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.