Friday, January 30, 2009

South Korea blow to Azlan Shah Cup

THE Azlan Shah Cup has lost South Korea to the credit crunch, and now the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) is literally scrapping the barrel to find a replacement.
Egypt, more famous for its pyramids than hockey, will make their debut in the Azlan Shah Cup on April 3-12, while Ireland and Japan are being courted as well.
The only confirmed teams to date are India (world ranked 11th), Pakistan (eighth) New Zealand (seven), Egypt (20th) and Malaysia (15th).
"We sent out invitations to 14 teams, but received confirmation from only five, and now South Korea have withdrawn because they lack funds.
"A change of guard is also expected as the Korean Hockey Federation will be holding its BGM (Biennial General Meeting) soon.
"Most of the other teams who declined were also forced to do so due to the of lack of funds, or because they had prior commitments," said MHC secretary Hashim Yusoff.
South Korea are ranked fifth in the world, and if 18th ranked Ireland accept the offer, they will be making their debut in the tournament which was incepted in 1983.
The Azlan Shah Cup used to have the best in the world, and was once dubbed as the shadow of the Champions Trophy as Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Australia and a host of other top-six teams used to scramble to secure a spot.
"We can't go below Egypt, who are ranked 20th in the world, to keep some standard in the tournament. And if Japan and Ireland both decline, we will have to make do with five teams."
The national juniors, preparing for the Junior World Cup, can't be included in the Azlan Shah cast, as they have a European Tour planned at the same time.
But some quarters feel that the juniors should be included into the Azlan Shah Cup, as the invited teams are not highly ranked, and will be good sparring partners.
The seniors, meanwhile, will be using the tournament to prepare for the Asia Cup in Dubai on May 8-15, where only the champions advance to the 2010 New Delhi World Cup.

Johor to the rescue...

Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman (second right) checking on the progress of work at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium on Jan 23. Pic: HAIRUL ANUAR ABD RAHIM

THE financial uncertainty surrounding the Junior World Cup is a thing of the past as the Johor state government has come in strongly, providing a total RM1 million in cash and kind.

Further good news for the Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC) is a promise by the state government to secure a title sponsor for the tournament, which Malaysia is co-hosting with Singapore.
Malaysia will host the June 7-21 tournament in Johor Baru.
The Taman Daya stadium and facilities, subject to much speculation, will be ready by March -- in time for a quadrangular on Mar 11-15 featuring the Malaysian Juniors, India, Pakistan and a yet-to-be-confirmed side.
"The Johor state government has been very accommodating, and has not only gotten the first stadium ready, but will also help with the lighting and other facilities which will cost about RM1 million.
"And our organisational cost has also become cheaper as the Johor government has agreed to provide buses for 10 teams who will play in Johor Baru," said MHC secretary Hashim Yusof.
"The government will also secure a title sponsor, which will further reduce our burden."
Hashim said national juniors coach K. Rajan will identify the fourth team for the quadrangular.
"We have Egypt, Singapore and Germany as the possible fourth team, and will let the coach have his pick," said Hashim.
"The players will face a tougher time in training after the Chinese New Year holidays, and by March, they should be able to put up a fight in the quadrangular," said Rajan.
Malaysia, in Group C of the Junior World Cup, will have Spain, United States, South Korea and England for company with the top two teams qualifying for the quarter-finals.
The fixtures, released by the International Hockey Federation, will pit Malaysia against European Junior Cup champions Spain in the curtain raiser.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Game for second stage

By Ajitpal Singh

Junior World Cup Groupings

Group A — Argentina, Belgium, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia;
Group B — Australia, Chile, Germany, Japan, South Africa;
Group C — England, South Korea, Malaysia, Spain, USA;
Group D — India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore.

