Friday, March 9, 2007

Greener grass on the other side of Confucian fence


A FLURRY of activities greet you as you walk down the corridors of Sekolah
Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan Confucian.
It was noon and the sun was blazing hot, but already cadets were busy
stomping and forming a line for inspection.
Scouts and Girl Guides in uniforms hopped about happily preparing for
the day while other club activities were also in full swing.
The sad part is that sport is almost non-existent, at least as far as
facilities are concerned.
Volleyball was the pride of the school six years ago but the
construction of a private school where the courts used to be stifled
The students at Confucian have never had a playing field and their only
pride is the basketball court - or rather half a court.
Sports secretary Y.M. Soo, beaming with pride, pointed out that although
they only have half a court for basketball, it has something no other
school in the country has - a fibre-glass panel.
"We are poor as far as sports facilities are concerned so we make the
best out of what we have," said Soo.
Basketball, volleyball, table-tennis and badminton have a large
following while field sports like cricket, soccer and hockey are played on
the students' own initiative.
"The students love to play soccer but we don't have a field. So they
find their own means. Sometimes, we request for friendlies with other
schools so that we can play at their ground."
The longing for a green is so evident in Soo's eyes.
The Confucian boys have become the whipping boys but it has never
deterred them from playing soccer.
Even to indulge in badminton is a luxury.
"We have an understanding with those who want to play badminton that
they book and pay for the halls and we reimburse them," said Soo.
In 1907, when the school was opened it was surrounded by greenery and
lots of space for expansion, but today it stands forlorn on a hillock amid
choking traffic fumes, with Pudu Raya behind and bustling Petaling Street
somewhat by the side.
"As recent as six years ago mention volleyball and Confucian and it sent
shivers down the spine of our opponents. But no longer. Now we have to
work our way from the bottom.
"We have placed the revival of volleyball top most on our list for this
year and hopefully, with the help of the Old Boys, we will have a good
team soon," said Soo.
The Malaysia Amateur Basketball Association (MABA) building and stadium
is a stone's throw from the school.
Maba send their project players to study at Confucian but since they
have their own training programmes in the evenings, they have no time to
play school-level basketball.
The Methodist Boys School (MBS) share the same wall with Confucian.
So when the end-of-school bell rang, some of the Confucian students,
waiting for transport to return home, could only take a peek and look with
envy at the lucky MBS boys who were busy playing a game of soccer on their
lush green pitch.
For the students of SM Confucian, the grass is definitely greener on the
other side of the fence.

Grow up you ungrateful brat


WHO does Hidayat Hamidon think he is? Does a Commonwealth Games gold allow
an athlete to call the shots and force the national association to go on
their knees to beg him for another assignment?
These questions spring to mind when one considers the recent behaviour
of this so-called hercules of Malaysia who thought he was doing everyone a
His disappearence after the Bangkok Asian Games was shrouded in mystery.
Some said he wanted to rest while others said he was plain lazy - after
receiving a jackpot of RM130,000 and a Proton Perdana worth RM69,000 for
his record-breaking feat in the 69kg clean and jerk event at last
September's Commonwealth Games.
To top it all, he was awarded the Ahli Mangku Negara (AMN) by Yang di-
Pertuan Agong Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah in his official 73rd
birthday's honours list.
This would make Hidayat seem like an ungrateful brat.
And it's baffling that the National Sports Council, who went through the
trouble of securing him a Malaysian citizenship, have not done anything
about his five-month disappearance.
NSC director-general Datuk Mazlan Ahmad was defensive when asked if any
action will be taken against Hidayat.
"There won't be as he is back and all is fine in the weightlifting
scene," said Mazlan yesterday.
Fine for whom? What sort of message is Mazlan sending to athletes
preparing for the Brunei and 2001 Kuala Lumpur Sea Games?
Is he saying NSC will condone such behaviour if he is a Commonwealth or
world champion?
An NSC top official also had the cheek to say that only people of
unsound mind take up weightlifting because you have to pump iron like mad
and thus become one, too. He said it is best to leave them alone.
And this after Mazlan had lashed out at several top athletes who have
become disinterested and lazy after last year's Commonwealth Games.
The NSC boss said the athletes' indifference is causing problems to
their national associations and preparations for the 2001 Sea Games to be
hosted by Malaysia.
So why take the easy way out now, Mazlan?
Hidayat's behaviour should be made into a lesson for all with a harsh
punishment. Commonwealth champion or no, he should be told that no one is
Weightlifters are expensive to develop and to prepare Hidayat for the
2001 Sea Games, NSC have set aside a budget of RM20,000 per month, which
includes vitamins and food supplements and a special dietry programme to
build the right muscles.
Then there are foreign coaches and stints involved to get him prepared
for the Games. If Hidayat is let off the hook this time, what guarantee is
there he will not pull off another similar stunt after the 2001 Games?
Then, NSC would be left with a hefty bill and an AWOL athlete.
When 20 track and field athletes who, in demanding for higher
allowances, had threatened to boycott the Brunei Games in August, Mazlan
didn't waste much time in scolding them.
He was then quoted as saying: "That's the trouble with some of our
athletes. They expect too much for too little and if Hidayat thinks he can
take it easy, he can forget about getting financial support from the NSC."
Now it appears as though Mazlan's level of tolerance has abated.
Perhaps the Olympic Council of Malaysia, who have a big say in who gets
what from the IOC, should withdraw the International Olympic Committee
grant to help Hidayat qualify for next year's Sydney Olympics.
The success of a good development programme depends on a wide base.
Let's not depend on just one athlete.
Stanley Robert from Sarawak, Steve Gampion and Jerry Nonong of Sabah
need just as much attention to become weightlifting champions.
It's time to dump the ungrateful and develop those still hungry for

