Saturday, June 9, 2007

India punish defensive hosts


MALAYSIA opted for a defensive side and in the process handed the
inaugural Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) Under-19 Four-Nation
Invitational title to India at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil
Unlike the pool matches where the Malaysians enjoyed every minute on the
artificial turf, yesterday, they looked scared and jittery - waiting for
the final horn to blow even before the match was 10 minutes in play.
And just minutes after the final whistle, three players from the Under-
19 squad and one from the seniors stunned the MHF.
Under-19 trio Mohamed Suffian, Mohamed Sallehin Ghani and Shahrun Nabil
and senior player Ismail Abu handed their quit letters to the parent body
in which they stated they want to concentrate on their studies and will
not be joining the seniors in training.
"It is very unbecoming of them to send the quit letters after the Under-
19 tournament because if they had sent it earlier, we would not have
included them and instead given three other players a chance to play in
the Four-Nation," said MHF secretary S. Satgunam.
The four players, who quit national training, will not be allowed to
play in the Feb 7 Junior Hockey League.
"If they want to rest from the senior squad, they might as well be given
a break from the JHL too so that they can concentrate on their studies,"
said Satgunam.
India won a first minute penalty corner which set the tone of the match.
Gurucharn Singh placed the ball at the top of the Malaysian goalmouth but
goalkeeper Khairul Nizam was quick enough to put it away.
However, India were back at full throttle despite some of their players
spending time in the sin-bin while Malaysia played up to 50 back passes in
the first half.
In the 15th minute, a blundering back-pass in the Malaysian semi-circle
led to Tushar Khandekar making a soft tap at goal, beating an outstretched
In the 30th minute, India were reduced to 10 men when Vivek Gupta was
flashed the yellow card but despite this, the Malaysians had their back to
the wall.
Four minutes later, skipper Prabodh Tirkey scored from a penalty corner
to give India a 2-0 lead at half-time.
The second half turned into a real surprise for the 3,000-odd fans who
saw a different Malaysian side. They played better hockey and eliminated
the back-passes.
Indian defender K.P. Roy was next to visit the sin-bin in the 40th
minute as play became robust and he stayed out for a good 15 minutes but
Malaysia still could not get their act together.
The only good attempt came from Fairus Hamsani whose penalty corner
attempt in the 43rd minute met the post.
Malaysia received three consecutive penalty corners from the 58th minute
but all came to nought.
India, however, capitalised on a blunder two minutes later when Vinay
crashed the ball to the top of the Malaysian goalmouth to make it 3-0.
In the playoff for third and fourth placings, Pakistan hammered South
Korea 7-0 with goals from Mahmood Ali (15th, 67th, 68th), Naeem Akhbar
(21st), Mohamed Imran (30th, 59th) and Tariq Aziz (35th).
Malaysia's coach Stephen van Huizen was happy with the way his charges
progressed, but rued the missed chances.
"It was from a defensive mistake when Izwan Hassan tried to break free
and India scored the first goal. We could have made a comeback, but missed
too many penalty corners and when the third goal was scored, the match was
over," said Stephen.
It was Van Huizen's final hockey assignment as his contract with MHF
expired on Dec 31.
Awards - Fair Play - Malaysia; Most Promising Player: Yasir Islam (Pak);
Best Player of Tournament: Prabodh Tirkey (Ind); Man of the Final:
Gurucharn Singh (Ind). MALAYSIA .....................0 INDIA .................... 3
Tushar Khandekar (15th)
Prabodh Tirkey (34th)
Vinay (60th)
PAKISTAN .................... 7 SOUTH KOREA .............. 0
Mahmood Ali (2nd, 67th, 68th)
Naeem Akhbar (21st)
Mohamed Imran (30th, 59th)
Tariq Aziz (35th)

Prove your worth, Malaysia


MALAYSIA were not very impressive, but since they are in today's final of
the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) Under-19 Four-Nation International
Invitation, they should grab the bull by the horns.
Under-19 coach Stephen van Huizen, on his `swan song' assignment,
admitted yesterday that it wil not be easy to beat India at the National
Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, but the boys will play their hearts out,
and go for an upset.
Stephen will be back to his desk job with a bank after the Four-Nation,
as he has reached a stalemete in negotiating his contract with MHF, which
expired on Dec 31.
"India are clearly the better side. They are more matured as compared to
our boys and it will be a tough match," said Stephen.
"But although India will start as favourites tomorrow (today) Malaysia
will give them a run for the money and if our plan works, we might just
end up as the best juniors in Asia."
By emerging tops in a junior tournament where the best in Asia - India,
Pakistan and South Korea - are also involved, will be a big boost to the
national side. The psychological effect will carry through to when these
players grow up and face the same opposing players in the near future.
Malaysia, with clearly some of the best juniors assembled for a long
time, have shown themselves to be very shaky and easily rattled in the
last 10 minutes of play.
In all three matches in the Four-Nation, Malaysia had to come from a
goal down and played badly in the last 10 minutes.
"There is a plus side in their comebacks, because it shows they are not
easily broken. But the minus side is that if they fail to score the
equaliser and the clock keeps ticking away, they might end up losing with
a bigger margin because the defence will be compromised as everyone pushes
forward," said Stephen.
The penalty corners are still not working while India have a specialist
in the making - Gurucharn Singh.
"India have a few variations and they have been working well but the
same can't be said about my players. Maybe they need more time to learn
some of the new set-pieces," said Stephen.
India attack and defend in numbers and their dangermen are skipper
Prabodh Tirkey and Vinay.
Prabodh and Vinay have an excellent one-two understanding and in the
end, they usually find Gurucharn to take the final crack at goal.
"We have been watching India's matches on video and have identified
their strong as well as weak points. If the boys follow instructions, we
have a fighting chance of denying India the title."
In the preliminary match, Malaysia held India 1-1. Tushar Khandekar
scored in the 44th minute but Malaysia equalised four minutes later
through a Izwan Hassan penalty corner goal.
So, with the odds stacked against Malaysia, they might as well attack
without fear as they have nothing to lose.

