Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wanted: Hitman


MALAYSIAN chief coach Paul Lissek put up the wanted poster after Malaysia
muffed several good chances against Pakistan and Germany, but there will
be no takers for the next few years, at least.
"The team does not have a player with killer instincts, like the rest of
our opponents. That is why Malaysia suffered the worst run, ending without
a single point," said Lissek.
Malaysia have lost eight straight matches since March 17, three Test
matches against Pakistan, one friendly against South Korea, and four
matches in the Azlan Shah Cup. The boys only managed to score four goals
but let in 11.
The coach was quite irked when names of players who did not perform, or
were not physically fit, were made public by the Press, but yesterday, he
"I will have to change the training strategy and include more physical
training because our target is to do well in the Champions Challenge in
South Africa and then qualify for the Athens Olympics," said Lissek.
Lissek is a world-class coach, and should know what is the best position
for his players, but sometimes, by standing on the shoulders of hockey
fans, he can see further.
Malaysia do have two killer strikers in Tajol Rosli and Azlan Misron,
but they were seldom on target, even when presented with open goals,
because too much was expected from them.
Azlan and Tajol were everywhere, in midfield, defense and attack -
following the ball tirelessly. But it was too grueling and energy-sapping
for humans, and they missed vital chances when presented with open goals.
The duo played well in the Razak Cup and the National Under-21, when
they were not expected to make passes, but receive and score.
Chua Boon Huat is another wasted talent. From the stands, it was obvious
that he is not made to score goals but instead to play as a feeder. Chua
played the best hockey of his life when he was a rightback, or even a
right midfielder. He is a good feeder, and maybe a change of position will
make the team stronger at the back with more balls reaching our forwards.
Megat Azrafiq and Amin Rahim showed in the Azlan Shah Cup that they can
be relied upon to marshal the defence when S. Kuhan and Nor Azlan Bakar
push forward to help the strikers, but the plan backfired many times
because Kuhan and Azlan Bakar were not fast enough to retreat when the
situation warranted.
All 18 players for the Azlan Shah Cup had skills and ball sense, but
lacked fitness to carry them for 70 minutes of play or back-to-back
matches, so it will be useless if Lissek conducts skills training after
this. He should break up the schedule with two weeks of training and two
weeks of playing hockey.
The boys also looked like they never recovered after a week of training
in Malacca, three Test Matches against Pakistan, a friendly against South
Korea and then immediately pitted against world-class teams in the Azlan
Shah Cup.
Have they forgotten what happened to the 2001 Tasmania Junior World Cup
team? Malaysia had some of the most exciting junior players in the team,
but a grueling run-up programme caused burn-out and after losing to New
Zealand 4-2 in the opening match, they never recovered.
Junior World Cup coaches Yahya Atan, Zulkifli Abas and team manager
Ariffin Ghani made a written report to the Malaysian Hockey Federation
about the disaster in Tasmania. Maybe someone should take out the copy
from the archives, wipe the dust off it and study it closer before
planning for the next battle.

Germany-Pakistan showdown


DEFENDING champions Germany had to dig deep into their reserves to beat a
stubborn New Zealand 3-2 to keep their record clean in the Azlan Shah Cup
in Ipoh, yesterday.
Germany will meet Pakistan to decide the winner tomorrow, with the
Germans having a slight advantage as they won 4-3 in the pool match. But
Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh warned that they aim to topple the defending
champions, making it a mouth-watering final.
Pakistan played one of their worst matches yesterday, but still managed
to beat South Korea 1-0.
In the first match, Germany scored two quick goals before the first
quarter of the match but the Kiwis were a determined lot and fought for
every ball and managed to get the equaliser.
Max Landshut scored off a penalty corner in the eighth minute and
Christopher Zeller sounded the board in the 14th minute and the Germans
were sure they had broken the Kiwis.
But New Zealand charged back into the game after Hayden Shaw flicked in
a penalty stroke in the 30th minute, and they went into the dressing room
with an outside chance of winning the match.
And 10 minutes into the second half, they got the equaliser when Wayne
McIndoe sneaked unnoticed and slammed home.
Germany were in no mood to share points with the Kiwis and when
Christoph Beckmann's cheeky scoop sailed over goalkeeper Paul Woolford in
the 53rd minute, they were back in control and sailed home with 12 points
from four matches.
In the second match, South Korea needed four goals to pip Pakistan to
the final, but a fourth minute penalty corner settled the dispute early.
Sohail Abbas' flick grazed the top bar and crashed into the back of the
Korea were as stubborn as ever and they went on the offensive but
goalkeeper Ahmad Alam was in form and the slim lead remained at half time.
The second half was a drab affair as Korea struggled to hold the ball,
while the Pakistan forwards were blunt in the semi-circle.
Korea pressed very hard in the last five minutes, but Ahamd Alam was in
no mood to settle for a draw.
GERMANY.........3 NEW ZEALAND......2
SOUTH KOREA.....0 PAKISTAN.........1