Time to eat humble pie


IF we want to see results at the 2002 World Cup, which will be played on
home soil, preparations must begin today.
And what better way than to arrange a 10-Test series against the vastly
improved South Korean hockey team.
National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Mazlan Ahmad was
initially sceptical when this suggestion was put to him at the Malaysian
Hockey Federation dinner last Friday.
"Of course, we would like to have the series but the question is whether
the Koreans would want to play against a lower-ranked team. If they agree,
NSC will work with MHF to make it a reality," said Mazlan.
It did not take much to convince Korean coach Kim Sang Ryul on the need
for the series.
"It would be an honour for South Korea to play against Malaysia and
improve together. But first, MHF must write to the Korean Hockey
Federatian for approval and then look for suitable dates for the series.
Preferably, five matches in Malaysia and five in Korea," said the coach
who took a rookie side to the final against all odds.
The path has been paved, only paperwork remains. Mazlan has agreed that
NSC will handle the financial aspect if the series materialises.
The nine-Test series between Pakistan and India brought out the best in
Shahnaz Sheikh's team as was evident in the Azlan Shah Cup.
Thus, national team manager R. Yogeswaran was agreeable when asked for
his views on the Test series.
"It's the best proposal I have heard so far. In our quest to build a
strong team for the Sydney Olympics and the 2002 World Cup, we can learn
much from the Koreans. I hope it works out," said Yogeswaran.
The Asian Games silver medallists made a drastic change after Bangkok
and the result is stunning, even with seven newcomers on their side.
Change is the in-word today as almost all the world-class teams have
stopped relying on tested seniors and are grooming their youth instead.
Although Pakistan, India and Australia are in a transitional stage, they
are doing well while the German side found out the hard way at the Azlan
Shah Cup that they are no longer a feared side.
In January, Indian hockey was in turmoil when the coach, captain and
five senior players of the triumphant Asian Games squad were axed for a
tour of Pakistan.
Skipper Dhanraj Pillay, coach Maharaj Kaushik and goalkeeper Ashish
Ballal, key members of the squad who won India their first Asian Games
gold in 32 years, were not spared in the name of progress.
It was the same with Pakistan, who named five newcomers for the series
and are now making heads turn.
But it looks like change in Malaysia is at a snail's pace.
The national team need exposure from now until the Olympic qualifiers in
Osaka next March if young players like Shaiful Azli, who proved his worth
by clinching the only win for Malaysia at the Azlan Shah Cup, were to
Shaiful scored off a rebound six minutes into sudden-death play, his
first international goal, and it won't be his last if he has picked up a
tip or two from the Koreans.
South Korea, Pakistan and Japan will lead the Asian challenge to make
the Olympics while the top European teams expected to be in Osaka are
Germany (unless they emerge champions in the European Nations tournament),
Spain, England and Poland.
Canada or Argentina could be the Pan-American representatives while New
Zealand will provide the Oceania challenge as Australia, as Olympic hosts,
are automatic qualifiers.
Right now, Malaysia are ranked the lowest among all the teams who will
fight for a Sydney 2000 ticket.

Watch out for Shoail in the penalty corners


HE rarely hits the ball.
Not that he can't, only that his push travels faster than any player's
hit at the Azlan Shah Cup, so why bother.
Meet 22-year-old Pakistan sensation Shoail Abbas who is single-handedly
erasing the almost-there boys tag his team have been carrying around for
the last five years.
It might not be doing justice to his teammates, who are specialists in
their departments, but without Shoail, Pakistan would never have made
today's final against South Korea.
He scored 11 of the 26 goals Pakistan scored to make the final, an
average of two for each of the five matches he has played in.
But the penalty corner specialist, acclaimed to be the best in the world
right now, almost did not make it to the national squad. That's because
coaches at the junior level could not fit him into their game plan.
"I was dropped from the junior squad because they did not need a
defender but coach Shahnaz Sheikh liked the way I handled penalty corners
so he took me in," said the defender with huge hands.
Although Pakistan have possessed world class penalty corner hitters like
Khalid Bashir among their ranks, they have never had a pusher before.
Shoail aims to be the first and already he has made a name for himself.
Although he was gifted with booming pushes, nobody noticed him until he
made the senior squad and started practicing three hours a day, just
pushing and flicking.
"My idol is Bram Lomans from Holland. He inspired me with his big
But there is a difference between the two. While Lomans only makes an
appearance to take penalty corners, Shoail is a first-rate defender too.
But the International Hockey Federation's change of rule on rolling
substitution during penalty corners cut short Lomans' career.
One has to see to believe what Shoail can do with the ball when
presented with a dead ball. He has perfected the art of shielding the ball
from onrushing defenders with his body and then unleashing a strong scoop
which leaves the goalkeeper standing rooted.
Against Malaysia, where he scored from two penalty corners, the ball
sounded the board even before the defenders could move.

Ways to win back fans


FORMER Pakistani ace Shahnaz Sheikh is working hard to bring back the
wizardy of stickwork to the game.
Over the years, amendments to the rules by the International Hockey
Federation (IHF) have seen stickwork losing out to the power game and long
The Olympian centre-forward Shahnaz, who played alongside captain Khalid
Mehmood and brought glory to Pakistan at the 1970 Asian Games and the 1971
Buenos Aires World Cup, has submitted a working paper to the Pakistan
Hockey Federation (PHF) and the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) for their
The AHF will hold their council meting tomorrow and he hopes they will
discuss his proposals.
"Robbing the match of close play and good stickwork has emptied the
terraces which has resulted in the reluctance of sponsors to come forward
and support the game.
"In Pakistan and India local league matches used to attract thousands
before, but only a handful today. I see the same all over the world. That
is why we need change."
Shahnaz believes that the changes brought by the IHF Rules Board have
encouraged attacking hockey with less skill and flavour.
"This has eliminated the relationship between stick and ball and the
fans are keeping away from hockey.
"So in the larger interest of the sport, the IHF Board must emphasise on
the beauty of the game which helped pack the stadiums before.
"Among my suggestions are that the duration of the match be increased
from 70 minutes to 90; the back pass be restricted; and a third umpire be
"Rolling substitutions and the availability of 18 players during the
match has made it possible to increase hockey matches by 20 minutes. The
proposal is to divide the match into four quarters with rest periods of
between five and 10 minutes.
"This way, not only the fans will get more worth for their money but the
sponsors will also have more time to advertise. It will also allow the
full use of rolling substitution."
Shahnaz also feels that backpasses have made the game boring as the
crowd sees less risks being taken in the match.
"Restricting backpass from one to the other zones would result in closer
contact between stick and ball and make the game more interesting.
"Both the attacking and defending teams should not be allowed to make a
back pass from one zone to the other zone. This could also discourage
delaying tactics."
According to Shahnaz a third umpire, one who watches the game closely on
a television screen, is needed especially during penalty corners.
"With drastic changes in rules, penalty corner taking teams sometimes
succeed in blocking the view of the umpire and many incidents have arisen
where the stopper used his thumb to make a dead stop but the umpire is
caught unaware.
"As experienced in the last Champions Trophy match between Pakistan and
Holland, a player blocked the vision of the goalkeeper but the umpire was
busy checking the stopper. The second umpire was too far away to notice.
"The game has become so fast that it is now a stupendous task to check
whose deflection went into the net - defender or attacker. The third
umpire can monitor everything on the screen."
Shahnaz started his crusade in 1992 after Pakistan failed to win gold at
the Barcelona Olympics. Pakistan were beaten in the semifinals by Germany
who went on to win the gold by beating Australia in the final.
Since then, Shahnaz has taken pains to study the cause of that downfall,
and the factors that led to the rise of the Europeans.
His `old ways' have succeeded in grooming players in the 1992 Junior
Asian Cup to become world class players today as evident in goalkeeper
Ahmed Alam, skipper Atif Bashir and Shahbaz Junior.