Project Squad gain experience


Fazreen Ehasan 70th Vinay 32nd,
Tushar Khandekar 40th,
Gurucharn Singh 50th,
Jatinder Pal Singh 30th
Naeem Akhbar 13th,
Mahmood Ali 50th, 51st,
Mohamed Imran 65th,
Tariq Aziz 67th
THE Malaysia Project Squad ended their Under-19 Four-Nation Invitational
by getting a 4-1 lesson from India at the National Hockey Stadium last
The Project Squad, made up mainly of Under-16 players, scored a total of
two goals in the four matches and conceeded 14 goals - not too bad
considering they were up against some of the best juniors in Asia.
Yesterday, the Project Squad defended well but a silly backpass in the
33rd minute was punished with a Vinay field goal.
That goal broke their back, and it was easy for India to pile up the
pressure and score three more. Tushar Khandekar (40th), Gurucharn Singh
(50th) and Jatinder Pal Singh sounded the board before Fazreen Ehsan
scored for Project Squad in the 70th minute.
Team manager Kon Chen Choong was happy with the way his boys stood up to
the physically better players in the Four-Nation.
"We entered the Project Squad in this tournament so that they will get a
feel of playing at the international level, something that is a luxury
when you are in a transition period," said Kon.
Some of the boys will be `too old' for the Under-16 squad and `too
young' to be drafted into the Under-19 squad - a problem that must be
addressed by MHF if they do not want to lose talent.
"The next International tournament for the Asian Under-16 is in March in
Bangladesh, but by then, half the present batch would have turned 17.
"They will also be too young to be drafted into the Under-19 squad, and
we might lose them if nothing is done soon," said Kon.
The only solution is for MHF to form a squad for those in the 17 to 18
age bracket.
Meanwhile, in the Korea-Pakistan match which ended 5-0, Pakistan
delivered the first killer blow in the 13th minute off a Naeem Akhbar
goal. The other goals were scored by Mahmood Ali (50th, 51st), Mohamed
Imran (65th), Tariq Aziz (67th).
Today: REST DAY; Tomorrow - Third-fourth: South Korea v Pakistan (3pm);
Final: Malaysia v India (5.30pm).

Nadzmi: Local players too `manja'


THE BA of Malaysia have chewed on it, but have found the prospect of
turning Malaysian shuttlers into fulltime professionals quite unpalatable,
because it might be too "taxing".
BAM president Datuk Nadzmi Salleh said yesterday that they are at a
crossroad because by turning loose a select group of shuttlers to source
for, and play under their own sponsor's banner, could deprive BAM of
development funds for the juniors.
"We have discussed the issue but came up against a wall. It is true that
Malaysian shuttlers can't be called professionals as they still depend
heavily on the parent body to house, feed and clothe them.
"Unlike us, European players have their own sponsors for international
tournaments and only play under their respective BAs in team tournaments
like the Thomas Cup and Commonwealth Games.
"The Malaysian shuttlers, to a certain degree, are a spoilt lot, but we
can't change the present system because the juniors will suffer," said
Not to mention that if players turn professional, the taxman gets a
share of their winnings too. The money for playing badminton is very
lucrative, if one breaks into the top-32 in the world ranking.
For the senior players, BAM pays each player a monthly salary of RM1,300
to attend training while for the back-up shuttlers, the monthly salary is
Some of the national shuttlers are also employed elsewhere, like Wong
Choon Hann, who is with Maybank and Ismail Saman, who is with the Police,
and thus receive salaries from two sources.
Ong Ewe Hock, presently embroiled in a bitter dispute with BAM, is not
employed but he was receiving a handsome sum for being World No 2.
Under the BAM incentive scheme, a player who gets to be the World No 1
or No 2, the payout is RM15,000 a month. BAM hands over the money on a
quarterly basis, which means a cool RM45,000 every three months for the
high ranking.
The incentive for being ranked No 3 or No 4 is RM12,000 a month. BAM
also pays incentives to players who break into the top-32 in the world.
Players receive between US$8,000 and US$12,000 for winning a four-star
or five-star tournament and BAM lets them keep it all, and tops up another
RM10,000 for the title. And then, there is also a President's bonus of 25
per cent of the title money.
Players in Europe are not only taxed on their winnings but also pay
their associations to train.
Nadzmi fears that sponsors, who are hard to come by these days, might
find it more lucrative to back an individual who has reached world level,
and sever ties with BAM because developing juniors does not bring instant
"Even the sponsors are not ready to put all their money on a single
player because if he fails, then their product will look bad. But if they
decide, in the near future, to start on individuals, then junior
development will suffer."
Nadzmi does not forsee a change, even in the next five to 10 years, in
the system which has made the players `manja'(pampared).
"The system has made them too `manja'. Now they feel that it is their
right to receive training allowances, food and accommodation once they
become national players.
"They fail to see it as goodwill extended to them by BAM and not their
right," said Nadzmi.
That is why, Nadzmi feels players need to abide by the rules set by
their employers, until such time that they have their own sponsors, and no
longer have reason to pick on small issues like food and accommodation.
"Now they are very vocal about the treatment they receive from BAM. Some
even complain about food and accommodation, but can they do the same if
they rely on fulltime sponsors?
"They will think twice before making any statements because the sponsors
will pull out if it is negative," said Nadzmi.
Ong found out the hard way when he went against his employers.
He was issued a showcause letter on Dec 3 last year by BAM for
criticising the national association's decision to appoint a local as head
coach of the national team.
The player also lashed out at former secretary Zolkples Embong, accusing
him of having an ulterior motive for suggesting that Ong look at coaching
as an option.
BAM hauled him up for a Disciplinary Board hearing on Jan 2, but Ong
failed to show up and in his absence, the DB is believed to have
recommended the player be suspended for one year from all competitions.

