure what the fan
support would be like then.
Today's meeting will also discuss ways to increase promotions for the
World Cup, which many see as non-existant.
A hockey fan from Penang suggested: "MHF and Post Malaysia recently
released the World Cup commemorative stamps and I read that they will be
sold at all the 667 post offices nationwide. Why not MHF get the help of
Post Malaysia to display posters and pamplets of the event at all their
branches because as the public queue-up to pay their bills, they normally
read what is displayed at the notice boards," said Mohamed Salim.

MHF changes Cup promotion strategy


AFTER reading Timesport's street poll on Friday, the Malaysian Hockey
Ferderation (MHF) realised that they have been using a wrong strategy to
promote the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup which will be held on Feb 24 to
March 9 at the Bukit Jalil Hockey Stadium.
The poll found out that a majority of Malaysians do not know that the
event will be held in Malaysia, and those who knew, lamented on how
difficult it is to get their hands on a ticket.
An MHF official, who declined to be named, said the poll has `opened
their eyes': "With 50 days left to the World Cup (on Saturday) the
promotions for the World Cup should have been in full swing by now. But it
is still not too late, as a meeting was hastily called yesterday to put up
banners and posters on the event."
MHF secretary S. Satgunam blamed poor access to the ticketing company,
Axcess Tickets, for the slow sales in tickets.
"We have realised that we have been going about the wrong way to promote
the World Cup. So we will have to change our strategy to make it the best
ever," said Satgunam.
The public have called in and E-mailed Timesport saying that the process
of booking tickets for the World Cup by phone and internet is just too
tedious, and most of the time, the Axcess Tickets hotline is not
As of Jan 2, Axcess Tickets have changed the number of their hotline to
03-74919999 as the previous number was faulty.
The generous 40 per cent discount on tickets for local fans for the
World Cup ended yesterday but there were hardly any takers.
After being on sale for more than a month, only 10 per cent from the
maximum of 312,000 tickets that can be sold for the 13 day event have been
booked by both local and foreign fans.
Which means that only 31,200 tickets have been booked with the World Cup
just 49 days away. And if a 50-50 ratio on foreign and local is taken,
only 15,600 Malaysians have made a booking to watch 16 of the world's best
countries in action for 13 days.
It is a real shame because the number of tickets bought by Malaysians so
far can't even fill the main stadium in Bukit Jalil, which has a capacity
of 18,000, for one match.
"For a start, we will have a ticketing booth at the official hotel,
Concord Kuala Lumpur, where the public can book as well as purchase
tickets. More than that I cannot reveal now because there will be a
meeting to formulate more plans to sell tickets and promote the event on
Monday," said Satgunam.
The meeting tomorrow will also discuss wheather the MHF should extend
the 40 per cent discount period further.

What, World Cup in 50 days?


THE 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup is just around the corner, but for hockey
fans who were approached by Timesport yesterday, the event might as well
be held on planet Pluto and in the year 2020.
With 50 days left, some of the fans Timesport approached were shocked
when told that tickets for hockey's most prestigious event went on sale
more than a month ago.
Jagjit Singh, 54, a businessman from Penang who was down in Kuala Lumpur
for a meeting, was shocked when approached.
"Fifty days more to the World Cup you said? Well I have yet to come
accross any advertisements, posters or banners to tell me where I am
supposed to get the tickets from. Promotions are non-existent in Penang.
"I don't even feel the atmosphere that is supposed to be associated with
such a big event. During the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, I remember
that three months from the World Cup the entire country almost came to a
standstill because everybody was talking about it and anxious for ther big
day to arrive.
"I travelled with a group of friends from Penang to Kuala Lumpur and we
had a great time watching Malaysia play in the semifinals and then India
beating Pakistan in the final," said Jagjit.
Angela Wong, 28, from Sarawak and down in Kuala Lumpur for work, did not
even know that the World Cup was going to be held in Kuala Lumpur.
"I never knew that the hockey World Cup was going to be held in
Bukit Jalil. Although I am not a hockey fan, I would still like to go and
watch a few matches because it is the World Cup.
"Now that I know, I will tell all my friends so that we can go in a
group and cheer the Malaysian side. Anyway, where can we book the tickets
from? And when it it starting?," asked Angela.
Ng Wai Jin, 25 and Kok Wai Wah, 24, had more questions to ask about the
World Cup.
"We watched hockey during the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games and
it was such an interesting semifinal where Malaysia beat India. But we are
still in the dark about the World Cup. Do you have the contact number of
the company selling the tickets?
"Anyway, we have yet to come across any advertisements in television,
radio or print media indicating that such a big event is going to take
place in Malaysia," said Ng and Kok.
R. Sathiya, 25, who just found out yesterday that the World Cup was on
Feb 24 to March 9 said: "How come the organisers are not selling tickets
at shopping complexes? That way, I am sure even those who are not really
interested in hockey will also buy tickets for a few matches because they
want to feel the atmosphere of a World Cup."
Alice Voon, 33, Albert Wong, 24, Catherine James, 25, M. Marren and his
Japanese wife Koyogo Marren and businesswoman Raja Endah, 47, were also
preplexed on why the organisers are still holding back on the promotions.
Raja Endah summarised their feeling when she said: "I hope the
promotions for the World Cup will begin soon because I know that none of
my friends are aware that such a big event is going to be held in Kuala
"I am sure that when they come to know about it, they will not mind
going to the stadium and watch selected matches, if not for the action,
just to feel what it is like to be in a stadium during the World Cup. We
did that during the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games eventhough some of
them never followed any sport.
"The World Cup is coming back to Malaysia after 27 years, who knows if
it is ever going to be staged on Malaysian soil again. So I will
definitely not miss the chance, now that I know about it," said Raja

Liaw defeats Lindsay for singles title


SEA Games silver medallist Liaw Chen Yee beat Lindsay for the under-18
singles crown in the first leg of the SportExcel-MSN-Milo tennis at the
Jalan Duta courts yesterday.
Liaw then partnered Lindsay for the doubles gold.
No, it was not Lindsay Davenport, but Lindsay Woon. But watch out for
16-year-old Liaw because she has big plans, and is heading in the right
Liaw, who just scored 7As in the recent PMR examinations, hopes to
become as famous as her idol, Steffi Graf.
"Last year, I won the SportExcel Grand Finals and I am gunning for a
back-to-back win this year," said Liaw who is eying the Fed Cup in China
in March.
Back home, she wants to better her one gold (team), one silver (mixed-
doubles) and one bronze (singles) feat that she notched at the Penang
Malaysia Games.
"I will be competing in all three events again in the Sabah Malaysia
Games in September and hopefully, win three gold medals for Selangor this
time," said Liaw.
Results (all finals) - Boys' Under-10 singles: Razmee Rawi bt Marcus
Chee 6-2, 7-6 (5); Under-12: S. Suresh bt Mak Pee 7-5, 6-2; Under-14:
Razlan Rawi bt Kevin Lee 5-7, 6-2, 6-2; Under-16: M. Nizar bt Danny Chong
5-7, 6-2, 6-3; Under-18: Law Tzud Hann bt Roger Tan 6-1, 6-1.
Doubles - Under-10: Terence Lim-Christian Lee bt Tan E. Zhou-Marcus Chee
6-3, 5-6 (2) 6-1; Under-12: S. Suresh-Mark Pee bt Mohamed Razim Ismail-
Johan Ariff 6-3, 6-2; Under-14: Melvin Mah-Razaln Rawi bt Gi Ci Loong-
Mohamed Mujahid 3-6, 7-5, 6-4; Under-16: Dennis Wong-Kelvin bt Chan Kek
Loon-Mohamed Nizar 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-3; Under-18: Roger Tan-Law Tzud Hann bt
Lee Ee Joe-Chuah Jo Vin 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Girls' Under-18 singles: Liaw Chen Yee bt Lindsay Woon 7-5, 6-1.
Under-18 doubles: Champions - Lindsay Woon-Liaw Chen Yee; runners-up:
Yeap-Sze Pheh-K. Logeswary.