Stick wizards simply too good


THE result was as predictable as Pakistan's wizardry. But this lesson
from the masters of stickwork was just what the young Malaysian team
needed to turn them into a home brew three years from now, reports Jugjet
In a one-sided match, Pakistan sliced through the Malaysian defence at
will at the National Hockey Stadium to book a place in the final of the
Azlan Shah Cup.
The difference in class was evident in the first minute when a
threatening Pakistan attack saw goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin stand his
ground to deflect a Shabaz Junior shot out of danger.
Relief didn't last long because five minutes into the match, Pakistan
were ahead. Captain Atif Bashir sliced the defence and a precise pass from
the right saw the ball glue itself to the stick of Naveed Asim, who had
only to tap it past an onrushing Roslan.
Chairil Anwar won Malaysia's first penalty corner in the eighth minute
from which goalkeeper Ahmad Alam made a dangerous clearance off S. Kuhan's
push to give away a second penalty corner. As in the first, Malaysia were
not rewarded.
Malaysia found their bearings after 13 minutes of play and began to win
possession. But as in previous matches, they were let down by poor
Two minutes later, Malaysia won their third penalty corner but Shaiful
Azli's push from the line could only travel three metres.
Pakistan won their first penalty corner in the 20th but Shoail Abbas'
shot narrowly missed the Malaysian goal.
But they didn't muff another penalty corner chance given away after a
Maninderjit Singh tackle. This time, Shabaz Junior converted cleanly off a
Shoail rebound.
Two minutes after the breather, Pakistan made it 3-0 through Haider
Hussain, who beat five Malaysian players after receiving a through pass.
Malaysia had another penalty corner in the 41st and this time, Kuhan's
powerful flick whizzed past Ahmed Alam to break the duck.
The goal spurred Malaysia and a solo effort by Suhaimi Ibrahim on the
right brought the crowd to their feet. But his half-hearted attempt was
stopped by Shoail.
There was no denying Pakistan their glory in the 47th. From a penalty
corner, Shoail, easily the best penalty corner specialist in Asia, struck
a lightning shot which flashed between the legs of Maninderjit into goal.
In the 60th, Shoail converted his second penalty corner goal to make it

Malaysia go down fighting


MALAYSIA lost their third match of the Azlan Shah Cup tournament against
Germany yesterday, but their determination won the hearts of many fans at
the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Although still bogged down by poor passing and loss of concentration in
the last 15 minutes of the match, they showed what they are capable of
when they work as a team.
Right after the first whistle, S. Kuhan flicked to an unmarked Mirnawan
Nawawi who made a through pass to Saiful Azli on the left.
To the amazement of the crowd, Saiful fended off three defenders on the
goal-line and made a pass to Chairil Anwar for the fastest goal of the
tournament. Forty-five seconds flat and Malaysia were in the lead to the
chagrin of German goalkeeper Christian Schulte, who stood wondering what
went wrong.
Three minutes later, Suhaimi Ibrahim should have increased the lead when
he found himself face-to-face with Schulte. But his weak push let Germany
off the hook.
Man-to-man marking by the Malaysians made it a tight game. The team
looked more committed and fresh than they were when they lost 4-1 to New
Zealand and 2-1 to Canada.
After 15 minutes, the Germans were still unable to make a damaging move
in the Malaysian semicircle. Chua Boon Huat was then brought in for
Mirnawan. He took the armband and skippered the side for next 15 minutes.
In the 20th minute, the inevitable happened when Nor Azlan Bakar's
square pass to the right was intercepted by a German player.
Christian Wein punished Azlan dearly by snatching a soft equaliser. The
German side finally woke up from their slumber and in a two-minute blitz,
made the score 3-1.
First, Bjorn Wein tapped in a penalty corner goal in the 25th before
Stefan Saliger led a charging sortie two minutes later to push in the
third goal. A minute from the breather, Malaysia won their first penalty
corner of the match off a Kuhan attempt.
Suhaimi made up for his earlier miss when he tapped in a ball which
lingered on the goal-line for about 30 seconds while players from both
teams were locked in a melee.
At halftime, the score had narrowed down to 2-3.
After the breather, Germany found the going harder when Christian
Mayerhofer was sent to the sinbin for a bad tackle on Chairil Anwar.
Two minutes later, Chairil won Malaysia a penalty flick when his
stinging shot hit the body of a German player.
Kuhan stepped up to push in the equaliser in the 45th minute.
The thundering beat of the Fan Club kompang group, coupled with staunch
support from about 500 Pakistan supporters who stayed back after watching
the earlier match, heated up the atmosphere to the Malaysian advantage.
In the 55th minute, the Germans won a penalty corner and this time it
was Nor Azlan who saved the day but he gave away a long corner. Bjorn
Michael connected a good pass from the left to make the score 4-3.
MALAYSIA: Roslan Jamaluddin, Maninderjit Singh, Chua Boon Huat, Jiwa
Mohan, S. Kuhan, Indra Hadi, Madzli Ikmar, Suhaimi Ibrahim, M. Kaliswaran,
K. Keevan Raj, Mirnawan Nawawi, K. Logan Raj, Saiful Azli, Nasihin Nubli.
GERMANY: Christian Schulte, Arnold Clements, Jan Peter Tewes, Max Klink,
Stefan Saliger, Bjorn Michel, Sascha Reinett, Christian Kurtz, Christoph
Eimer, Bjorn Emmerling, Christian Wein, Michael Green, Tibor Weibenborn,
Christian Mayerhofer, Frank Gemming, Tobias Henschel.