Bruising draw with Pakistan takes its toll


(Sufian Mohamed 26th, 63rd; S. Selvaraju 29th)
Malaysia Project Squad .........................0
THE bruising 2-2 draw against Pakistan on Wednesday took its toll on the
Malaysian hockey team and high on the injury list entering into the final
of the Under-19 Four-Nation International Invitational is defender S.
Team doctor, Dr S.S. Cheema is worried that Bubalan's back injury could
floor him for a few weeks.
"Bubalan took a nasty knock and injured his back while playing against
Pakistan, I will be monitoring his case closely and advise the team
management tomorrow (today) morning whether he is fit to play in the final
or not," said Dr Cheema.
Bubalan was benched for the match against Malaysia Project Squad
The others, like Izwan Hassan, have picked up minor bruises and should
be ready for the final on Sunday. Initially, there was concern on the
state of skipper Engku Abdul Malek, after he received a nasty knock on the
head during the opening 3-1 win over South Korea, but Engku was fielded in
the match against Pakistan and he showed no signs of weakness caused by
the concussion he suffered from the knock.
Yesterday, the Malaysian Under-19 squad played against the Malaysia
Project Squad team and the outcome was a predictable 3-0. The Malaysian
Under-19 goalscorers were Sufian Mohamed (26th, 63rd) and S. Selvaraju
But what was not predictable before the start of the Four-Nation was the
change in attitude of some players who now feel that they have reached the
`star' status.
The most glaring one was Megat Azrifiq Termizi, who wore the skipper's
armband when Engku was rested against India, and played a superb role to
secure a 1-1 draw, but he saw too many `stars' in the match against
Some of the senior coaches who watched him trying to show off, and
making numerous mistakes in the process, felt that he needs to be benched
in the final to remove the chip on his shoulders.
"Maybe those who handle the team should send a clear warning to all the
juniors so that they will not dare to have an attitude on the pitch when
they mature into the senior squad," said a veteran coach.
Malaysia will take a break today and meet India to decide who wins the
inaugural Under-19 Four-Nation International Invitational on Sunday.
In the preliminary rounds, Malaysia struggled to a 1-1 draw against
India and it will be interesting to see how much they have learnt since.
Today: Malaysia Project Squad v India (6pm), South Korea v Pakistan
(8pm); Tomorrow: REST DAY; Sunday: Third-Fourth (3pm), Final (5.30pm).

Father-Son carnival soon


THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) coaching committee will be
organising the inaugural Father-Son Hockey Carnival on Feb 15-16 at the
Royal Selagor Club, Bukit Kiara grounds.
The idea was mooted by the committee, headed by Datuk R. Yogeswaran, to
get parents involved in a big way at grassroots level.
"The idea is to get parents involved in hockey so that Malaysia will
have a bigger pool of players to select from in the future. Once we get
the full support of parents, it will become easier to start developing
hockey at grassroots," said coaching committee secretary Dr Balbir Singh.
To take part in the carnival, a team needs to have three `sons' and two
"The inaugural carnival is aimed to not only teach the basics, but also
let the teams enjoy a game of hockey. That is why the composition of the
team was set at two fathers and three sons.
"There must also be a healthy balance of racial mix, because we also
want hockey to play the role of racial assimilator.
"The duration of the match will be six minutes each half, and will be
played on a grass pitch measuring 20 metres by six metres."
The carnival is open to players in the age group of 8-12, and for
starters, it will concentrate on teams in the Klang Valley.
"The programme is designed based on the Australian model, where parents
play a big role in teaching their children the right basics before they
pick up `bad hockey habits' which will hamper development for the rest of
their lives.
"Once parents get involved, they can then play a more active role in
developing grassroots hockey at their children's schools," said Dr Balbir.
The closing date for registration is Jan 21, and forms can be obtained
from Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association secretary V. Rajamanickam and
Selangor Hockey Association secretary S. Tamilselvam.
For details, call Dr Balbir at 012-2378031.