Tenaga serious about juniors


TENAGA Nasional Bhd are dead serious about their junior developmentprogramme, and yesterday, they brought down their entire Junior HockeyLeague team to Ipoh for a motivation-cum-vacation session. Tenaga resume their JHL fixtures against Anderson-Xybase on April 5, andleaving no stone unturned, they brought in a motivator from UniversitiSains Malaysia, Penang, for a pep talk - after watching the Malaysia-Germany match at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh. "We can't afford to lose any points in the remaining JHL matches if wewant to come out tops in Division One. That is why the management decidedto motivate the players by letting them watch world-class hockey in Ipoh,"said coach K. Rajan. But while cheering their heroes, the Tenaga boys were also seen busytaking down notes. "Each player was given a specific assignment during the Malaysia-Germanymatch. They were told to follow and jot down the movement of players whoplayed in the same position as them. After the match, they presented theirfindings and what they had learnt," said Rajan. Malaysia Sports School, Tenaga, Telekom Pahang and Anderson are joint-leaders in Division One and can't afford to lose any points. Anderson-Xybase had the golden opportunity of being motivated by the NewZealand team in a clinic held in Ipoh, in anticipation of the match onApril 5 at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium. After that explosive match, Tenaga face easier opponents in Olak-MPK andSrii Aroma PISC to wrap-up their fixtures. Meanwhile, Rajan also said that they had selected five of their JHLplayers for the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL). "We (Tenaga) believe in exposing young players early, and have decidedto field five JHL boys in the MHL this season. The five are S. Bubalan, S.Selvaraju, Mawardi Samad, Fairuz Hamsani and goalkeeper Fitri Abdul Aziz,"explained Rajan. (END