It is still not too late to crack the whip, MHF


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) must check the rot in the national
hockey team fast if they want to see results as hosts of the 2002 World
After two matches - against New Zealand and Canada - in the Azlan Shah
Cup, several glaring shortcomings have been exposed. If the MHF do not do
anything at this stage, it would be embarrassing for Malaysian fans to sit
in the stands at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil in 2002.
The MHF argument that they are still in a stage of team rebuilding does
not hold water when the players cannot even master the basics of the
The present batch of youngsters do not have the basics to be called
hockey players. Making dead stops and accurate passes should not be a
problem once a player dons national colours but, sad to say, this is not
the case right now.
More training hours must be alloted to instill these basics because it
made the task of scoring field goals impossible.
The two goals which Malaysia have scored so far were off a penalty flick
and a penalty corner. Attempts at field goals proved futile because once
the players reach the semicircle, they tend to lose the ball due to poor
passing and stopping.
Pakistan players have learnt the basics to the hilt, resulting in the
ball glueing itself to their stick with magnetic force.
Perhaps the young South Korean side can provide some answers. During
Saturday's match against Pakistan, their team management's no-nonsense
attitude was greeted with a standing ovation by the majority of Pakistan
Muhammad Sarwar, who dribbled the entire South Korean defence with one
hand on the stick, made first choice goalkeeper Lim Jong Chun look like a
puppet when he pushed the ball between his legs.
Although Lim had made about five fantastic saves before this blunder, he
was promptly replaced by No 2 Lee Myung Ho.
Lee came in and played his heart out because he knew his hockey career
depended on how he stopped the speedy Pakistanis. And he did well to keep
the scoreline down.
On the other hand, Malaysian defender Chua Boon Huat, whose mistakes
cost us two goals against New Zealand, was given a second chance late in
the first half against Canada.
Chua played like a champion for five minutes but then decided he had won
over the coaches and took things for granted. His poor clearance in the
55th minute, a replica of what got Malaysia into trouble against the
Kiwis, doomed a fighting Malaysian side when Ken Pereira scored the
If Chua was with the Korean team, he would have been sent home on the
first available flight. It is harsh, but MHF must let the players know
that mistakes will no longer be tolerated.
Another Korean lesson is their never-say-die attitude. The Pakistan team
ran circles around them but whenever they found half a chance to go
forward, the whole Pakistan team were made to backpedal and jam their
semicircle to stop them from scoring.
Even when they were down 2-6 with three minutes of regulation time
remaining, the Koreans never stopped attacking. The feeling was that all
11 players still believed they could score five goals in three minutes and
beat the Pakistan team.
This is strangely lacking in the Malaysian side. Psychologically, we are
very weak. After taking a one-goal lead against Canada, the team played as
though they had won the tournament. And when Canada equalised, they hung
their heads even though there was ample time left.
Korean coach Jeon Jae Hong summed it up when he said: "If I had Mirnawan
Nawawi in my young side, even the Australians will be no match for us."
One man does not make a team, he can only make it better.
The most important lesson can be learnt from Anderson School of Ipoh.
Their manager Thasleem Mohamed has four teams under his wings and at any
given time, he has 80 players to choose from to field a team.
Right now, MHF have 45 players in the national pool but at any given
time, only about five players are ready for national callup. It is time to
expand the pool to 100 players and have two solid national sides at any
given time for international assignments.

Still not good enough


THEY were a transformed side and looked headed for a win until a defensive
slip-up allowed Canada to edge them in the Azlan Shah Cup at the National
Hockey Stadium yesterday.
The young Malaysian side, who were outplayed 4-1 by New Zealand on
Friday, were leading 1-0 from a fourth minute S. Kuhan goal until defender
Chua Boon Huat made a weak clearance in the 55th minute.
The ball was intercepted by a Canadian forward and a goalmouth melee
ensued from which Ken Pereira equalised.
Malaysia suffered another setback a minute later when Suhaimi Ibrahim
was sent to the sin-bin for an off-the-ball infringement.
Malaysia no longer had a full team and this was cruelly exposed in the
65th minute when Sean Campbell met a cross from the right and tapped the
ball into goal for the winner.
But it was a different Malaysia that started the match. They were all go
from the starting whistle and Chairil Anwar epitomised their new-found
spirit when he made a diving attempt and bruised his lips in the fall.
Unlike the side that went down tamely to New Zealand on Friday, Malaysia
yesterday fought for every ball and pinned the Canadian side in their own
half for long spells.
It came as no surprise when Malaysia took the lead. From a well-planned
sortie, skipper Mirnawan Nawawi won a penalty corner in the fourth minute
and S. Kuhan had all the time to push the ball which grazed a Canadian
defender's leg and went into goal.
But the Malaysian game slackened and they started losing easy balls.
Canada won their first penalty corner in the 11th minute and Roslan
Jamaluddin made a superb save from the ensuing attempt but the ball had
touched Maninderjit Singh's legs.
A second penalty corner was awarded and Roslan delighted the fans again
when he dived full length to palm away what looked like a sure goal.
Unfazed, Malaysia fought back with quick counterattacks.
K. Logan Raj and Chairil Anwar worked their way along the left in the
20th minute but when they found the opening, neither was prepared to take
a shot and lost the ball instead.
In the 25th minute, M. Jiwa and Chua, who had a poor game against New
Zealand, were brought in and they invigorated the right flank which was
hardly moving.
The last 10 minutes of the first half belonged to Malaysia and they were
all over the Canadian defence but failed to increase the lead.
Malaysia kept up the pace in the second half and immediately after play
started Logan Raj's pass found Mirnawan in the Canadian semicircle.
Although he had Suhaimi Ibrahim with him, Mirnawan decided to go on his
He dribbled past three defenders before hammering the ball which crossed
the Canadian goal and missed going in by centimetres.
Then came the bungle in the 55th minute which Pereira exploited and
Campbell broke the hearts of Malaysia in the 65th minute.
MALAYSIA: Roslan Jamaluddin, Maninderjit Singh, Chua Boon Huat, Jiwa
Mohan, S. Kuhan, Nor Azlan Bakar, Chairil Anwar, Madzli Ikmar, Suhaimi
Ibrahim, M. Kaliswaran, K. Keevan Raj, Mirnawan Nawawi, K. Logan Raj,
Shaiful Azli, Nasihin Nubli, Badrul Hisham.
CANADA: Hari Kant, Mike Mahood, Ian Bird, Alan Brahmst, Wayne Fernendes,
Paul Wettlaufer, David Yule, Andrew Griffiths, Ken Pereira, Scott Smith,
Peter Milkovich, Bindi Kullar, Rob Short, Ronnie Jagday, Sean Campbell,
Rick Roberts.