Please wait ... it's coming soon!


WITH 51 days left to the Kuala Lumpur World Cup, `coming soon' ... seems
to be the key word.
But the Malaysia Hockey Federation (MHF) should not be blamed because
they might have been lulled into complacency as they honestly believe that
there is no urgency to market the World Cup, yet.
Somebody seems to be sleeping on the job as far as promotions for
hockey's most prestigious event is concerned because the World Cup
commemorative stamps were launched on Wednesday morning but a check at the
official website 30 hours later under the
`launch of commemorative stamps' icon, greeted the internet surfer with
`coming soon'.
While Malaysia are striving to become the hub of the multimedia centre,
information on the World Cup is being held back for reasons only known to
Posters of the World Cup are up on the website but not a single one is
on display at the National Hockey Stadium or along the roads leading to
the official hotel where all the teams will be staying for the duration of
the World Cup.
Kuala Lumpur has yet to be enveloped by the World Cup fever because not
a single sign has been placed along the roadside to indicate that the
World Cup is just 51 days away.
Renovations to increase the seating capacity of both the pitches at the
National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil are also yet to begin.
Initially, MHF disclosed that the main stadium, which has a fully-
covered seating capacity of 15,000, will be fitted with an additional
3,000 temporary seats while the second stadium will accommodate 5,800
spectators with an additional 2,800 temporary seats.
"I have no idea when work to increase the seating capacity at both the
stadiums will begin because it is under the Sports Ministry," said MHF
secretary S. Satgunam yesterday.
Ticket sales also seems to be a highly guarded secret because when the
company entrusted to sell the World Cup tickets, Axcess Tickets, were
contacted yesterday, they decline to reveal the number of tickets sold
after more than a month going on sale.
"We will not reveal any information on the sale of tickets because that
is the job of the MHF. Please call them if you need more information,"
said Axcess director Alan Johnson.
When Timesport contacted Satgunam, he was surprised with the response.
"We (MHF) do not have the figures because the sales are being done by
Axcess Tickets. I don't understand why they are refusing to reveal how
many tickets have been sold so far because MHF has no objections on making
the matter public," said Satgunam.
Since the tickets went on sale, the 40 per cent discount offered to
Malaysians has been extended because of lukewarm response from the local
fans as the first deadline of Dec 31 approached.
The 40 per cent discount was also extended until Jan 5 because the
public complained that they had difficulty getting through the ticket
hotline managed by Axcess Tickets.

`Sluggish' trainees check into camp


THE 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup trainees checked into camp yesterday after
a two-week festival break, and they looked a little sluggish.
Stephen van Huizen, in charge because Paul Lissek is still in Germany on
holiday, said some of his charges were a little sluggish, but he plans to
whip them back into shape in two week's time.
"It is only natural that they look a little tired after a long break,
but there is nothing to worry about because they were given a fitness
programme for the holidays, and from what I can see today (yesterday),
they did their homework.
"Training on your own is different but now that they are back in camp, I
am confident that they will get the rhythm back in two week's time," said
Only four players did not check into camp yesterday but all of them had
valid reasons.
"K. Logan Raj is not feeling well and produced a Medical Certificate,
Jiwan Mohan still has some loose ends to tie up and Saiful Azli requested
for two more days because his wife just delivered a baby. The other
absentee today (yesterday) is Redzuan Ponirin who is still attending
"I am very happy with the turnout today (yesterday) because it showed
that they are committed towards the World Cup," said Stephen.
Mirnawan Nawawi was back to his normal self and there was no indication
that he was still troubled by the muscle tear on his left calf which he
suffered before the Champions Challenge in December.
While Stephen is in charge (Lisek is only coming back on Sunday) he is
going to concentrate on fitness and short corner set-pieces.
"We will have to work on the short corners because we missed too many in
the Champions Challenge. I have watched the team in action on video and
identified their weaknesses in short corners and Stephen will be working
to overcome the shortcoming," said national team manager Datuk R.
The team will know where they stand when the Six-Nation, involving
Holland, Pakistan, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and Malaysia, begins on
Jan 18.
"The Six-Nation will be like a warm-up before the World Cup and after
facing some of the big names in hockey, the boys should be ready to face a
gruelling World Cup in February," said Yogeswaran.

Timesport's 2002 wish list


Hockey: I HOPE the Malaysian team will win gold, but the reality is thatthe best they can finish in the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup is fourth asthe odds are stacked as high as Mount Everest.

TONY FRANCIS (Assistant Editor)
TO be able to name the starting 11 of the national soccer team.

Olympic Council of Malaysia: THE Olympic Council of Malaysia strictly
enforces the "on merit" selection policy for the Asian Games and
Commonwealth Games.
National Sports Council: THE National Sports Council steers clear of
controversies and its officers concentrate on helping develop sports
rather than getting involved in disputes with associations.
Soccer: SOCCER convinces the Olympic Council of Malaysia to give it a
ticket and it goes on to win Asian Games gold in Pusan, South Korea.
Taekwondo: WINS at least one Asian Games gold medal to redeem for the
below average performance in the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games.
Overall: MALAYSIA wins double figure gold medals in the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

Cycling: WHILE Josiah Ng develops into a world class rider, it is time
for MNCF to establish an effective system which can produce a wider base
of riders so that many more talented cyclists like him can be unearthed in
the country.
Formula One: IT will unfair to wish for a world title but it's sensible
to hope that Alex Yoong won't crash his Minardi in his maiden season. And
though it may be too much to ask, it'll be a huge morale booster should
Yoong avoid being lapped by the much faster Ferraris, McLarens or
Bowling: AS bowling seldom lets Malaysia down, the sport should better
its two-gold haul from the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games in Pusan. They
definitely have to bring more than the one bronze they managed in Bangkok
four years ago.