India, Malaysia march into final


Gurucharn Singh 1st
Tushar Khandekar 39th, 69th
Vinay 42nd
Izwan Hassan 12th, Naeem Akhbar 3rd
Sufian Mohd 45th, Mohamed Imran 55th,
IT WAS a gut-wrenching match, as Malaysia needed a draw while Pakistan a win to reach the final, but in the end, the boys in yellow booked a spot against India in the final of the Four-Nation Under-19 International Invitational at the National Hockey Stadium last night.
The 2-2 draw gave Malaysia five points from three matches while
Pakistan, even with the match against South Korea in hand, only have one.
Malaysia, like the previous matches against Korea and India, came back
from a goal down before seizing the lead. But a determinded Pakistan side
mounted a late strong comeback to force the draw.
India hammered South Korea 4-0 in the other match, and with seven points
from three matches, made the final with ease.
Malaysia lived dangerously by giving the Pakistan forwards too much of
room and the first half was a case of near misses and two disallowed goals
for a frustrated Pakistan.
Naeem Akhbar was given too much space. Before the Malaysians could
settle into the match, he won Pakistan a penalty corner.
The ball was flicked towards goal by Ikhlaq Ahmad, and it rebounded off
Malaysia goalkeeper Khairul Nizam. Naeem slapped in the rebound for
Pakistan's fist goal.
The fighting spirit in the Malaysian side was at its best yesterday as
they went all out in search of the equaliser, but good goalkeeping by
Shakir Muneer frustrated the boys in yellow.
Pakistan were a much-improved side as compared to their first match
against India where. Yesterday, the Pakistan lads looked more confident
and mounted a wave of non-stop attacks which sliced the Malaysian defence.
But Malaysia got back into the match in the 12th minute when Engku
Malek's direct hit during a penalty corner wes deflected over Pakistan
goalkeeper by Izwan Hassan.
Pakistan sounded the board twice after that, but both times the umpire
blew for no goal.
Malaysia never gave Pakistan any chance in the second half. With some
skilfull and well-co-ordinated attacks which iritated the Pakistan
defenders, Ovais Khan was flashed the yellow card for swinging his stick
at Izwan. Izwan, who scored the first goal, limped out, while Ovais was
sent to the sin-bin.
Down to ten men, Pakistan maintain their momentum and in the 45th
minute, Sufian Mohamed took Malaysia closer to the finals with a powerful
penalty corner flick which sailed past goalkeeper Shakir.
But in the 55th minute, Kelvinder Singh made a bad tackle in the
Malaysian semicircle and Pakistan were awarded a penalty corner. Mohamed
Imran snatched the equaliser with a well-placed flick.
Meanwhile, the Indian team went on a rampage yesterday and subdued the
Koreans with physical play only seen at the senior level.
Today: Malaysia v Malaysia Project Squad (6pm); Tomorrow: Malaysia
Project Squad v India (6pm), South Korea v Pakistan (8pm).
Saturday: REST DAY; Sunday: Third-Fourth (3pm), Final (5.30pm).

Unfit Malaysians lose steam


MALAYSIA Under-16............0
FITNESS, or the lack of it, seems to be the problem with both Malaysian
teams playing in the International Under-19 Four-Nation tournament at the
National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The Under-19 side, after Saturday's brilliant opening match in which
they beat South Korea 3-1, fell flat against India on Monday and could
only manage a 1-1 draw.
And yesterday, the Under-16 team (Project Squad) displayed similar
symptoms against Pakistan after a splendid performance in the 1-1 draw
with Korea on Monday.
Coaches of both teams blamed the long lay-off during December's double
Nevertheles, there was still some fight in the Malaysian Project Squad
and for every attacking green shirt, there were at least four Malaysian
juniors making an attempt to steal the ball.
Too many back-passes, which were hardly used against Korea, saw Pakistan
scoring the first goal in the 15th minute. Yasir Islam stole the ball from
a bad Malaysian backpass and gave Malaysian goalkeeper Ahmad Bazli no
Bazli, rocked by the early goal, had a sterling match after that and
confidently stopped more than six shots at goal. But since the forwards
were hardly moving, the defenders were soon worn out and started falling
even with the slightest body contact.
The second goal was a blunder by Bazli, who was paying more attention to
an injured Razie Rahim at the top of the semi-circle and failed to notice
Tariq Aziz take a shot from the right in the 30th minute.
Seconds before half-time, Tariq, after a neat one-two with Ovais Khan,
slammed the ball past Bazli for his second and Pakistan's third goal.
In the second half, the Project Squad gave the Pakistanis too much room
and paid the price in the 40th minute, Tariq getting his hat-trick from a
field goal.
The Malaysians simply surrendered after that goal and from then on it
was easy pickings for Pakistan. Abdul Assim Khan slotted home the fifth in
the 60th minute, and six minutes later Abbas Haider made it 6-0.
"I agree that (the lack of) fitness is a big problem with the team
because they did not have enough time to get into shape after a long lay-
off during the December holidays.
"But otherwise, the Under-16 players are getting maximum exposure at
international level and I am happy with their fighting spirit and team
work," said Malaysian Project Squad team manager Kon Cheng Choong.
Under-19 coach Stephen van Huizen agreed.
"There is still much work to be done with this team before we can bring
them to a level where they have no problems playing three or four matches
in a stretch. That is why the boys have been showing inconsistency even
though all of them have mastered the basics," said van Huizen.
The Malaysian Under-19 players, who took a break yesterday, meet
Pakistan today, and a win will ensure them a place in Sunday's final.
Today: India v South Korea (6pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (8pm).
Tomorrow: Malaysia U-19 v Malaysia Under-16 (6pm).
Friday: Malaysia Under-16 v India (6pm), South Korea v Pakistan (8pm).