Badly written script


MALAYSIA ...... 1

PERHAPS it was opening day jitters but there can be no excuses as the
young Malaysian side struggled against New Zealand in their Sultan Azlan
Shah Cup match at the National Hockey Stadium yesterday.
Even during training matches the Malaysian side displayed better
understanding and commitment, unlike yesterday when they relied heavily on
captain Mirnawan Nawawi.
Not even the thundering beat of the Fan Club's kompang could awaken a
jaded-looking national team. Instead, it was New Zealand who danced to the
beat of the kompang, taking full advantage of the opportunities that came
their way.
Malaysia simply could not get moving, even when New Zealand were down to
nine men by the 15th minute.
New Zealand do not have a hockey team as such, but they had 11 players
who played consistently.
Malaysia could have taken the lead in the fifth minute when Chairil
Anwar found Mirnawan unmarked in the semicircle. The captain dribbled past
three players but could only win a penalty corner.
S. Kuhan took the penalty corner hit and missed by centimetres.
After that, there was no urgency in the Malaysian team and they were
New Zealand won their first penalty corner in the sixth minute but Nor
Azlan Bakar was there to stop a stinging shot only to give away another.
New Zealand took another direct shot which Nasihin Nubli saved.
Malaysia mounted a counter attack and K. Keevan Raj found Mirnawan who
only had goalkeeper Scott Anderson to beat from a narrow angle. Instead of
passing to M. Kaliswaran on the right, Mirnawan took a shot and missed.
Bevan Hari put New Zealand in the lead in the 12th minute, tapping in an
easy goal off a penalty corner.
New Zealand were down two men when Umesh Parag and Simon Towns were sent
off for rough play. But Malaysia chose not to press the advantage and
instead New Zealand pushed ahead with a goal in the dying seconds of the
first half.
Bradley Apted did not have to do much. He was at the right place at the
right time, collecting a bad clearance from defender Chua Boon Huat to tap
in the second goal.
After the breather, Malaysia still looked like they were in a trance and
allowed New Zealand to run rings around them.
The 250-strong kompang group went silent in the second half but the beat
resumed in the 48th minute when Malaysia were awarded a penalty corner by
umpire T. Fujimura for a stick check on Shaiful Azli.
S. Kuhan flicked from the spot to inject some hope.
But the joy was shortlived as Hari had the Malaysian defenders trailing
and hammered home his second and New Zealand's third goal in the 53rd
No thanks to Chua, New Zealand won a penalty corner in the 56th minute
and Ryan Archibald sounded the board to make it 4-1.
MALAYSIA: Nasihin Nubli, Roslan Jamaluddin, Maninderjit Singh, Jiwa
Mohan, Chua Boon Huat, S. Kuhan, Nor Azlan Bakar, Chairil Anwar, Indra
Hadi, Chairil Anwar, Indra Hadi, Madzli Ikmar, Suhaimi Ibrahim, K.
Kaliswaran, K. Keevan Raj, Mirnawan Nawawi, K. Logan Raj, Shaiful Azli,
Nasihin Nubli.
NEW ZEALAND: Simon Towns, Bradly Apted, Andrew Buckley, Darren Smith,
Wayne McIndoe, Andrew Hastie, John Radovonich, Dion Gosling, Brett Leaver,
Ryan Archibald, Umesh Parag, Greg Russ, Craig Russ, Bevan Hari, Scott
Anderson, Michael Bevin.
Umpires: T. Fujimura, Sumesh Putra. OTHER RESULTS
PAKISTAN ....... 6 CANADA ....... 3
GERMANY ........ 4 S KOREA ...... 3

Don't get your hopes up


THE Azlan Shah Cup, which starts today at the National Hockey Stadium in
Bukit Jalil, will reveal the true character of the young Malaysian side.
Finishing runners-up in last September's Commonwealth Games might have
many an ardent fan believing that a second miracle is not impossible. But
the truth of the matter is that while we may have potential world class
players in the squad, they have yet to be molded into a winning unit.
So fans must come prepared for disappointments because it will not be
smooth sailing for our youngsters. In all probability there will be more
tears than cheers.
Coach Stephen van Huizen, handed the task of rebuilding the team with
the Olympic qualifiers in Osaka next March in mind, said he will have his
hands full during the next eight days but he is sure his young brigade
will give their all and more on the pitch.
Team manager R. Yogeswaran said that such is the push and shove for
places in his young training squad that the selectors have a hard time
deciding on their lineup for any assignment.
The young players know that to make the 2002 World Cup squad, they must
start delivering now and there's no place like home to start doing so.
Winning the Azlan Shah Cup is a distant dream, but making the semifinals
of the 2002 World Cup is within Malaysia's reach.
New Zealand and Canada are the only two teams the Malaysians have a
chance of beating here. Forget Pakistan, Germany and South Korea because
they are away ahead.
Nor Saiful Zaini, R. Shankar and Lailin Abu Hassan who helped Malaysia
win the Commonwealth Games silver, are no longer around and it would be
too much to expect K. Logan Raj and company to deliver.
Nevertheless, it will be good to see our young team pit their skills
against the giants and in the process gain some valuable exposure and
The Malaysia Hockey Federation (MHF) took a bold step and the correct
one when they formed a pool of young national trainees and stopped banking
on the old guard.
The only veterans left are captain Mirnawan Nawawi, S. Kuhan, Chairil
Anwar and M. Kaliswaran but even with their experience Malaysia will find
it tough against Pakistan, South Korea or Paul Lissek's seasoned Germany.
The Germans came within a whisker of lifting the Cup last year but lost
to Australia in a penalty shootout. However, they won it in 1987.
Malaysia's recent record in the Azlan Shah Cup speaks for itself,
finishing last in Ipoh last year. Their best finish was in 1985 when they
lost to India in the final.
But hockey fans must make a beeline for the National Hockey Stadium
because the foreign teams will be fielding their best sides. Some of the
players have seen action at the Utrecht World Cup and the Champions Trophy
in Lahore last year.
Pakistan, the almost-there boys having lost in the finals in 1983, 1987,
1991 and 1994, have Shahbaz Junior back in the team and will be looking to
lift the Cup.
South Korea, champions in in 1996, are out to avenge their defeat to
India in the Asian Games final in December.
Canada are another interesting story. Malaysia beat them in the
semifinals of the KL Games but it is not going to be easy this time
Coach Shiaz Virjee said that Canada will field their strongest side in
preparation for the Pan-American Games in July.
In last Tuesday's friendly the teams drew 2-2 but it would be foolish to
look upon that as an indicator.