Badminton: MALAYSIA wins the Thomas Cup and a gold medal in the Asian Games.
Squash: ONG Beng Hee breaks into the world's top three and wins Super
Series tournaments while Nicol David breaks into the
top five as she has the ability to become one. Also, SRAM should
concentrate on development rather than depending too much on Ong and
Tennis: LTA of Malaysia (LTAM), players and officials should stop
bickering and make a genuine attempt to bridge the gap with their
Southeast Asian rivals Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines.
Golf: FOR the Malaysian Professional Golf Association (MPGA) to stay
true to its word by helping local pros to play in overseas circuits and
Karate: THE Malaysian Karate-do Federation (Makaf) includes more juniors
for full-time centralised training at the National Sports Institute (NSI).
Aquatics: THE Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (Asum) desperately
needs to work closer with its State affiliates to blood more swimmers for
the national team.
Gymnastics: FOR the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation (MGF) and the
National Sports Council (NSC) to make gymnastics for all, promoting new
disciplines such as sports aerobics and trampoline.
Basketball: THE Malaysian Basketball Association (Maba) resumes the
Malaysian Basketball League (MBL) which was not held last year.

Athletics: THE Malaysian AAU stops blaming other parties for its
failures and takes charge of athletics in the country. It is also time for
MAAU to be financially independent and stop depending on the National
Sports Council for financial aid.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Suryani best bet for Manchester


NUR SURYANI Taibi of Perak, 19, shot down her first gold in the Tun Haniff
Trophy at the Subang Shooting Range yesterday.
Although her grand total of 489.1 points in the air rifle is still far
off Nurul Hudda Baharin's national record of 496.7 done in February this
year, Suryani is almost a certain bet for the Manchester Commonwealth
Games next year.
The Tun Haniff Cup is part of the selection process for the Commonwealth
Games and there will be three more local tournaments next year for Suryani
to consolidate her position in the Commonwealth Games squad.
Air rifle record holder Nurul could only manage a poor 476.7 points
yesterday and she finished eighth in the event.
At the Tun Tan Siew Sin Trophy and the SportExcel-NSC-NSAM-JSA Junior
championships at the Subang Shooting Range recently, Suryani bagged a
total of seven gold medals and a smallbore rifle three position record
with 566 points. The old mark of 565 was done by Lim I Vern of Selangor in
April this year.
Yesterday, top-notch shooter Irina Maharani from Selangor also failed to
shine as she was pipped to the sport pistol gold by Sarawak shooter
Bibiana Ng.
Bibiana fired a grand total of 671.8 points while Irina had 671.6.
However, Irina's national record of 679.5 done in April last year still
In the men's event, Mohamed Imran Zakaria of Armed Forces is slowly
getting back into form as he fired 682.4 for gold in the air rifle. But he
is still far off the national mark of 692.3 done by Abdul Mutalib Razak in
RESULTS: Men - Free Pistol Individual: 1 Baharuddin Hashim (Kel)
620.6pts, 2 Mohamed Hashim Desa (Police) 614.8, 3 Mohamed Rahimi Yassin
(Armed Forces) 609.4.
Free Pistol Team: 1 Police 1,539 points (Mohamed Hashim Desa 527, Abdul
Rahim Rajuli 506, Marzuki Man 506); 2 Kelantan 1,511 (Baharuddin Hashim
529, Wan Abdul Rahman 493, Zakaria Ishak 489); 3 Armed Forces 1,496
(Rahimi Yassin 523, Alais Neek Sulong 489, Norazhar Mat Nawi 484).
Air Rifle Individual: 1 Mohamed Emran Zakaria 682.4, 2 Mohamed Zainul
Akmal Azmi (Kel) 681.4, 3 Mohamed Hameleay Mutalib (Sel) 679.8.
Air Rifle Team: 1 Armed Forces 1,734 (Emran Zakaria 585, Azahari
Abdullah 576, Mohamed Sabiki Din 573); 2 Selangor 1,727 (Hameleay Mutalib
580, Ivan Jayavenkatesh Rao 578, Wang Wen Chuen 569); 3 Kelantan 1,707
(Mohamed Zainul Akmal Azmi 582, Khairulnizam Sidek 569, Asri Mohamed 556).
Women - Air Rifle Individual: 1 Nur Suryani Taibi (Pk) 489.1, 2 Lim I
Vern (Sel) 485.5, 3 Joanne Ng Sook ee (Sel) 483.6.
Air Rifle Team: 1 Selangor 1,141 (Lim I Vern 388, Mashita Ramli 382,
Norhidayah Ramli 371); 2 Police 1,140 (Nur Ain Chew Abdullah 384, Nurul
Hudda Baharin 378, Asmayuzie Mat Amin 378); 3 Perak 1,133 (Nur Suryani
Mohamed Taibi 388, Nur Husna Sharuddin 377, Nik Nur Amir Mat Taha 368).
Sport Pistol Individual: 1 Bibiana Ng (Sar) 671.8, 2 Irina Maharani
(sel) 671.6, 3 Kamisah Abdul Jalal (Police) 661.1.
Sport Pistol Team: 1 Kelantan 1,658 (Norshita Mohamed 567, Rohayu Yusof
549, Suzana Mohamed 542); 2 Police 1,630 (Kamisah Abdul Jalal 561,
Rohayati Mohamed 547, Norazlina Abdul Manan 522); 3 Perak 1,622 (Leong Wai
Si 542, Noor Asmah Ishak 540, Nur Fatihah Zolkefie 540).

Women take the lion's share


THE National Shooting Association of Malaysia (NSAM) surpassed their four-
gold target for the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games, but that does not mean they
had a great year.
They need to do something, fast, because the men have been firing blanks
and it is their women shooters who have been doing well at the range.
Though the team had exceeded the target set by the National Sports
Council (NSC) by winning six gold medals in the Sea Games, five came from
the women shooters.
Irina Maharani, Bibiana Ng and Suefarinawaty won, among them, four gold
Malaysia's women rifle squad - Nurul Hudda Baharin, Roslina Bakar and
Nur Suryani Taibi - won the gold medal in the three position 50m event.
Hasli Izwan Amir saved the men's squad the blushes when he won the gold
medal in rapid fire pistol by setting a Games record.
Before the Sea Games, the national shooters returned from the South-East
Asian Shooting Association (SEASA) tournament in Bangkok with eight gold
medals and expectations were high.
The week-long regional tournament saw shooters, preparing for the Sea
Games in September, winning eight gold out of 17 events offered so their
performance at the KL Sea Games was nothing to shout about.
It was not a productive year for the shooters and they hope to do better
next year when they compete in the Manchester Commonwealth Games and the
Asian Games in Pusan.
NSAM have already named their training squad for the Commonwealth and
Asian Games next year.
They are Mohd Emran Zakaria, Mohd Zaki Din, Mohd Hameleay Mutalib, Hasli
Hizuan Amir, Azmi Osman and Hamdan Rahmat, Roslina Bakar, Suryani Mohd
Taibi, Nur Daliah, Nurul Hudda Baharin, Nur Suefarinawati Affendy, Irina
Maharani and Bibiana Ng.
All the shooters were in the Sea Games squad, except for Azmi and Hamdan
who were selected based on their outstanding performance at several
championships including the Langkawi Full Bore Challenge 2001 at the
Langkawi International Shooting Range (Lisram) in September.
Azmi and Hamdan are from Unit B of the Special Assault Forces Team.
The two will join six other shooters and train at Lisram for the
Commonwealth Games to be held in Manchester, England, from July 25 to Aug
The shooters will also compete in the New Zealand National Shooting
Championships from Jan 4 and the World Full Bore Championships in South
Africa in April as well as the Bisley Championships in England in July.
They will continue their training in England until the Commonwealth
Games begins.
Participation in these championships would give them wide exposure and
prepare them adequately for the Manchester Games.
Hopefully, they would yield better results next year.