Malaysia hold India to drab draw


Izwan Hassan 44th Tushar Khandekar 48th
MALAYSIA played badly against India yesterday and were lucky to share
points when the final whistle blew in the Under-19 Four-Nation
Invitational at the Bukit Jalil Hockey Stadium.
Bad passing, poor judgement and tiredness was on display yesterday, as
Malaysia tried their best to play hockey but could not repeat the same
level of performance they showed aganst South Korea on Sunday.
Skipper Engku Abdul Malek was rested after taking a bad hit on the head
while playing against South Korea on Sunday, said team doctor S. S.
"There was fear of a haemmorage so we decided to rest him for the match
against India. His situation is not too bad, and he might be able to play
against Pakistan on Wednesday," said Cheema.
The armband went to Megat Azrafiq, and together with goalkeeper Khairul
Nizam were the only players who had a good game yesterday, while the
others took things easy and hardly chased for balls.
Malaysia were scrappy, compared to the furious pace against the South
Koreans, but India were even worse and there were hardly any exciting
moves in the first half.
Stephen van Huizen's lads adopted a defensive 35 minutes, and had only
three forwards at any time in the Indian 25-yardline so the chances of
scoring goals were minimised.
But Malaysia did not look troubled, and there were more back-passes and
even the goalkeeper Khairul Nizam was utilised to move the ball from the
right to the left.
And the surprising thing in the match was that all the Malaysian attacks
were mounted from the left side of the field, and the easier right side
was totally ignored.
The first penalty corner was awarded to Malaysia but the set-piece was
easily read by India and nothing came out of it. And Malaysia only won two
more penalty corners in the remaining first half, and both were also
wasted due to poor co-ordination.
India were never in the match and Gurucharn Singh, who scored two goals
against Pakistan on Sunday, was left to roam freely upfront. But he too
was guilty of poor form and hardly troubled goalkeeper Khairul.
The only good move made by India in the entire first half was when
Prabodh Tirkey took a reverse-stick shot at the Malaysian goalmouth and
Khairul made a diving save.
India tried their best to provoke the boys in yellow by poking their
sticks and shoving players while the umpires were looking elsewhere, but
the Malaysian lads kept their cool and only Sallehin Ghani lost his head
and retaliated - but umpire Park Se Yong from Korea was right behind him
and flashed the yellow card in the 30th minute.
Even with 10 players, Malaysia went into the dressing room on equal
terms with India.
The second half saw the Malaysian side still sleeping and were under
tremendous pressure because of some bad pasing. And in the 40th minute,
Tushar Khandekar cracked open the Malaysian goalmouth with a thundering
shot which sailed over the shoulders of goalkeeper Khairul.
That goal woke up the Malaysian side and they mounted a series of
attacks which led to a penalty corner in the 43rd minute. S. Bubalan
pushed towards the goalmouth and Izwan Hassan got the tip of his stick on
the ball to steer it home and level the score.
But the Malaysin team played badly in the remainder of the match and
were lucky that the Indian side were equally bad and shared points when
the horn blew.
"We were lucky to share points with India. But that is to be expected of
a young side new to an international tournament. Give the boys some time
and I know they will mature," said coach Stephen van Huizen.
Fixtures - Today: Malaysia Under-16 v Pakistan (6pm).
Tomorow: India v South Korea (6pm), Pakistan v Malaysia (8pm).
Thursday: Malaysia v Malaysia Under-16 (6pm).