Olak retain nine for junior league


DOUBLE champions Old La Sallians of Klang (OLAK) retained nine players
from last year's team and look good for a repeat in the MHF-Milo-NSC
Junior League, which begins on April 16.
Other than Electrical Switchgears Automation (ESA) of Penang, Olak are
the only team who have turned out consistently in the Junior League.
They have never missed taking part since its inception in 1995.
And this year is expected to be no different as the Olak fans travel
from venue to venue waving the old and discoloured banner, claiming Olak
The cash-strapped team showed that money does not make champions.
"We still do not have a strong sponsor for our cause and will make do
with the resources that we have," said Olak assistant coach Joseph de
"The players know Olak can't afford to give them anything but training,
so they will be playing for the winners purse again."
With five players from the national pool in his team this year, De
Silva's team look to have what it takes to win at least one title.
Saiful Azhar, Mohamed Shahrul Shawal, Mohamed Amin Rahim, Ridzuan
Ponirin and Shahrizal Zainal Abidin have been training with the national
pool and will play a crucial role in helping Olak win at least one title
this year.
When the League was incepted in 1995, Yayasan Negri Sembilan won both
the titles and a year later, it was ESA who did a double.
In 1997 Olak won the League while ESA won the Overall title.
Coach V. Kalaichelvam, who has trained Olak for the past five years,
will only need to brush up on teamwork.
Together with Johor Sports Council, Malacca Municipal Council and Perak
Sports Council, Olak were a class above the rest last year.

Saravanan and Yeo out early


BANGKOK Asian Games exponents Malcolm Joseph Yeo and S. Saravanan made an
early exit at the National Taekwondo Championship at the National Sports
Council hall in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
This spells bad news for the duo as the national championship will count
when the selectors pick the squad for the Brunei Sea Games.
Kung was beaten in the bantamweight quarterfinals by Mohamed Ramlan of
Terengganu while featherweight Saravanan gave a walkover in his semifinals
after tearing a hamstring muscle in the quarterfinals.
Saravanan may be given another chance to prove he is worthy of Sea Games
selection but yesterday he was one disappointed exponent.
"I had trained very hard for the national championship," said the
Pahang-born Saravanan.
"But after I injured my left leg in the quarterfinals, my coach did not
want me to aggravate the injury so we gave a walkover."
Sea Games team manager Dhanaraj Rassiah, who is also Saravanan's coach,
said there was no reason to push the exponent to the limit now because he
will face a bigger test in August.
"It is better he rests now and nurse his injury. Our target is a medal
in Brunei," said Dhanraj.
The 1995 Chiangmai Sea Games bronze medallist suffered the same fate
last year when he pulled a muscle in the semifinals. He was the national
champion in his category from 1994 to 1996.
On the other hand, the 19-year-old Kung has never won any national
championships and neither has he seen any action at the Sea Games level.
Results - Featherweight: 1 Jimmy Julius (Police), 2 N. Kesavan (KLTC), 3
Cameron Leon Ng (UWPTA), S. Saravanan.
Heavweight: 1 Zainol Abas (Forces), 2 A. Jegathesan (NS), 3 Chong Kim
Leng (Perak), Woo Hong Wai (Bangsar FTC).

Van Huizen looking at 2000


NATIONAL hockey coach Stephen van Huizen prefers too see beyond next
month's Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. He wants his young side to qualify for the
2000 Olympics and create an impression in the 2002 World Cup to be held in
Kuala Lumpur.
Although he has the material to form a good side, he prefer to move
gradually forward.
"After watching them play the friendlies against the Australian
Institute of Sports (AIS) and the Western Australian Institute of Sports
(WAIS), I know what the players are capable of.
"Pushing them to the limit is not the right thing to do now. The Azlan
Shah Cup will be used as an exposure for the young side and we will like
to move gradually," said van Huizen.
The fans may be asking for too much if they expect this side to beat
Germany, Pakistan, South Korea, Canada and New Zealand on April 2-10.
In fact, a win against any of the teams is surely a cause to celebrate
as side is fairly young and inexperience.
Never mind, even if we finish at the bottom of the six-team tournament.
The exposure alone will be great experience.
Not many people knew of goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin before the
Commonwelath Games but his confidence grew with every match and at the
end, he played a pivotal role in helping Malaysia win a silver medal.
Van Huizen hopes a handful of Roslans will emerge after the Azlan Shah
"What the players need right now is a nudge in the right direction. A
shove into the mainstream will damage their confidence and will serve no
Jiwa Mohan, Indra Hadi, Izwan Shuardi Selamat, V. Vasanthan and Chua
Boon Huat displayed flashes of brilliance in the friendlies.
"I hate to give excuses for a poor performance. But the reality is that
we have a very young side which needs more matches to grow."
Though MHF's 2001 and senior team come from the same pool of players, in
reality, take away Maninderjit Singh, Mirnawan Nawawi and Chairil Anwar
from the senior squad and you are left with the 2001 team.
MHF deputy president Datuk Seri P. Alagendra said that arrangements to
employ German coach Paul Lissek will be done by the National Sports
Should Lissek accept the offer, he will be the techinical director of
the development programme and will oversee the local coaches who would be
handling the various national teams.
Azlan Shah Cup fixtures - April 2: Malaysia v New Zealand (4.05); Canada
v Pakistan (6.05); Korea v Germany (8.05).
April 3: Malaysia v Canada (5.35); Pakistan v Korea (7.35).
April 4: Germany v New Zealand (6.05).
April 5: South Korea v Canada (4.05); New Zealand v Pakistan (6.05);
Germany v Malaysia (8.05).
April 6: Pakistan v Malaysia (6.05).
April 7: Canada v Germany (5.35); Korea v New Zealand (7.35).
April 8: Germany v Pakistan (4.05); Malaysia v Korea (6.05); Canada v
New Zealand (8.05).
April 10: 5th placing match (8.05am); 3rd placing match (4.05); Final