Games gold nothing to shout about


CAN a Sea Games gold be considered as success for the hockey squad?
We will be the laughing stock of the world if we decide to gloat on the
Kuala Lumpur Sea Games gold because Malaysia have regularly seen action at
the World Cup and Olympics level.
So, while millions of ringgit have been pumped into hockey, for
tournaments and overseas Test and friendly matches, the year 2001 can be
considered as a big flop.
And some see it as a bad omen leading to the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup
on Feb 24-Mar 9.
The most humiliating moment for the fans was when Malaysia finished
bottom of the table in the Azlan Shah Cup in August.
Malaysia were so pathetic that the fans just refused to travel to the
stadium and watch them play and although it was a star-studded tournament,
the stands remained empty.
The Azlan Shah Cup failed to draw crowds despite the presence of six of
the top seven teams in the world.
No one will argue about the quality of performance by the teams, except
for Malaysia, with big names like Sohail Abbas and Oliver Domke. Still,
hockey fans in the country preferred to stay away.
Except for the first weekend which featured the Malaysia-India and
India- Pakistan matches, the other fixtures, including the exciting final
involving Germany and South Korea, received lukewarm response.
At the recent Champions Challenge, it was the same story. Malaysia
started well by winning three matches against Japan, Belgium and India,
but lost their remaining matches against Argentina, twice, and South
Africa to finish fourth.
The fans, numbering around 200, except for the Malaysia-India match
where around 5,000 turned up, stayed away from the National Hockey Stadium
in Bukit Jalil again even though good hockey was played in the Challenge
and the tickets were only priced at RM3 and RM5.
Money does not matter when the team is doing well, but the fans have
been disappointed on so many occassions, that they simply refuse to
support the team and don't be surprised if the stands remain empty even if
the Malaysia Hockey Federation (MHF) decides to open the gates for the
Six-Nation in January involving the likes of Australia, New Zealand,
Pakistan and defending World Cup champions Holland.
Just when everyone thought that the under-18 team, hastily assembled for
the Asian Youth Hockey tournament, sank to an all-time low by losing to
Uzbekistan in the semifinals, the national juniors decided to go one-up by
playing like novices in the Junior World Cup in Hobart, Tasmania in
Our future was on display at both the Asian Youth and the Junior World
Cup, and while not many expected them to do well in both the tournaments,
a bigger number did not expect them to land flat on their faces - on both
In the under-18 Asian Youth tournament, Uzbekistan with no previous
experience playing on artificial turf, beat favourites South Korea and
held Bangladesh to a draw in their run to the final.
The squad, which is made up entirely of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Sports College students from the State of Andijon, came into the
tournament with zero expectations, and only one set of jerseys, but went
home feeling like champions.
The team is more accustomed to playing on an 18-year-old bumpy and
grassless pitch at their college but hit the ground running when unleashed
at the Azlan Shah Stadium's astroturf pitch in Ipoh.
Uzbekistan humiliated Malaysia in the semis when they won 4-2 on
penalties as the match was tied 2-2 after regulation time.
It does not matter thet Uzbekistan were hammered by India in the final,
they still celebrated like champions, and they deserve heavy praise for
putting up a spirited display while Malaysia, pampered with state-of-the-
art training facilities at their doorstep, had to bury their faces in the
sand like an ostrich.
In the Junior World Cup, yet again the future of hockey in Malaysia took
a severe beating when they finished 12th in the 16 team tournament.
Ireland, Scotland, Chile and Canada were the teams which finished below
Malaysia in the Junior World Cup while the Indian juniors notched another
milestone in their comeback into mainstream hockey by clinching the gold.
So, undoubtedly, Malaysia were the whipping boys in the year 2001 and,
many feel, that if they were not the hosts of the 2002 World Cup, Malaysia
would not have qualified for the prestigious tournament.
But all is not lost yet, they have shown that they can win three matches
in a row in the Champions Challenge, and must now show the world in
February that they are not destined to be the whipping boys in hockey for
the next 10 years because the rest of the world's juniors are miles ahead.
India's juniors, for one, had a good year because they won the under-18
Asian Cup, the Junior World Cup and ended the year by being promoted into
the elite Champions Trophy.
On Jan 18, when the Six-Nation begins, we can only keep our fingers
crossed and hope that Malaysia will make a resounding comeback.
If not, the World Cup will be another feather in Malaysia's
organisational capabilities, while the Sea Games gold will become their
performance yardstick.

MHF expects ticket sales to pick up soon


THE countdown to the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup reads 62 days, but local
ticket sales have been anything but encouraging.
There has been numerous enquiries from the local fans but hardly any
made bookings to watch 16 of the world's best battle for the coveted
"Yes, ticket sales has been very slow but we expect sales to pick up
after the festival season ends. The World Cup came back to Malaysia after
27 years and I am sure hockey fans in the country will not want to miss
out on this golden opportunity to watch top grade hockey at their own
backyard," said Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary S. Satgunam
Axcess tickets, the company entrusted to sell the World Cup tickets,
were unwilling to disclose the total sales conducted after two months, but
a source in the company said the situation was bad.
"I fail to understand why the Malaysian public is still holding back
although the World Cup is only two months away.
"Normally, an event of this magnitute would have been almost sold out by
now," said the source.
He said the overseas bookings have been good with Holland and Hong Kong
making group enquiries.
"We have had more enquiries from overseas fans than Malaysians
eventhough we gave a 40 per cent discount on bookings for local fans
untill the end of December," he said.
Seven days more and the offer will no longer be valid, but still, it
looks like the Malaysian public is adopting a wait-and-see atitude before
making a commitment.
The cheapest ticket to watch one match in the KL World Cup is RM25
(behind both the goalposts) but for a family of four, it will mean RM100
to watch one match.
But the poor response to watch hockey is nothing new as even during the
Azlan Shah Cup in August, where six of the top seven teams in the world
were down in Malaysia, the stands of the National Hockey Stadium were
empty for most of the matches, including the exciting final between
Germany and South Korea.
The ticket prices for the Champions Challenge on Dec 7-15 at the
National Hockey Stadium in Kuala Lumpur were set at RM3 and RM5 to draw in
the crowd, but only a handful of fans saw most of the preliminary matches
and the final between India and South Africa saw only about 5,000 fans.
The MHF failed to make any money out of gate collections for the
Challenge so they are hiking the ticket prices for the Six-Nation on Jan
18-26 at the National Hockey Stadium to RM5 and RM10.
Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan and World Cup
champions Holland will play in the Six-Nation to warm-up for the World Cup
and forking out RM5 to watch the top teams play is not too much to ask
from the local fans.
But if they still choose to keep away from the stadium during the Six-
Nation, the prospect of having capacity crowds during the World Cup is
surely a doomed one.