THE parent body had said nothing yet but the team have set themselves a target - to qualify for the second stage of the Junior World Cup, co hosted by Johor Baru and Singapore, on June 7-21.
And that’s not an easy task if you consider that Malaysia have England, South Korea, Spain and the United States for company in Group C.
Only the top two from each group will advance to the quarter-finals.
Critics are downplaying Malaysia’s chances in making a grade at the tournament and coach K.Rajan also admits it will be tough.
“The team’s target is the second stage and my charges’ are gearing towards achieving it,” said Rajan yesterday.
“Of course, England, South Korea and Spain are the leading teams in the group. The three teams are good but not invincible and my boys’ can beat them, if they play their hearts out.”
“As for this stage, my charges have shown tremendous improvement as compared previously but they need to be tuned up further. They will need another 20 matches or so to get their momentum on the right track.”
England and Spain are ranked third and fourth in Europe. The Spaniards proved their mettle when they won the European Junior Cup while South Korea, finished second in the Asia Junior Cup. Both tournaments were held last year.
For the record, Malaysia’s best showing in the Junior World Cup was fourth placing in the 1979 and 1982 editions.
In the last edition in Rotterdam, the national juniors finished 10th out of 16 teams.
The Malaysian juniors, who finished fourth in the recent Australian Youth Olympics Festival in Sydney, will undergo a one-month mental and army style training camp in Sungai Besi and Lumut starting Feb 1.
There are currently 26 players in the training squad and it will be trimmed down to the final 18 in May.
The Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru will also be the venue for Group A, consisting defending champions Ar gentina, Belgium, Egypt, Pakistan and Russia and also the junior world cup final.
The main pitch in Taman Daya has been approved by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for the event while the second turf is scheduled to be completed in about two months.

Beng Hai's make-or-break

By Ajitpal Singh

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) has received two fresh foreign applications for the national senior team coaching job but the parent body wants to stick with interim chief coach Tai Beng Hai for the time being.
MHF deputy president Nur Azmi Ahmad said an Australian and Spaniard have applied for the job but the coaching committee will need to check on their credentials before making a decision.
“As for now, Beng Hai will be given a chance to prove himself. The Azlan Shah Cup (April 3-12) will be his first test,” said Nur Azmi yesterday.
“Beng Hai will be a strong candidate for the chief coaching job if the team does well in the tournament. The new applicants are high level coaches but they are not in the same league as the previous candidates we had approached.”
Several foreign names were linked to the coaching job since last November but none materialised.
Nur Azmi said after the Azlan Shah Cup, the team will be evaluated and changes will be made if needed.
“We don’t expect the team to play like champions in the Azlan Shah as the tournament is only to gauge the team’s strength before the Asia Cup in Dubai (May 8-15).”
“The prime target is to win the Asia Cup as the champions will qualify automatically for the 2010 World Cup.” he said.
Nur Azmi also said Beng Hai is also free to request from the association additional help to prepare the team for both tournaments.
“Beng Hai has Nur Saiful Zaini and Lailin Abu Hassan as assistants but if he wants, he can recommend other local coaches to further assist him.”
“I’m sure it will not be problem, even with paymasters the National Sports Council (NSC).” he added.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lost match as well as height contest

THE National Under-16 team lost both their friendlies and height contest to the visiting under-17 Chandigarh hockey academy from Punjab, but the team showed some promise in their fighting display.
The juniors lost 6-1 and then 1-0, and will wrap-up the series today.
The Malaysian boys not only lost on the pitch, but also in height. The Punjab boys were all six-footers, while the Malaysian players hardly reached their shoulders.
“The first match went badly because the boys were overawed by their opponents physique, and also because boys from Bandar Penawar and Bukit Jalil Sports Schools were combined to play in a match for the first time.
“But in the second match, there was marked progress and they could have even won the match is not for the three bungled penalty corners,” said national under-16 coach K. Dharmaraj.
The boys are being groomed for the 2013 Junior World Cup, and Dharmaraj said he will increase the pool to make it more challenging.
“I will slowly increase the pool, so that there will be continuous challenging among the payers for positions in the team.
“This will make them realise that there is no guarantee, and they will have to constantly be at their best to be in the training pool.”
The current national senior team has a limited pool of players, and many have taken their spots for granted, as they know that even if their performance drops, there are no capable replacements to rip their national colours away.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Year of the Ox...