Malaysia still showing bad habits


THE journey to success is long and winding for the young national side who
lost 2-0 in the fifth and final friendly at the National Hockey Stadium
After five friendlies against the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS),
it was evident that we have good players but a bad team.
Individual flair is abundant as demonstrated by S. Kuhan, K. Logan Raj,
K. Keevan Raj and almost every other player who was given the chance to
play against the Australians.
Now, if only they can work together and not get agitated by robust play,
half the battle is won.
Yesterday was another typical day for Steven van Huizen's boys who
fought like lions for possession in the first half but lost steam and
allowed in two of the simplest of goals in the second.
"The players will rest for three days and report for training on
Monday," said van Huizen.
"And while they rest, the coaches and team manager will review
recordings on the five friendlies and come out with solutions. There is no
place for excuses."
Van Huizen agreed that when push comes to shove, the national players
take things personally.
"It was evident in the five matches that when play became robust and
there is a bit of pushing, the Australian players continue playing while
the Malaysians retaliate and lose vital seconds.
"We aim to put a stop to this."
Van Huizen tried out a mixed team yesterday and switched the positions
of several players to bring the best out of them.
It worked in the first half when the virtually Project 2001 squad held
AIS to a draw.
But after the breather, confusion reigned and any shape of a team was
All it took the Australians to go ahead was a simple tap from Ben Taylor
in the 48th minute which caught the entire defence by surprise, even
goalkeeper Izwan Suhardi Selamat stood rooted while the ball slipped
through between his pads.
The second goal in the 66th minute was unforgivable. Gavis Davis turned
for a reverse stick shot from the top of the semicircle and while the
Malaysians were appealing for an infrigment, the ball again rolled between
Izwan's pads.
The Australians won the series 5-0, 3-2, 3-1 and 2-0 while the national
squad had a 2-0 lead in the second friendly but the match was abandoned
due to bad weather.
AIS coach David Bell came with a mission which his team accomplished.
"We tried several combinations and although the players did not play as
well as I would have liked, I am happy with the friendlies."
Four junior players who were on trial in the friendlies managed to charm
Bell with their stick-work.
"Goalkeeper Mark Hickman and forwards Travis Brooks, Robert Hammond and
Craig Victory are part of the team preparing for the 2001 Junior World Cup
and they displayed their best at the friendlies."

BoC agree to loan van Huizen until 2001


BANK of Commerce, employers of national hockey coach Stephen van Huizen,
demonstrated corporate responsibility when they released him for national
service until 2001.
"I received a letter from BOC yesterday stating that they have agreed to
release van Huizen until 2001 to enable him to concentrate on building a
strong national team," said National Sports Council (NSC) director general
Datuk Mazlan Ahmad.
"The NSC would like to thank them for their generosity."
Van Huizen said he was grateful to his employers for releasing him.
"In the past, they have been supportive. With the latest move, they have
made my life easier because now, I don't have to worry about my bread and
butter," said van Huizen.
"I no longer have to run around and rely on weekends and my annual leave
to train the players."
The bank had released him for three years in preparation for the last
year's Commonwealth Games and extended it by another three months for the
Bangkok Asian Games last December.
Van Huizen had three options - take no-pay leave and continue coaching;
resign from the bank to take charge of the national squad fulltime; or go
back to work and coach part-time.
NSC, however, wanted him fulltime and pursued the matter with his
employers. Van Huizen is one of the most capable coaches in the country
and his stint as an assistant involved stints with former national coaches
Terry Walsh in preparing for the 1990 Beijing Asian Games and Volker Knapp
for last year's World Cup in Utrecht.
He also worked with Paul Lissek for the KL Commonwealth Games.
Mazlan clarified that if they succeed in hiring German coach Lissek on a
fulltime basis, after his contract with the German Hockey Federation
expires, he will be appointed as a technical director.
In this capacity he will oversee the national team, the Project 2001
squad and the Under-16 team.

Look out! The bad boys are coming


CANADA who made their Azlan Shah Cup debut in 1995 have promised they will
be better when they return for the 1999 tournament scheduled for April 2-
Canada, although they drew 2-2 with Malaysia in 1995, finished fifth in
the six-team tournament, ahead of the hosts who clinched the equaliser
through Nor Saiful Zaini during injury time.
Their cordial relationship turned sour when Malaysia qualified for the
Olympics ahead of Canada. The Canadians accused Malaysia and India of
fixing to play to a draw and keep them out of the Olympics.
When they met again at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, Malaysia won
2-1. Some irate Canadian players broke chairs and defaced billboards after
the match.
The past has been colourful but the Canadians have promised to stick to
hockey and avoid incidents on and off the pitch.
Coach Shiaz Virjee sounded an early warning when he said the team are
stronger than the one that played at the Commonwealth Games.
"There are several changes and although not all the pieces are in place
yet, we have a stronger side," said Shiaz.
"We will have two players who have never been to Malaysia before but the
rest are experienced. We are preparing for the Pan American Games later
this year and the Azlan Shah Cup will be an excellent evaluation for the
The youngest player is Paul Wettlaufer, 21, with 21 caps while the
oldest is Alan Brahmst, 34, with 121 caps.
"Five players have been playing in Europe - two in England and three in
Holland - and their experience will be of great value," said Shiaz.
"All the players are looking forward to playing in Malaysia as the
prospects of meeting Pakistan, New Zealand, Germany, South Korea and
Malaysia will be very exciting."
Malaysia, or rather the Project 2001 squad, last played Canada in the
Five-Nation in Cairo in February and the toast of the team was 22-year-old
captain S. Kuhan, who hammered in two goals off penalty corners.
Chairil Anwar, the oldest player in the team at 26, clinched the winner
off a field goal. The Canadians managed to score two goals.
But in the third-fourth placing match, Canada won 2-0.
Malaysia open their campaign against New Zealand on April 2 at the
National Hockey Stadium and it would be a big test for the young side
without stalwarts R. Shanker and Nor Saiful Zaini who retired after the
Commonwealth Games.
The Canadians will play a warmup match against Malaysia on March 30 and
another against the Project 2001 squad the following day at the National
Hockey Stadium.
Canada - Goalkeepers: Hari Kant, Mike Mahood; Defenders: Ian Bird, Alan
Brahmst, Sean Campbell, Robin D'Abreo, Ronnie Jagday, Rick Roberts;
Midfield: Bindi Kullar, Peter Milkovich, Ken Preira.
Forwards: Andrew Griffiths, Rob Short, Scott Smith, Paul Wettlaufer,
David Yule.