We finish among the rest


MALAYSIA had nothing to lose and played their best match of the Azlan Shah
Cup against Germany and went down fighting to the World Champions.
The Malaysian camp was better organised and more committed, but too many
misses in front of the goalmouth handed the match on a silver platter to
Malaysia's tournament ended yesterday, and the hosts finished last as
there was no fifth-sixth playoff due to India's withdrawal.
The Malaysian players were not scared of Germany and Megat Azrafiq gave
an early indication of what was in store when he shoved Sascha Reinelt in
the fourth minute, but gave away a penalty corner in the process.
Roslan Jamaluddin was in terrific form yesterday, and palmed away the
ball and the feeling at the stadium was that Malaysia are going to give
the Germans hell for the duration of the match.
Skipper S. Kuhan and the more experienced players Nor Azlan Bakar, Chua
Boon Huat, K. Keevan Raj, Tajol Rosli and Shaiful Azli were like men
possessed with a mission, and they played like heroes in the first half.
Germany got frustrated as the minutes raced by and started making
mistakes, which were snatched by the rejuvenated Malaysian side.
Three clear chances went to waste in the first half, as Tajol, P.
Prabahkaran and Azlan Misron got in each other's way eventhough the
goalmouth was wide open.
It was a day of goalkeepers, as even German Clemens Arnold was in fiery
form and kept his teammates in the game.
The best chance was in the 25th minute when Nor Azlan Bakar sent in a
cross from the 25-yard-line and found Tajol and Prabha facing Clemens, but
both the Malaysian players got into each other's way and Germans were let
off the hook.
The first half tension in the German camp was on display when their
coach Bernhard Peters jumped over the fence separating the bench and the
turf and screamed at his players for letting Malaysia take control of the
When the second half resumed, Malaysia kept up the good work and kept
the crowd at the edge of their seats with near misses, while the Germans
were so well marked that they could do nothing right.
The best chance was in the 50th minute when Riduan Nasir sent in the
ball from just outside the semi-circle, but Azlan Misron's deflection
screamed centimeters over the bar.
The Germans hardly got a chance to enter the Malaysian semi-circle in
the second half as Kuhan and Megat kept a tight reign. But Malaysia were
unlucky to give away a penalty corner in the 56th minute, which was tucked
away by Justus Scharowsky.
Malaysia received a break four minutes later when Sebastian Bierderlack
was sent to the sin bin for rough play. But as the match resumed, Kuhan
hooked Reinelt from the back, and was also sent out.
Prabahkaran wore the skipper's armband, but before the match could get
underway, Nor Azlan Bakar received a knock and was substituted with a
bleeding nose.
Malaysia were in a very tight spot, one goal down against the World
Champions, and have to play the remaining eight minutes without two
leading defenders - Kuhan and Nor Azlan Bakar.
In their place, the young brigade of Megat and Wan Asyrizal were
bombarded non-stop by the German forwards and Christoph Bechmamm got his
name on the scorecard.
Nor Azlan and Kuhan came back into the match and the crowd went wild
when Azlan Misron scored off a deflection, but there was not enough time
for the equaliser.
MALAYSIA .......1 GERMANY ........2

Weibenborn on meteorical rise for Germany


TIBOR Weibenborn, 22, epitomises the German team's total dedication to
field hockey, as the player already has 146 international matches under
his belt in his four-year career with the national side.
The Germans came prepared with a dossier on their players, and the young
and talented played is noted for being a terror on the right flank.
Weibenborn, who is from Berlin, only started hockey (national team)
three years ago, but has already staked a claim in the inner circle of the
team. He is technically experienced and very fast even though he is the
youngest player in the team.
Coach Bernhard Peters is very happy with his performances in the Azlan
Shah Cup to date and believes that the young player's creativity is a big
"He is young, dynamic and has successfully adapted to the team as was
shown in the Kuala Lumpur World Cup," said Peters.
The small, dark-haired player started his career at the age of five with
Berlin HC, and was rewarded by the International Hockey Federation (FIH)
with the Most Promising Young Male of 2001 award in Kuala Lumpur, just
before the World Cup.
Weibenborn comes with very impressive credentials. He was in the team
that won gold at the European Junior Championship in 1998 and the
following year, made his debut with the senior team at the European
He played in the Champions Trophy in 2000 as well as the Sydney Olympics
which he described as "my most frustrating experience, as Germany failed
to qualify for the semi-finals." Britain edged them 2-1.
Weibenborn joined the German Federal Armed Forces in Sept 2001, and last
October started on a sports degree course.
Peters will surely be banking on the youngster to give his best this
year too as they try to ensure an automatic berth into the 2004 Athens
Olympics by winning the European Championship in September.
Name: Tibor Weibenborn
Age: 22
Caps: 146
Total goals scored: 21
First cap: March 24, 1999
Position: Right flank
Occupation: Student, Sports Degree
Major tournaments: 1998 - European Junior championship, 1999 - Senior team
debut, European championship, 2000 - Champions Trophy (Amsterdam), Sydney
Olympics, 2001 - European Indoor championship, Luzern (Panasonic Cup),
Champions Trophy (Rotterdam), Azlan Shah Cup (Kuala Lumpur), 2002 - World
Cup (Kuala Lumpur)