Gaining attention in Chula Vista

Tiffany Snow a member of the U.S. women's field hockey team and a San Pasqual High graduate watches as her teammates play No. 1-ranked Netherlands Wednesday at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. (Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle - Staff photographer)

CHULA VISTA ---- In a national sports landscape dominated by football, baseball and basketball, the U.S. women's field hockey team is gaining attention the only way it knows how: by putting up a fight.

"We persist," defender Rachel Dawson said. "It's not always easy, and we don't necessarily get the acclaim. But we put in the sacrifice because we're building this team to be something more."

The United States has long struggled in field hockey, having failed to qualify for three of four
Olympics until it reached the
2008 games in Beijing.

But by placing eighth in Beijing, the U.S. made such an impression that the top-ranked team in the world has come to Chula Vista this week to train with and scrimmage the Americans.

The five-game series against the 2008 Olympic champion Netherlands, which continues through Monday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, represents a significant change in the international field hockey community's perception of the Americans.

"Just having the Olympic gold medalists wanting to come and play scrimmages against us is a pretty good indication that we're gaining respect in the world and they're interested in seeing what we're doing," U.S. coach Lee Bodimeade said.

Last July, the U.S. team won its first Olympic qualifier since 1988 with a win over Belgium in Kazan, Russia. The Americans haven't won an Olympic medal since taking bronze at the 1984 games in Los Angeles.

"To compete against this caliber of team, its pretty rewarding to see their skills and try to emulate that," said San Pasqual High graduate Tiffany Snow, one of two North County high school products on the U.S. roster for this week's session. "We're striving to be at that level so for them to come out and play against us is a great opportunity and kind of a sign of respect."

Torrey Pines grad Jessica Javelet, a member of the national team's developmental squad, is also competing for the U.S. this week.

The Americans have made the majority of their progress since Bodimeade became their head coach in 2005. A member of Australia's men's national team from 1991 to 1998, Bodimeade quickly earned the players' respect and was named USA Field Hockey's national coach of the year in 2006.

"I respect and admire him so much," said Dawson, the 2007 college player of the year at North Carolina. "We all know that he was a great player for Australia, but I think his ability to connect with us and invest in us has paid off."

The Americans have lost each of the first three scrimmages to the Netherlands by a combined score of 18-0. The fourth scrimmage is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m., with the finale set for Monday at 3 p.m. All scrimmages are free and open to the public.

Despite the lopsided scores, the U.S. has clearly progressed the past four years.

"When I took over, the team had been unsuccessful in qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Games," Bodimeade said. "Through that came a lot of fallout with players who thought their dreams of playing in the Olympics were over and changes in the coaching structure took place. It was really a feeling of where do we go from here."

Bodimeade said one of his key aims as head coach was to establish a personality for the team.

"What we've defined, first and foremost, is what style of hockey the USA plays," he said. "Our philosophy is to attack, that's the driving attitude of this team. Once we established that mentality, we were able to come up with a four-year plan that got us to Beijing."

The week of scrimmages against the Netherlands is just another step toward his attempt to bring the USA back to the top of the field hockey world. In February, the team will head to the Bahamas to compete in the Pan Am Cup.

"What better way to prepare for the Pan Am than playing against the No. 1 team?" he said. "I think right now we're the envy of the field hockey community, getting to play against such high quality competition."

Dawson said she hopes the momentum that's starting to build behind the U.S. team translates into new field hockey fans.

"This is the time to buy in," Dawson said. "We're definitely going places and this is a great spectator sport. We hope to inspire young kids to play and get them involved because we really are only going up from here."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Looking for a real challenge? Try field hockey

By Nicolas Lewis
Rocket Assistant Sports Editor
Nicolas Lewis
Nicolas Lewis
[Click to enlarge]
Rocket assistant sports editor and senior Nicolas Lewis completes a pass to senior forward Jen Venet to finish a drill during the final field hockey practice of the season.
Media Credit: Steve Reed
Rocket assistant sports editor and senior Nicolas Lewis completes a pass to senior forward Jen Venet to finish a drill during the final field hockey practice of the season.
[Click to enlarge]