Nadri sets Megalanes on fire


MOHAMED Nadri of Selangor was yesterday crowned as the Boys' Open champion
in the Grand Finals of the SportExcel-Milo-NSC Junior bowling at the
Megalanes in Sunway Pyramid.
Nadri challenged round robbin leader Aaron Kong of Penang and walked
away with the crown after rolling down 258 pins in the step ladder sudden
In the Girl's Open, Denise Hee of Penang upset round robbin leader Voon
Kim Ling, also of Penang, when she knocked down 196 pins in sudden-death.
Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) secretary Sidney Tung said he
is quite happy with the performance of the juniors.
"We had tremendous response in the six legs leading into the Grand
Finals and we actually had to turn away some young bowlers because they
were not up to the mark.
"We started the SportExcel circuit in 1994 and it has been steadily
growing in number and quality over the years. At some of the legs, there
were about 270 bowlers and their standard was very encouraging," said
To overcome the problem of overcrowding, MTBC will hold a qualifying
round next year to trim down the number of bowlers.
"Since the response has been overwhelming, we might have to hold an
elimination round before the actual tournament next year to make things
logistically more realistic because some of the bowling centres in the
country cannot accommodate too large a number," said Tung.
And to make sure the winners of the Grand Finals keep themselves active
in bowling, SportExcel will hand out personal grants.
"We have been supporting bowling over the years and their circuit has
shown tremendous success because all the present national bowlers had
grown up with SportExcel.
"Nadri, the winner of the Boys Open, can expect our support to make him
a better bowler in the future," said SportExcel executive director Teng
Mui Ngee after the prize presentation ceremony.
Nadri, 16, will take one step at a time and his next target is to make
the Selangor Malaysia Games squad.
"I still have a long way to go before I can dream of making the national
squad. My next target is the Malaysia Games gold," said Nadri.
Nadri, who won the Penang, Selangor and Johor legs of the SportExcel
circuit, might also be enrolled into a special MTBC-National Sports
Council project.
"We do not wan't to lose budding talent like Nadri, so we will propose
to the NSC to have an elite junior squad for bowlers like him. The elite
squad will be a feeder for the national juniors and in that way, we will
always have a steady stream of young bolwers for the future," said Tung.
RESULTS - Boys' Open Round Robbin: 1 Aaron Kong (Pg) 4,252 pinfalls, 2
Hafizul Hafiz (PK) 4,158, 3 Poh Yee Min (Pg) 4,117, 4 Mohamed Nadri (Sel)
Step Ladder Grand Finals Champion: Mohamed Nadri bt Aaron Kong (258-
Graded Round Robbin: 1 Hazri Hazali (KL) 3,923, 2 Mohamed Khairul (Kel)
3,860, 3 Mohamed Hafiz (Ked) 3,844, 4 Johan Jamaluddin (Sel) 3,840.
Step Ladder Grand Champion: Hazri Hazali bt Johan Jamaluddin (194-140).
Girls' Open Round Robbin: 1 Voon Kim Ling (Pg) 3,985, 2 Zandra Aziela
(Sel) 3,888, 3 Denise Hee (Pg) 3,874, 4 Esther Cheah (Sel) 3,784.
Step Ladder Grand Champion: Denise Hee bt Voon Kim Ling (196-160).
Graded Round Robbin: 1 Sharon Koh (Sel) 3,768, 2 Tay Li Neo (KL) 3,576,
3 Vivien Kelly (Sab) 3,557, 4 Farah Asilah (Joh) 3,555.
Step Ladder Grand Champion: Sharon Koh bt Farah Asilah (188-182).

Kong streaks ahead for early lead


AARON Kong of Penang rolled a total of 2,625 pinfalls in first round of
the SportExcel-NSC-Milo 2001 Grand Prix Finals to become the early
favourite for Boys Open title at the Megalanes in Sunway Pyramid
Aaron, who won the graded title last year, was surprised with the way he
played yesterday as he did not do too well in the earlier six legs leading
into the Grand Finals.
"It is amazing at the way I rolled today (yesterday) because I never
expected to be at the top going into the round robin tomorrow (today). But
it is too early to celebrate because I have to perform better if I want to
stand at the top of the podium," said the Penang lad.
The best finish for Aaron was in the Penang leg early this year where he
finished second.
"My target is to do well enough in the SportExcel circuit that national
selectors will notice me and I will be able to fulfill my dream of donning
national colours," said the 16-year-old Aaron.
Another surprise package of the day was Voon Kim Ling, 16, also of
Voon rolled a total of 2,299 pins to top the Girls Open category.
"I never did well in the six legs leading into the Grand Finals. My best
finish was second in the Pahang leg, but now that I am at the top after
the first round, anything is possible tomorrow (today)," said Voon.
The top eight finishes from round one will battle for the Grand Finals
title today and by the look of things, Aaron and Voon, who led the first
round field by more than 200 pins, should be able to make it to the top of
the podium if they keep their composure.
BOYS' OPEN - Round One: 1 Aaron Kong (pg) 2,625 pins, 2 Poh Yee Min (Pg)
2,377, 3 Mohamed Noer Said (sab) 2,367, 4 Mohamed Nadri (sel) 2,366, 5
Karry Chang (Sar) 2,354, 6 Jackie Ting (Sar) 2,353, 7 Hafizul Hafiz (Pk)
2,345, 8 Adrian Ang (Pg) 2,327.
Graded - Round One: 1 Melvin Lai (Sel) 2,375, 2 Mohamed Hazri Hazali
(KL) 2,317, 3 Johan Jamaluddin (Sel) 2,300, 4 Mohamed Khairul (Kel) 2,288,
5 Mohamed Hafiz (Ked) 2,284, 6 Mohamed Zaim Said (Sab) 2,200, 7 Steven Yam
(Pg) 2,156, 8 Poon Cha Ling (Sar) 2,125.
GIRLS' OPEN - Round One: 1 Voon Kim Ling (Pg) 2,405, 2 Denise Hee (Pg)
2,299, 3 Esther Cheah (Sel) 2,284, 4 Zandra Aziela (Sel) 2,282, 5 Lim
Jiachyi (Sel) 2,238, 6 Lee Sze Hui (Pah) 2,188, 7 Elaine Lam (Pk) 2,177, 8
Saw Bee Bee (Pg) 2,144.
Graded - Round One: 1 Sharon Koh (Sel) 2,246, 2 Farah Asilah (Joh)
2,160, 3 Yap Pui Yee (KL) 2,110, 4 Ziran Nadiah (Sel) 2,100, 5 Vivean Kely
(Sab) 2,097, 6 Tay Li Neo (KL) 2,091, 7 Lim Wai Jun (Bandar Penawar Sports
School) 2,076, 8 Lye Siew Lih (Mal) 2,057.

