Monday, November 10, 2008

Dying MHL needs talent CPR

AT Least five Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) teams are in for a windfall, if the proposed plans to revive the dying league takes wing.
Newly elected Malaysian Hockey federation (MHF) pres ident Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, in his maiden speech, had said that MHL clubs will receive more attention, and their management will be turned professional with even club-houses being built and junior teams being formed.
The 2008-1010 MHF council will meet for the first time on Saturday, and states as well as clubs have been told to submit their plans as well as their problems.
The reality is that the MHL is almost a non-event, if one takes the six-team Division One as an example.
The league has just entered its return-leg, but Ernst & Young are already the run-away winners with 18 points after six matches, while Tenaga and Sapura are a distant nine points adrift.
Maybank, National Juniors and Nur-Isafi are just making up the numbers in Division One. And although the Penang- based Nur Insafi have spent good money to buy nine foreign players, they have lost all six of their matches to date.
The MHL, as recent as 10 years ago, used to be a close tournament with at least six teams going to the wire before the winner barely breaks free, but due to lack of caliber players, it is now a one-horse race.
The president was briefed about the MHL, before he made up his mind to accept nominations, and his first council meeting must start shaking and moving clubs.
The MHL fixtures are a clear indication of how pathetic the league is. The Six Division One teams are automatic quarter- finalists, while the top-two in Division Two will join the knock- out stage.
And going by current form, the two from Division Two will be knocked out early, and Ernst & Young will finally lift their maiden MHL double -- simply because they have 12 national players in their team, while there’s not enough quality players for the other teams to pick.
The talent pool has dried up, and action, not plans are needed to revive this once prestigious tournament.

Juniors: Don't count us out

THE National Juniors coach K. Rajan sees his charges’ wild-card entry in to the Third Asian Champion Clubs Cup on Nov 13-16th at the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium, as a challenge which they will stand up to.
The Juniors were invited to play in the tournament by the Asian Hockey Federation at the 11th-hour, so that two groups of three teams would play in the tournament which is being revived after a lapse of 15 years.
“The invitation came at the right time, as my players graph is on an upward trend in the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League).
“I believe, we will make an impact in the Club tournament, and even the outcome against Ernst & Young, our opening match, will be close,” said Rajan.
The Juniors are with Ernst & Young and Royal Thai Airforce in Group A, while in Group B are Olympian Village Club of Pakistan, Singapore Recreation Club and Adijon of Uzbek istan.
And the fact that Rajan will have all is players back, is another reason for his confidence.
“Seven players with other MHL teams are also back with me, and now they must fight to get their first-11 spot again.
“This is healthy competition, and I believe the players will give their best, because I aim to trim the number of trainees soon.”
The Juniors training squad, numbering 34, will be trimmed after December, and the MHL as well as the Asian Club tournament is a selection of sorts for the final Junior World Cup squad.
FIXTURES -- Thursday: Ernst & Young v National Juniors (5pm), Olympian Village Club v Adijon (7pm).
Friday: Royal Thai Airforce v National Juniors (5pm), Singapore Recreation Club v Olympian Village Club (7pm).
Saturday: Ernst & Young v Royal Thai Airforce (5pm), Singapore Recreation Club v Adijon (7pm).
Sunday: Final -- 5pm; Third-Fourth: 3pm.