Malaysians buckle under pressure


MALAYSIA were beaten 3-1 by Pakistan yesterday but there was no shame in
the defeat as the hosts put their heart into the match to redeem their
sagging pride in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
Pakistan only managed four penalty corners for the duration of the
match, but scored three goals off them. Malaysia bungled seven of theirs.
That was the only difference between the two teams yesterday.
The fans came in droves to support the national team hoping for a
miracle, but in the third minute Pakistan dealt a severe blow.
Pakistan were awarded a penalty corner even though it was a raised ball
which hit Nor Azlan Bakar's foot, and Sohail Abbas' low flick beat
goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin who was fielded for the first time in the
Roslan made up for it by saving a seventh minute raised shot from
Dilawar Hussain and Malaysia got back into top gear in the next 20 minutes
but it was a case of near misses.
Megat Azrafiq, who had a nightmare outing against Pakistan in the Busan
Asian Games, was a pillar of confidence, but unfortunately, suffered a
hard knock and was back on the bench.
Only one penalty corner came Malaysia's way but it was a wasted effort
as S. Kuhan was slow to flick, and the first runner stole the ball from
Malaysia were playing at a furious pace cheered on by the 3,000-odd
fans, but in the dying minutes of the first half, a blunder by Roslan
allowed Pakistan a second goal.
It was Pakistan's second penalty corner and before their pusher could
send the ball in, Roslan ran towards Sohail, and the umpire blew for
another penalty corner.
Roslan, knowing the Pakistanis would be waiting for him to run towards
them, did exactly that to the amazement of the crowd.
All Sohail had to do was push the ball to his right to Ali Reza, who,
facing an open goalmouth, blasted the ball in.
The hosts went into the dressing room with their heads hung low, knowing
that they face the challenge of their lives, even to pull off a draw.
Chua Boon Huat had a golden opportunity to put Malaysia back in the
match but Pakistan goalkeeper Ahmad Alam managed to stop both his reverse
stick shots, one from a very acute angle.
As the clocked ticked, Malaysia did well not to allow any more goals,
but any hope of a draw was fast fading.
In the 48th minute, Malaysia attacked in numbers and even though the
first shot from Saiful Azli was parried away by goalkeeper Ahmad Alam,
Shaiful Azli scored from a goalmouth melee and the match was thrown wide
open again.
A minute later, Shaiful's shot hit the post and the Pakistanis were
shaken up but still gave Malaysia very little space to move.
Megat, who came back in the second half, gave away a penalty corner in
the 58th minute and Sohail punished him.
Malaysia received two more penalty corners in the last five minutes of
play but nothing came out of them. RESULTS
Shaiful Azli (48th) Sohail Abbas (3rd, 58th)
Ali Raza (34th)
Bevan Hari (2nd) Seo Jong Ho (16th)
Hayden Shaw (40th) Jang Jong Hyun (69th)
Phillip Burrows (48th)

Kiwis conducts clinic for Kinta juniors


THE New Zealand team yesterday conducted a coaching clinic for 100 boys
from around Ipoh, including the Junior Hockey League (JHL) team Anderson-
Anderson, with a majority of Form Four boys, have a crucial match
against Tenaga Nasional Bhd one day after the JHL resumes on April 4.
Their coach Mokhtar Baharudin was at hand during the clinic.
"The New Zealand players conducted the clinic in a very professional
way, and the boys, including myself, picked up a few pointers from them,"
said Mokhtar.
The New Zealand team had a few schoolteachers among them and the 100
boys, from ages 12 to 18, thoroughly enjoyed the lively session,
especially on the right posture for a good flick.
"We face a very tough match against Tenaga when the JHL resumes, and I
am very glad that the boys had a chance to mingle with the New Zealand
players because it is very rare for schoolboys to get a morale uplift from
a world class side. They will remember this moment for the rest of their
lives," said Mokhtar.
Anderson's JHL sponsors, Canterbury, who are also the sponsors of the NZ rugby side, arranged the two-hour clinic.
At the end of the clinic, the Kiwis performed a rousing Hakka and signed
autographs and posed for photographs with Malaysia's young hockey