Malaysians open quest in style


MALAYSIA...................3 SOUTH KOREA.............1
MALAYSIA lived dangerously in the first 10 minutes but their growing
confidence took them to a 3-1 win over South Korea in their Under-19 Four-
Nation Invitational match at the National Hokey Stadium in Bukit Jalil
last night.
A skilful display, matched by intelligent moves, mesmerised the crowd
and even a missed penalty stroke was forgotten when the final whistle
But Malaysia's start was very shaky as the overconfident hosts were
punished in the fifth minute when S. Bubalan trapped a cross for Woo Dae
Myung right at the goalline. Woo took his time, turned and beat goalkeeper
Khairul Nizam.
The confident Koreans kept up the pressure but the Malaysians kept their
cool and switched play from right to left, and then virtually made camp in
the Korean semi-circle.
But the score remained despite the Malaysians trying everything. Poor
co-ordination coupled with selfish play by forwards Redza Maadun and
Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin saw numerous chances go to waste.
The hosts finally settled in the 15th minute and the 500-odd crowd urged
them on as they started to play as a team and rarely made any mistake -
except in the Korean semi-circle.
But Megat Azrafiq made good in the 20th minute when Malaysia won their
third penalty corner, which was subsequently botched, but luckily, the
ball fell at the feet of Megat who hammered in a low reverse stick to beat
Korean goalkeeper Kim Jae Young.
The equaliser ignited the Malaysians and two minutes later Redza Maadun
dribbled past three Koreans, including goalkeeper Kim, and was about to
push the ball in when he was brought down by Kim's extended hockey stick.
Malaysia were awarded a penalty stroke and Megat walked to the spot but
his weak flick was saved by Kim and Malaysia missed a golden opportunity
to take the lead.
But in the 30th minute, after putting up a great show for the crowd,
Malaysia finally found the elusive second goal. This time, deft one-two
play between Fikri Bassar and Redza beat the entire Korean defence and
Redza had the last touch for a briliant and well deserved field goal.
In the second half, Malaysia switched their attack from the right to the
centre and the Koreans were clearly at a loss as to how to contain the
swift attacks.
In the 45th minute, Malaysia fought tooth-and-nail for a penalty corner
and even the dummy was excelent as the ball found Fairuz Hamsani whose
shot bounced off the chest of goalkeeper Kim. Fikri slapped the rebound
but missed the target by centimetres.
Heavy rain a minute later slowed down the explosive match but failed to
dampen the fighting spirit of the Malaysians.
The rain turned into a deluge and officials halted the match for 15
minutes for safety reasons.
Upon rsumption, Malaysia still held a tight grip on the match even
though the Koreans looked dangerous.
In the 50th minute Fakhrulrazi Baharuddin sent a thundering shot from
the top of the Korean semi-circle and Malaysia were 3-1 up.
The cushion saw some of the Malaysian players go into a slumber and the
Koreans took advantege with some swift counter-attacks but failed to score
as goalkeeper Khairul Nizam stood his ground well.
Today: India v Malaysia (6pm), Korea v Malaysian under-16 (8pm).
Tomorrow: Malaysia under-16 v Pakistan (6pm).

Malaysia need psychological edge


MALAYSIA will be looking for a psychological start against South Korea in
the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) Under-19 Four-Nation at the Bukit
Jalil Hockey Stadium in Kuala Lumpur today.
The reason is simple - Malaysia will be up against the best junior sides
in Asia, and their future will depend on how they fare in the Four-Nation.
"India, Pakistan and Korea have always done well at the Asian Games
level, and if our juniors emerge tops in the Four-Nation, the
psychological boost will be an added advantage when the present batch of
juniors mature in a few years.
"The same players should be carrying the Malaysian flag for the next 10
years and we need a winning start tomorrow (today) to chart a bright
future," said team manager Poon Fook Loke.
India, Pakistan and Korea will be playing with the same mission in mind,
and they will also be looking to form strong sides for the 2005 Junior
World Cup qualifiers.
In the other explosive match today, India, the 2001 Junior World Cup
champions, will lock horns with Pakistan.
India will parade a new team, as none of their players from the Hobart
Junior World Cup will be eligible to play in 2005.
The only Indian player with international experience in the side is
skipper Prabhot Tirkey, who featured in the 2001 Junior Asia Cup and an
international Under-16 invitational tournament in Ipoh last year.
Pakistan, who failed to score a single goal in the August Four-Nation
meet in Egypt and lost 2-0 to India in the preliminaries, have also
managed to whip up a formidable side looking to avenge the Egypt
humiliation. The Pakistan Juniors have grown in confidence after a
laudable performance in a Triangular series in Lahore and Faisalabad. The
Juniors played the Pakistan national team and the newly-formed Pakistan
The Juniors won once against the Whites in an eight-game series and also
gave the Pakistan seniors a fight.
Pakistan have just started their preparation for the 2005 Junior World
Cup qualifiers after failing to qualify for Hobart.
"We have shown them a recording of how the Koreans play and their main
strength is fitness. The Korean juniors are not very skilfull, and maybe
that is where we have the advantage.
The Malaysian Juniors have a well balanced side, and will not overly
depend on penalty corners for goals, because the forwards are skilful
enough to score on the run of play.
Fixtures - Today: Pakistan v India (6pm), Malaysia v South Korea (8pm);
Monday: Malaysia v India (6pm); Malaysia Under-16 v South Korea (8pm);
Tuesday; Malaysia Under-16 v Pakistan (6pm); Wednesday: India v South
Korea (6pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (8pm); Fri-day: Malaysia Under-16 v India
(6pm), Pakistan v Korea (8pm); Saturday: REST DAY; Sunday: Third and
fourth (3pm), Final (5pm).