SportExcel get ringgit boost from PanGlobal


PANGLOBAL Insurance yesterday became the latest Charter Members of
SportExcel with a three-year pledge of RM45,000 and also sponsor the Grand
Finals of the SportExcel Junior golf on Dec 27-28 at Kelab Golf Negara
PanGlobal Insurance CEO Edwin Wong said they decided to become a charter
member after reading SportExcel's plight in TimeSport.
"We share a common goal with SportExcel, that is nurturing world class
sportsmen for Malaysia. So when we read about SportExcel's difficulty in
securing Charter Members, we came in wholeheartedly," said Wong.
PanGlobal Insurance (PGIB) are no strangers to sport and they have
sponsored Malaysia's first Formula One driver Alex Yoong to realise his
"PGIB has until now, been extensively involved in extreme sports, in
particular motor sports and were the official sponsors of the Arrows F1
team during the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999.
"But our latest involvement with SportExcel signals our entry into the
sponsorship of mainstream sport and we aim to make a lasting impression,"
said Wong.
SportExcel chairman Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja'afar was received a
mock cheque of RM45,000 from PlanGlobal at a simple ceremony at the Royal
Selangor Club in Bukit Kiara yesterday.
"I am very happy that PanGlobal has decided to become a Charter Member
of SportExcel and they have given us a bonus by sponsoring the Grand
Finals of the golf circuit at the end of the month.
"The junior golf circuit was a pioneering effort by SportExcel and when
we initiated it 10 years ago, it was with a dream of providing junior
players from all over the country with an organised platform to polish
their skills through a sustained period of competition," said Tunku Imran.
The members of the Malaysian team which recently won the Sea Games gold
were all SportExcel graduates.
"Our under-15 golf representatives have also made the nation proud by
winning the Hong Kong Junior Open titles for the past five consecutive
"Ben Leong, who won an Amateur Open at the age of 13, and will be
pursuing his golfing career at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in
Florida next year is also a fine example of SportExcel's success at the
junior level," said Tunku Imran.
Eighty-one juniors, ranging from eight to 18, will play in the Grand
Finals after making an impression in the five legs of the tournament over
the year.
In the Boys' Under-18 category, champion Khor Kheng Hwai will find it
tough to defednd his crown as he is expected to be keenly challenged by
Leong and Kemarol Baharin Huda who have been playing well in the five legs
leading into the Grand Finals.

Japan latest entry for Six Nations tournament


THE Malaysia Hockey Federation (MHF) have accepted Japan's request to play
in the Six-Nation on Jan 18-26 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit
Earlier, the MHF had planned to make it into a Five-Nation when India
decided not to field a side in the tournament as it was too close to the
2002 World Cup on Feb 24-March 9.
"Japan wrote to us (MHF) and requested that they be included in the Six-
Nation because they need more practice matches to get ready for the World
Cup. We have included them in the fixtures and taken out India who
declined our invitation," said MHF secretary S. Satgunam yesterday.
India coach Cedric D'souza, when met at the recent Champions Challenge
in Kuala Lumpur, said: "The Six-Nation is too close to the World Cup and I
fear that my players might get injured or get too exhausted and will not
be able to perform well in the World Cup. That is why we have declined
MHF's invitation and will intead play a few Test matches to get ready for
the World Cup."
India won the Champions Challenge and will now play in the Champions
Trophy next year in Cologne, Germany.
For the Six-Nation, Malaysia open their campaign against Japan on Jan 18
and it is expected to be a tough encounter because the last time the two
teams met in the Champions Challenge, Malaysia edge them 1-0.
Japan had a bad start in the Challenge but recovered towards the end of
their fixtures by scoring a total of 11 goals against Belgium in two
Malaysia's preparations towards the World Cup begins with the Four-
Nation tournament in Spain on Jan 3-5 and then play hosts to the Six-
Nation at Bukit Jalil on Jan 18.
The teams for the Six-Nation are defending World Cup champions Holland,
Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Pakistan.
Tickets are priced at RM5 and RM10.
All the Six-Nation teams will also feature in the World Cup, and since
Malaysia will be opening their World Cup campaign against Australia, the
tournament is seen as a preview of what Malaysia are capable of when they
become hosts in February.
Six-Nation fixtures - Jan 18: Australia v New Zealand (4.05pm), Japan v
Malaysia (6.05), Pakistan v Holland (8.05).
Jan 19: New Zealand v Holland (6.05), Japan v Australia (8.05).
Jan 20: Malaysia v Pakistan (6.05).
Jan 21: Pakistan v Japan (4.05), New Zealand v Malaysia (6.05), Holland
v Australia (8.05).
Jan 22: Japan v Holland (6.05).
Jan 23: Australia v Malaysia (6.05), Pakistan v New Zealand (8.05).
Jan 24: Holland v Malaysia (4.05), New Zealand v Japan (6.05), Australia
v Pakistan (8.05).
Jan 25: REST DAY.
Jan 26: 5th-6th classification (4.05), 3rd-4th classification (5.35),
Final (8.05).

Roadshow planned for World Cup trophy


THE World Cup trophy will be down in Malaysia on Jan 15 and the Malaysian
Hockey Federation (MHF) have drawn up an elobrate roadshow to whip up
public support for the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup.
"Holland, the defending champions, will hand over the trophy in the
middle of January and the MHF have plans to go on a roadshow so that the
public will be able to view it at close range," said MHF secretary S.
The magnificent World Cup trophy was donated by Pakistan who were
supposed to be the first hosts in 1971 but due to security concerns, the
venue was shifted to Barcelona and the World Cup was held from Oct 15-24.
Pakistan, however, emerged the first winners of the World Cup with Spain
second and India third.
The World Cup has a rich history and tradition and in the 10th edition
in Kuala Lumpur in February, 16 countries will battle for 14 days to
decide who is the worthy winner.
Designed by Bashir Moojid of Pakistan, originally, the World Cup design
was conceived as a single piece in the form of a hockey stick to be
fabricated in gold and silver.
But later, based on the theme given by Lt General K.M. Azhar Khan, then
President of Pakistan Hockey Federation, coupled with the genius of the
designer and the skills of artisans serving in the Corps of Electrical and
Mechanical Engineers of the Pakistan Army, the trophy took the beautiful
shape that can be seen now.
The gold and silver World Cup trophy stands on a 120.85mm high blade
base inlaid with ivory. It comprises a silver cup carrying an intricate
floral design surmounted by a globe in silver and gold depicting the
world. On top of it is a ball and hockey stick.
The trophy, when mounted on its ivory base, stands 650mm high and weighs
11,560 grammes.
Materials used in making the trophy include 895g of gold, 6,815g of
silver, 350g of ivory and 3,500g of teak wood.
In the '73 World Cup in Amsterdam, experts valued the trophy at
The last time the trophy was in Malaysia was in 1975 and India were the
Twenty-seven years later, it is back in Kuala Lumpur, and should be on
the `must see' list of ardent hockey fans in the country.