Two-goal Kalis fails to stop AIS


MALAYSIA ... 2 AIS ... 3
M. KALISWARAN finally found his scoring touch after a long dry spell but
it was not enough for Malaysia to beat the Australian Institute of Sports
(AIS) team in their third friendly at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
In the end, a handful of mistakes by defenders Chua Boon Huat, S. Kuhan and Nor Azlan Bakar allowed AIS an easy 3-2 win.
The first half was fast and furious and tempers flared as both sides
made attempts at goal.
But after an uncalled for infringement in the fifth minute which
resulted in a penalty stroke, Malaysia were doomed.
A through pass by Graig Davis from the centre found an unmarked Travis Brooks at the top of the semicircle, who turned to hammer home but a charging Izwan Suhardi brought him down. The umpire blew for a penalty stroke.
Michael McCann sent Izwan stretching for a save but the ball missed his
palms by inches for the Aussies to take the lead.
Ten minutes into play and Malaysia still could not break past the
Aussies' 25-yard line while the AIS players were having a gala time in the
Malaysian semicircle.
Only bad luck stopped them from surging ahead. In the final minutes of
the first half, Malaysia were awarded their first penalty corner but Kuhan
pushed wide.
After the breather, Kaliswaran received a pass from K. Logan Raj in the
38th minute for a reverse stick goal which injected some semblance of
cohesion into the Malaysian game.
After playing like champions in the next few minutes, a mistake by the
defenders saw McCann create an opening for Craig Victory to send his team ahead.
In the 62nd minute, Chairil Anwar dribbled past two players in the
middle of the pitch and sent the ball to an unmarked Kaliswaran to place
the Malaysians on level again.
The match belonged to Malaysia after that but in the 65th minute,
Victory tapped in his second and AIS' third.
The fourth friendly will be played at 9am tomorrow.

Kota Tinggi make Junior League debut


TWELVE teams confirmed participation for the MHF-Milo-NSC Junior League when entries closed at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil
The number of entries is the same as last year. Kota Tinggi Sports
School, the second sports school in the country, are the newcomers this
"Electrical Switchgears Automation (ESA) submitted an incomplete entry form and we have given them until tomorrow (today) to submit full details or risk being disqualified," said MHF secretary S. Satgunam.
The good news is that Project 2001 players will not be barred from
taking part in the League.
"MHF want them to play as many matches as possible. This year, the
League will be played at eight venues, viz Universiti Sains Malaysia,
Azlan Shah Stadium, National Hockey Stadium, Kota Tinggi Sports School, Pandamaran Stadium, MPPJ Stadium, Tun Razak Stadium and Seremban Dua Stadium.
"There will be 12 matches a week and the final will be on June 6," said
Perak Malays, Andersonians, Petaling Jaya Municipal Council and Tampin District are making a comeback after skipping the tournament last season.
Teams who took part last year but did not submit entries this season are
Kedah Sports Council, Klang Municipal Council, Terengganu Youth Club,
Perak Sports Council and Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia.
Last season, Old La Sallians of Klang (Olak) were crowned as double
champions. In the fight for the overall title, they beat Malacca Municipal
Council (MMC) 2-1.
The opening match will be between Olak and Malacca Municipal Council on April 6.
The teams: Electrical Switchgears Automation (ESA), Malacca Municipal Council, Johor Sports Council, Old La Sallians Klang (Olak), Bukit Jalil Sports School, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Yayasan Negri Sembilan, Perak Malays, Ipoh Andersonians, Petaling Jaya Municipal Council, Tampin District, Kota Tinggi Sports School.

MHF to pick up tab on lodging


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) will bear the cost of housing the 16 teams for the 2002 World Cup, a factor which probably won Kuala Lupur the bid in Brussels last week.
MHF deputy president Datuk Seri P. Alagendra said yesterday that in
addition to the excellent facilities, fan support and organisational
skills of Malaysia, free accommodation was an item
mentioned in the 125-page bid paper.
"The offer must have impressed the International Hockey Federation
(FIH). It is an extension of Malaysian hospitality," said Alagendra.
Come 2002, Kuala Lumpur would be the only city to have hosted the
tournament twice. The first was in 1975 when Malaysia finished fourth
behind champions India, Pakistan and Germany.
"I am confident we will be able to stage a smooth, well-coordinated and
attractive tournament. We will make the 2002 World Cup the best and most
memorable ever," said Alagendra.
To accommodate the expected huge fan support, MHF plan to add another
3,000 fully covered seats at the National Hockey Stadium and additional
1,000 to the second stadium.
"This will increase the capacity at the main stadium to 15,000 and to
3,000 at the second stadium. At last year's Commonwealth Games, more than
15,000 people packed the main stadium whenever Malaysia played."
Spivs also did brisk business outside the National Hockey Stadium, where
RM10 tickets were sold at six times the price due to overwhelming demand.
On team preparations, Alagendra said the current method of utilising a
pool of coaches will remain until the 2002 World Cup. Foreign expertise
would only be sought if necessary.
"We have capable managers and coaches like Ho Koh Chye, R. Yogeswaran,
Poon Fook Loke, Yahya Atan, Colin sta Maria, Steven van Huizen and Wallace
Tan. They are doing a fine job training the pool of 45 national trainees,"
he said.
"We will only evaluate the system after the Olympic qualifiers in Osaka
in March.
"If there is no need for foreign help, the pool of coaches will manage
the 2002 attempt as well."
MHF, who will form the 2002 organising committee after the Azlan Shah
Cup in April, will promote the World Cup via a regular bulletin, a
tournament website and a roadshow.
"We hope to hold a first-ever tournament draw similar to that of the
soccer World Cup. This gala affair will be held three to six months before
the 2002 World Cup."
Today, the national team will play their third friendly against the
visiting Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) team at the National Hockey
Stadium at 8.0pm.
After a 5-0 hammering in the first friendly, the Malaysian side won 2-0
in a rain shortened match on Saturday.
It would be interesting to see what Minarwan Nawawi can inject into the
team. Minarwan, who just completed his university examinations, might
feature prominently in team manager Yogeswaran's plans.
However, Sports Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in a contradictory
statement yesterday, said they were prepared to hire a foreign coach to
prepare the national team for 2002.