Future on parade in Four-Nation


THE future of Malaysian hockey will be on parade from tomorrow when the
Four-Nation Invitational gets underway at the National Hockey Stadium in
Bukit Jalil.
Malaysia will be represented by two teams, the under-19 and the under-16
sides, with the under-16 playing just for exposure. Pakistan, India and
South Korea are the other teams.
The under-19 team, who have nine players who helped beat Germany for the
FIH International Youth Festival title in Poznan, Poland last year, look
good for the final.
Under-19 team manager Poon Fook Loke, who also managed the Poznan side,
is looking forward to let his players loose again, and play the Asian
brand of hockey.
"In Poznan, we did not restrict the players from holding onto the ball
and dribbling in the semi-circle. In the Four-Nation, the boys will be
encouraged to think themselves out of difficult situations, and if they
have to dribble, they have the greenlight," said Poon.
The team management will be trying out two `new faces' who do not have
any international exposure.
"Kelvinder Singh and S. Selvaraju have been doing very well in training
and I feel they should be given a chance to prove themselves at the
international level.
"Kelvinder was an asset to the Royal Military College (RMC) while
Selvaraju is a gem of a player who has yet to be tested."
"Bukit Jalil Sports School dropped Selvaraju from the team after he
picked up a red card in the Junior Hockey League last year, but he has
improved since and I feel he will perform well in the Four-Nation," said
Although Poon did not want to commit himself, he has reserved Azli
Misron, who showed maturity in the recent Champions Schools in Klang, for
the semi-finals and the final.
"I am just going to let the boys play and enjoy themselves without any
targets. But I have placed Azli, who has just recovered from a groin
problem, on the reserve list and will utilise him in the final, if we go
that far," said Poon.
Goalkeeper Khairul Nizam has replaced Ahmad Bazli, who had a sterling
outing in Poznan, in the under-19 squad.
"Bazli would have just warmed the bench if we included him in the under-
19 squad, but in the under-16 team, he has been named as skipper. I
believe that the Four-Nation is the best place to expose the future of
Malaysian hockey, that is why everyone needs to be given an equal chance
to play," said Poon.
Malaysian Under-19 team:
Goalkeepers: Khairul Nizam Ibrahim, Mohamed Shah Ahmad
Defenders: Engku Abdul Malek (capt), S. Bubalan, Megat Azrafiq Termizi
Midfielders: Shukri Mutalib, Suffian Mohamed, Sallehin Ghani, Fikri
Bassar, Shahrun Nabil, Kelvinder Singh
Forwards: Fairus Hamsani, Izwan Hassan, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin,
Fakrulrazi Baharuddin, Redza Maadun, Azli Misron, S. Selvaraju.
Team Manager: Poon Fook Loke; Coach: Stephen van Huizen; Assistant
Coaches: Tai Beng Hai, Arul Selvaraj; Team Doctor: S.S. Cheema.
Malaysian Under-16 team:
Goalkeepers: Ahmad Bazli (capt), Che Nasai Ramli
Defenders: Baljit Singh, Zaidi Zainuddin, S. Yogeswaran, Fitri Abu Bakar
Midfielders: Fauzi Rahim, Razie Rahim, Herwan Pami, Hafiz Jami, Mohsin
Hamsani, Salwadi Mat Nor
Forwards: Amerullah Aziz, Fazreen Ehsan, Hafifi Hafiz, Razali Zulkifli,
Nabil Fiqri.
Team Manager: Kon Cheng Choong; Coach: Yahya Atan; Attachment coaches:
V. Muraleedharan, Izwan Suhardi.
Fixtures - Tomorrow: Pakistan v India (6pm), Malaysia v Korea (8pm);
Monday: Malaysia v India (6pm); Malaysia Under-16 v Korea (8pm); Tuesday:
Malaysia Under-16 v Pakistan (6pm); Wednesday: India v Korea (6pm),
Malaysia v Pakistan (8pm); Jan 10: Malaysia Under-16 v India (6pm),
Paksitan v Korea (8pm); Jan 11: Rest day; Jan 12: Final.