Doors re-open on indoor meet


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) has a packed calendar for next year,
but they did not forget to include an indoor hockey tournament for
grassroots development.
The idea was mooted by chief coach Paul Lissek while he was in Hobart
for the Junior World Cup in October after he spoke to FIH president Els
van Breda Vriesman.
"We have added an indoor carnival into next year's calendar so that
Malaysia will be able to play in the first indoor championship organised
by the FIH in Germany in 2003," said MHF secretary S. Satgunam yesterday.
Els had said that to be eligible for the 2003 indoor championship, a
country must have an active indoor league or at least organise one indoor
Back in the 80s, there was an active indoor league where a number of
clubs used to take part over the weekends at the Stadium Negara. But it
died off after Stadium Negara became too difficult to book.
"Now that Stadium Negara is no longer on the list to be demolished, we
will utilise it over a weekend in September for the indoor tournament,"
said Satgunam.
About 10 clubs are likely to take part in the tournament to be played on
a carnival basis.
"But we would also like to include schools into the tournament so that
they will be more familiar with the rules and regulations of indoor
hockey. The MHF Standing Committee will have a discussion with Lissek on
the matter and it is highly likely that schools will play a major part in
the tournament," said Satgunam.
Lissek has always believed that indoor hockey is the only way to teach
schoolchildren the basics in hockey.
"I believe we need to have an active indoor league so that more people
will be able to play hockey on a carnival basis to make the sport more
popular in Malaysia.
"I feel that indoor hockey should also be taught in schools because it
will increase the base of skillful hockey players in the country and the
selection for national duty will also be more challenging," said Lissek
MHF has also slated the Malaysia Hockey League before the Asian Games in
September to be followed by the Junior League.
"Although the main priority is the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup, we will
still continue with the senior and Junior Leagues so that the players will
be kept busy with hockey the whole year around," said Satgunam.
For indoor hockey, a team will need at least 12 players although only
six players can play at a time. Running substitution is allowed and teams
can make use of all 12 players as many times as they want in the 20
minutes of play in each half.
There might be an initial problem with finding enough clubs to take part
in the tournament but Satgunam is optimistic that it will grow.
"We have to start somewhere, and right now our target is at least 10
clubsides. But I believe we will have a good response once we send out the
invitations and then we can make it a regular tournament in the MHF
calendar," said Satgunam.

Malaysia on `kamikaze' mission


MALAYSIA'S preparation for the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup looks like a
`kamikaze' mission but in truth the team needs all the international
exposure they can get.
The Malaysians kick off their busy schedule with the Four-Nation
tournament in Spain on Jan 3-5 and this is then followed by the Six-Nation
in Kuala Lumpur which starts on Jan 19.
England, Poland, Malaysia and hosts Spain make up the teams playing in
the Four-Nation while the Six-Nation has an impressive lineup of
Australia, India, Holland, New Zealand, Pakistan and hosts Malaysia.
With the World Cup scheduled for Feb 24-March 9, one would think that
the close proximity of the two tournaments, not to mention flying halfway
across the world and back again, can be deemed "sheer madness" as this
could cause the players to burn out before the World Cup.
But national chief coach Paul Lissek thinks otherwise.
"We need more top level matches before the World Cup begins in February
because right now, they are still weak in certain departments. The Four-
Nation and the Six-Nation will do more good than harm," said Lissek.
All the teams playing in the two tournaments have qualified for the
World Cup and it will be interesting to see how Malaysia fare, especially
Australia in the Six-Nation as the Malaysians open the World Cup
tournament with a match against the Aussies.
Only India have shown some reluctance to play in the Six-Nation.
"India have indicated that they might not field a team for the Six-
Nation because they feel it is too close to the World Cup but we are still
working on it with the Indian Hockey Federation," said Malaysia Hockey
Federation secretary S. Satgunam yesterday.
It is learnt that India want to field their second team for the Six-
Nation but the MHF insists they field their full side. If this problem can
be solved over the next two weeks, Malaysia will get another chance to
test their skills against the Champions Challenge winners.
The matches against Holland (World Cup champions), Pakistan and New
Zealand will do the Malaysians a world of good as they still lack
confidence but there still is the worry of burn out.
For the Four-Nation in Spain, the MHF have selected the same team that
played in the Champions Chalenge with the exception of Shaiful Azli who
was dropped. He is replaced by Junior World Cup player Mohamed Amin Rahim.
The team, after a two-week break for the festival season, will leave for
Spain on Dec 31.Their first match is against the hosts on Jan 3. They take
on England the following day and Poland the day after.
Squad for the Four-Nation: Roslan Jamaluddin (gk), Nasihin Nubli (gk),
Maninderjit Singh, Chua Boon Huat, K. Gobinathan, S. Kuhan, Nor Azlan
Bakar, Chairil Anwar, Jiwa Mohan, Mohamed Madzli Ikmar, Tajol Rosli,
Mohamed Rodhanizam Radzi, K. Keevan Raj, Mirnawan Nawawi, K. Logan Raj,
Azlan Misron, S. Shanker, Mohamed Amin Rahim.

There's still hope, Malaysia


THE signs are, if the Champions Challenge is taken as a preview, ominous
for Malaysia going into the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup on Feb 24 to March
By now, even the staunchest of fans will agree that a top-six finish is
not possible for Malaysia but the question now, after the team's exploits
in the Champions Challenge, is how low will they finish in the 16-team
The Malaysia Hockey Federation will, privately off course, be happy if
the team finish anywhere between seventh and 12th place but if the
performance of the other five teams in the Champions Challenge is any
indication, then the national team are definitely in trouble.
All six of the Challenge teams will play in the World Cup with
Argentina, Belgium and South Africa in Group A and India, Japan and
Malaysia in Group B.
But it would be unfair, even unkind, if all doors are shut on a team who
did show glimpses of their potential in the Champions Challenge.
Before the Champions Challenge started, not many had faith in the team
to do well but after scoring wins over Japan, Belgium and eventual
champions India, people started to take notice.
But the tempo, largely due to inexperience in the squad, changed after
that as pressure got to the team.
Many will feel that it is inexcusable that Malaysia, despite needing
only one point to make the final, failed as they fell to Argentina and
South Africa but there is hope if the squad learn from their Champions
Challenge experience.
That they eventually finished fourth is not the problem but the fact
that history was allowed to repeat itself is a problem Paul Lissek and his
men have to rectify before the World Cup.
In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Malaysia held Holland to a 0-0 draw and
they threw away three points when they conceded a late equaliser to
Pakistan for a 2-2 draw.
Holland went on to win the gold, Pakistan finished fourth while Malaysia
slid to 11th after a good start.
And in the Challenge, Malaysia were the only ones to beat eventual
champions India 2-1 but still finished fourth.
What does it say about our team?
The clear signal is that Malaysia are very poor at handling pressure, and
the team management need to arrest that fast if they want to see any
results in the World Cup.
Overall, the team has mastered the basics and even though there were
times when they forgot how to play hockey, they have what it takes to
challenge the rest in the World Cup.
But that is only if the players want it bad enough.
"It is a pity that the boys were not exposed to the basics at a very
young age. Now, all I can do is hammer, hammer and hammer the basics into
their heads. But when they are down, they easily forget what I have taught
them because the basics of hockey is not naturally ingrown but forced in.
"I have two more months to work on this team and by the time I am
finished with them, they will be in a better shape than now," said chief
coach Lissek.
This is something the players, given a two-week break, must ponder on
even as they celebrate the festivities prior to leaving on Dec 30 for a
four-nation tournament in Spain.
The early promise showed in the Champions Challenge indicates that
Malaysia can, again if they want it badly, do well in the World Cup and
this is something only the players can do.
A very thin line separates the best from the rest, and it is up to the
national players to decide which side of the line they want to be on.