Lissek slams players for erratic play


THE Malaysian team came under heavy overnight shelling from coach Paul
Lissek for raising the white flag just minutes after New Zealand fired
their first salvo in the battle for the Azlan Shah Cup.
The 18 players were accused of making a mockery of their home, their
tournament and deserting their fans despite undergoing months of
preparation and three mock battles against Pakistan.
A furious Lissek literally flung the tactical file folder at the players
during the half-time briefing, which sparked them to pick up the tempo in
the second half, but by that time the Kiwis had dug deep and the war was
lost with two matches in hand.
What is wrong with the Malaysian team? Why are they so unpredictable?
What, if anything, motivates them?
Nobody in the local hockey circle has a clue and Lissek is almost at
breaking point trying to understand their pusillanimous stance.
Lissek was 30 minutes late for the post-match Press conference because
he was ambushed on the way by Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) president
Sultan Azlan Shah. The normally cool German emerged visibly disturbed and
had to dig deep for excuses.
"Most of the players are not physically fit, and that is the main reason
why we lost the first two matches (2-0 against South Korea and 4-2 against
New Zealand)," said Lissek.
Who is to be blamed for that? None other than Lissek himself because
that is part of his work - to ensure the players are ready in every aspect
after so much time and money has been spent on them.
"Roslan (Jamaluddin, goalkeeper) is not fit enough because he skipped a
large number of our training sessions and that is why I did not field him
in the two matches and opted for Kumar even though he lacks match
experience," said Lissek.
"I gave Kumar a big break but he was a letdown and now I have to field
Roslan for the match against Pakistan (today)."
Those who have been following the team closely feel that the boys were
tired of the three-times-a-day video sessions prescribed by the German
coach. They also feel that he is concentrating too much on the newcomers,
while the old hands are left to their own devices.
"I will have to do more research to find out why the players looked like
they had rocks tied to their feet in the first 15 minutes against New
Zealand but yet could play excellent hockey in the second half. I have
much work to do, because we have crucial Olympic and World Cup qualifiers
in the next 12 months," said Lissek.
Strangely, Lissek still feels that his players lack exposure, even
though a majority of them have played in the World Cup, the Champions
Challenge, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
The battle-experienced players are the ones who have been playing very
badly in the Azlan Shah Cup. S. Kuhan, Nor Azlan Bakar, Chairil Anwar,
Chua Boon Huat, Tajol Rosli and Keevan Raj have seen action at every
level, but they were the big disappointments and struggled to keep pace
with the less experienced players in the team.
Malaysia meet Pakistan today and only a miracle can help our lads
because Shahnaz Sheikh's players have been very deadly in front of goal.
But the Malaysian players are as unpredictable as ever so don't be
surprised if there is a marked improvement in their play today.

Tough fight ahead in SA


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) has received the fixtures for the
Second Champions Challenge in Randburg, South Africa on July 19-27 and
going by their current form, Malaysia could find themselves fighting for a
berth in the third edition.
The team which finishes sixth will lose their spot in the Challenge and
that is troubling Malaysia's chief coach Paul Lissek.
New Zealand, South Korea, England, Spain and South Africa are the
opponents, and there is a good chance the Kiwis and Malaysia will be
playing in the fifth-sixth play-off.
The hosts set Malaysia as their opponents in the July 19 opener. This
match, against the weakest team in the Challenge, should ensure they get
off with a bang.
"New Zealand and South Korea, by beating Malaysia in the Azlan Shah Cup,
will have a psychological advantage and I am afraid that the boys, if they
continue playing like this, will be fighting relegation," said Lissek.
The Malaysian players are very skilful and at times, take calculated
risks - but alas, their level of fitness is a shame.
"That (fitness) is the area I will be working on and maybe I will use a
new method where they play hockey for two weeks, and undergo physical
fitness for the next two weeks," said Lissek.
In the First Champions Challenge at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit
Jalil, Malaysia won three straight matches and only needed one more point
against either South Africa or Argentina to reach the final, but failed
South Africa is expected to be another hockey nightmare for Malaysia.
The fixtures - July 19: South Korea v New Zealand, England v Spain,
Malaysia v South Africa; July 20: Spain v South Korea, South Africa v
England, New Zealand v Malaysia; July 22: Malaysia v England, New Zealand
v Spain, South Korea v South Africa; July 23: Spain v Malaysia, South
Korea v England, South Africa v New Zealand; July 25: England v New
Zealand, Malaysia v South Korea, South Africa v Spain.
July 27: Final & placing matches.