Let's hear it from Malaysia


DATUK Hishammuddin Hussein was not a keen Sports Minister as he hesitated
when the position fell in his lap after the 1999 General Elections.
His sceptism and hesitation stemmed from the fact that controversies in
sports were a daily affair. He wondered if he was strong enough to handle
the situation like his predecessors did.
But after three years at the helm, the sports loving minister is
enjoying his term in office and with experience gained from handling
controversies in the Malaysian AAU, Sepak Takraw Association of Malaysia
(STAM) and the Malaysian Hockey Federation - to name a few - he is all set
to lead Malaysia into the next era.
Q: If the Government decides to post you to another ministry today, what
legacy would you have left after three years as the Sports Minister?
A: The Ministry worked hard to include sports in the Eighth Malaysia
Plan (2001-2005) and the Third Long Term Plan for Malaysia, and I am proud
to say that it was one of my greatest achievements.
With its inclusion, sports will no longer be sidelined from the overall
development plan for Malaysia. And we have outlined four categories of
sports for better management and long term planning. The four are - high
performance sports, sports for all, extreme sports and new sports.
It was of paramount importance for sports to be included in the two
Plans because only then can we achieve results at the world level. We now
have a very sound plan to take sports through the 2004 Athens Olympics and
the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, and further.
With world class facilities in place (the National Bukit Sports Complex)
after successfully hosting the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, and
the backing of the Government (National Sports Council included), Olympic
Council of Malaysia (OCM) and national sports associations, Malaysia has
done extremely well in the last few years but there is still much work to
be done before we can truly become a sporting nation like Australia.
Q: How do you rate the year 2002 for sports?
A: 2002 has been an extremely fruitful year for sports.
Malaysia did extremely well in the Kuala Lumpur Hockey World Cup, the
Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games and I pay tribute to the athletes,
coaches and officials who worked hard to win medals for the country.
I also salute the sound development programmes initiated in Jaya `98,
but I liken the plans to a marathon runner who has just completed a few
miles of his run and needs to keep his pace or get lost in the chasing
Malaysia won 111 gold, 75 silver and 85 bronze in the 2001 Sea Games
(under the Jaya `98 programme) an it was actually a stepping stone for
confidence to grow and our athletes to excel at bigger platforms.
Q: Is winning medals at the Sea Games still a priority?
A: Winning medals at the Sea Games level is good, but Malaysia must
start looking higher. That is why I am willing to take risks in the next
Sea Games by fielding young athletes and not those who have done well at a
higher level.
Malaysia might not win as many gold medals in Vietnam 2003 but by using
it as an avenue to expose up-and-coming athletes - the public might not
react favourably to the plan - but I strongly feel that winning medals at
the Sea Games should no longer be our priority as we look at the bigger
picture to become world beaters.
Q: There were as many controversies as achievements in 2002, do you see
any end to it?
A: No. Controversies will be there as long as people take part in
sports. The Sports Commissioner's office will have to deal with it case-
Q: What were the other issues solved by the Sports Act?
A: Associations have been slow in registering with the Sports
Commissioner's office and since the inception of the Sports Act in 1997,
only 532 sports bodies registered until 2001. This year, after much
persuasion and subtle warnings, the number increased to 1,098
Even though the Sports Act hands the ministry the right to take any
action deemed necessary to safeguard sports, we have been using `The
Development Touch' as opposed to drastic actions like de-registration. The
only exception was MAAU.
The Sports Act also has its limitations as it does not cover Sabah,
Sarawak, Labuan and grassroots associations which are still registered
with the Registrar Of Societies (ROS).
The issue of accountability arises and it is not clear whether they come
under the Sports Act or the ROS. This issue is currently being tackled by
the Sports Commissioner.
In the registered associations, the many problems that crop up are
because they do not follow their own constitution. As an example, 44 per
cent or 305 associations did not hold their Annual General Meeting in 2002
even though they were supposed to do so under their constitution.
The problem is widespread in Terengganu and Kelantan. In Terengganu,
almost 80 percent of the 41 associations did not hold meetings while in
Kelantan, 63 per cent, or 24 associations, failed to meet.
Q: What is the Sports Commissioner's office doing about it? And what
about development plans? Do associations submit them on a regular basis?
A: The Commissioner's office has sent numerous reminders to the errant
associations but it has resuletd in a stalemate. But if they persist with
the old ways in the new year, then they will be asking for trouble.
And on development programmes, the ministry is finding it hard to get
everyone to submit their plans. And when the Sports Commissioner requested
all 78 national associations to submit their plans and tournaments that
they will be organising from 2002 to 2007, only 20 associations, or 25.6
per cent, responded.
And out of the 20 received, only 15 had submitted plans on tournaments
they will be hosting over a period of five years.
Q: From what has been outlined above, the future looks very bleak for
sports in Malaysia?
A: On the contrary. You are getting the same feeling that I had when I
first took over the Sports Minister's post. I was flabbergasted with the
problems that besieged me but I have learnt to solve all problems with the
bigger picture in mind.
Some of the associations might not be doing their work properly, but the
athletes have been training hard and the medals in 2002 speak for
And the plans that have been formulated right up till 2010 will become a
reality because we have identified 20 sports which will receive full
backing from the NSC so that medals can be won at the international level.
All this while, we have been spreading our resources thinly and now want
to narrow the scope only on associations which have been running well. The
20 sports will receive the funding and necessary training. If Singapore
can spend S$500 million only on five sports and reap the rewards, I see no
reason why we can't rely on 20 sports to bring in international class
Q: How do you summarise your plans for 2003?
A: I want to go higher. I want to see athletes using the Malaysia Games
and Sea Games as stepping stones and not stiff challenges. I want to move
forward and higher and higher.
One day, I want to see more Malaysians stand at the top of the Olympic
podium and the national anthem being played regularly at international
meets. All this will take off with sound plans from next year.