Lombi breaks our hearts


MALAYSIA ................. 2
Chairil Anwar (44th), Madzli Ikmar (51st)
ARGENTINA ................. 4
Jorge Lombi (5th, 25th, 28th, 59th)
MALAYSIA paid dearly for taking too long to warm up in the 3rd-4th placing
match of the Champions Challenge at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit
Jalil yesterday.
The hosts took it easy in the first half, understandably, as the match
started at 5.30pm and 10 players in the squad had yet to break their fast.
Nevertheless, they came back strongly in the second half only to be denied
by poor finishing in the last 10 minutes of play.
Jorge Lombi, for one, simply loves playing against the Malaysians as in
three encounters he has scored 10 goals. In the Osaka Olympic qualifiers,
Lombi scored all four goals in their 4-4 tie and in the classification
match, got another two goals.
Yesterday at Bukit Jalil, the Argentine brought the Malaysians to their
knees with four goals.
From the moment that Chairil Anwar failed to connect a cross from the
left in the semicircle, it was evident that Malaysia were going to face a
torrid time against Argentina in the fight for third placing.
It was, again, poor finishing which led to a miserable game in the
Argentine semicircle and even though Argentina rested their first choice
goalkeeper, Pablo Moreira and fielded Juan Manuel Vivaldi, the goalkeeper
was hardly tested in the entire first half.
And in the fifth minute, Lombi, better known for scoring penalty corner
goals, scored a field goal after finding himself all alone facing Roslan
Jamaluddin after weaving his way past several defenders.
In the last match against Argentina, where malaysia lost 2-1, Lombi
scored both the goals and yesterday, it looked like he was going to have a
gala time, not being marked at all.
The defenders, Maninderjit Singh and Nor Azlan Bakar, were not focused
on the task at hand and in the 25th minute, Lombi again got his name on
the scoreboard with another field goal.
In the 28th minute, Malaysia found themselves in deper trouble as Nor
Azlan Bakar was sent to the sin bin for a rough tackle in the semicircle.
Two minutes later, Argentina increased the pressure and off a penalty
corner attempt they won a penalty sroke when Maninderjit Singh was deemed
to have stopped the ball with his feet.
Lombi stepped up and beat Roslan Jamaluddin for his hat-trick in the
30th minute.
In the second half, there was some shape to the Malaysian attack and the
team did look more dangerous than in the first 35 minutes. There was some
urgency in their attack and in the 44th minute they managed to break the
S. Kuhan made the only intelligent pass of the match and Chairil Anwar
connected for a face-saving goal.
Three minutes later, in their haste to score more goals, K. Logan Raj
was flashed with the yellow card and Malaysia were again playing with 10
But the fire was still in them and in the 51st minute, they won a
penalty corner and Maninderjit Singh's thundering shot was deflected into
goal by Madzli Ikmar.
But it became harder for Malaysia to get back into the match when in the
59th minute, Lombi deflected in his fourth goal of the match.
Credit is due to the entire team for their undying efforts, but still,
winning is what counts and Argentina finished third in the Champions
Challenge even though they were just a mediocre side yesterday.

Win big battles to win the war


AS strange as it may sound, the Champions Challenge was the best thing
that has ever happened to the Malaysian team who are preparing for the
2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup on Feb 24 to March 9.
For, now they know where they stand among the bottom half of the teams
that will be playing in the World Cup.
No, they are not a useless side, and their fate in the World Cup has not
yet been fossilised.
This team has shown the will, the hunger, and the physical resilience.
But come February, their destiny will be shaped by either their ability
or inability to win crucial matches.
In the Champions Challenge, that didn't happen. After taking the first
three matches, they needed only a single point in their remaining two
matches to make the final.
But neither Argentina, nor South Africa - as territorially dominated as
they were for most part of the matches - were not about to either be
magnanimous or be outplayed.
South Africa needed a win to make the final. Like Malaysia they had the
will, the hunger, and the physical resilience too. But the Africans had
one more element that clinched it - the ability to win.
And that in the final analysis will decide whether you are up there in
the podium holding the trophy, or in the multitude of spectators cheering
the winners.
And it's not that they cannot win matches. They have mastered the
basics, even consolidated their fitness, but they need the stage presence.
The composure when defenders are not compromising, and the sharpness when
they are presented with half chances in tight situations.
Today, when they meet Argentina, for the second time in the Challenge,
in the third-fourth placing match, their appetite for success and mental
strength will once again come under careful scrutiny.
So against Argentina today, we will know if the team has what it takes
to handle the pressure and fight back when wounded and cornered.
"After winning three matches in a row and needing only a draw in the
next two matches to reach the final of the Champions Challenge, it was
definitely a sad moment when the team was relegated to the third-fourth
placing match tomorrow (today).
"But I am not angry with my men because they have shown that they can
score as well as defend. Now we know our weaknesses which can be overcome
before the World Cup next year," said Paul Lissek.
Against Argentina on Wednesday where Malaysia lost 2-1, even the
Argentinians felt that they only won because luck was on their side.
Malaysia did everyting right but after S. Kuhan missed the penalty stroke,
every attempt by Malaysia was either stopped on the line or the goalposts
were in the way.
Against South Africa on Thursday, it was the same story again but
Malaysia deserve credit because they never gave up fight until the final
whistle was blown.
And instead of celebrating wildly, the South African players dropped to
their knees to thank their good fortune.
Argentina, who came into the tournamant as the favourites after topping
the World Cup Qualifiers in Edinburgh, also found themselves on the wrong
side because they looked overconfident and underestimated India.
Today, both Argentina and Malaysia who had one foot in the final but had
the door rudely slammed on them, will be out to salvage some pride and an
explosive encounter is assured.
But even before the match starts today at 5.30pm, 10 Malaysian players
will be handicapped because they will still be fasting and the afternoon
sun could cause havoc in the form of dehydration.
But nobody will be surprised if they come back strongly against
Argentina today, because all those who have watched them play in the
Champions Challenge, know that this is the most committed team that
Malaysia have produced in a long time.
The only thing they need to do is to start winning when it matters.