When I first started writing for The Rocket at the beginning of this school year, I was afforded the opportunity to take my choice of which sport I would like to cover on a regular basis.
I chose to cover field hockey, and I did so for two reasons.
I was eager to tackle the challenge of writing about a sport I knew next to nothing about, but also the opportunity presented by covering a team that hadn't had success in recent years.
I enjoyed spending the season covering the team, seeing what it was like to follow a group of young women that played not in front of large crowds or for the hopes of a career beyond college, but because they love the game.
Getting to know the players and coaches and how much they cared about their sport and their team, even on the days when nothing seemed to go right, was pretty inspiring.
When the opportunity then arose to write a column about practicing with a sports team, I jumped at it, because it seemed to me that practicing with the field hockey team was the idea of being a fish out of water.
To say a unique experience awaited me was a bit of an understatement.
I had watched games for the bulk of two months and struggled until the last game to wrap my brain around exactly what was going on, so the smallest thoughts I had of knowing what I was getting into were likely to be incorrect.
When the final practice of the season rolled around, I headed up to N. Kerr Thompson Stadium both expecting the worst and hoping for the best.
I certainly didn't help matters off to a good start by wearing shorts on a chilly evening made worse by the usual biting winds that come to the Slippery Rock campus.
I jumped right into practice, which began with a simple stick handling drill, and it was only a few seconds before the first shouts of "Oh no, you can't do that!" rained down on me.
I had made the mistake of playing field hockey like I had always played hockey, tapping the ball from side to side.
In field hockey, there's a catch.
The stick has a straight side and a curved side, and you have to play the ball with the curved side of the stick at all times, which means rolling the stick over in your hands, a much more challenging skill to learn.
"I think that's easily one of the things that gets overlooked in our sport," head coach Stacey Hart said. "There's a very high level of stick work and hand-eye coordination involved, and it's unique to our sport. It's the same as ice hockey, but totally different."
I certainly found that to be the case at several points during the practice.
I had a general idea of what was going on in terms of the motions of the players from my past playing ice hockey, but was repeatedly tripped up or slowed down when I had to focus on using the stick to carry the ball up the field or through the attacking zone.
Coach Hart was impressed with my play, but also wasn't surprised by my struggles.
"Your past experience works both with you and against you," Hart said. "It gives you some idea of what to do, but also works against you since field hockey has such a unique feel to it."
That certainly proved to be true, as I did notice a different feel to the game - particularly in my lower back.
Field hockey uses a fairly short stick, as the available sticks tend to vary in length, but the longest ones come in at just over three feet long.
It creates a situation where you have to get used to running up and down the field in a squat or suffer the consequences of running around doubled over at the waist.
With my lack of experience, my muscles were doomed either way, but it gave me a newfound respect for how physical the game can be, even when running free and untouched.
After a breakaway drill that included both myself and the athletic trainers, the time came for a scrimmage, and I felt my muscles tense up a bit whenever I heard Coach Hart say "Nick, you go ahead and play forward."
Sure, I was faced with less responsibility than a goaltender or a defender, but it still meant the seemingly daunting task of having to actually engage myself in the flow of a game without embarrassing myself.
I worried much less once I got involved, mostly because I took the simplest route possible - I found someone from the other team, hung around her, and followed the ball up and down the field.
All the hard work actually paid off, as the tail end of the scrimmage found me headed on a free run down the far sideline.
Like most of my other attempts at looking cool, that opportunity left me whiffing badly as I was unable to put together everything I had learned.
For an evening where I started off feeling like I was flying blind, I am proud of not looking silly, especially if it ended with the pure rush of flying down the sideline towards the same goal as everyone else.
MHF president Tengku Abdullah (right) and Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors Sdn Bhd division vice president Datuk Lawrence Lee at the presentation of the three cars in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. — Pic: KHALID REDZA

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) has yet to find a suitable foreign coach, and the early indication is that Tai Beng Hai will hold the reins at least until the Asia Cup in Dubai.
MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said yesterday: "I know we promised a foreign coach months ago, but have yet to sign one.

"The reason is because the top coach we wanted said he is going to retire from hockey soon, while the one we are negotiating with now has asked far more than what we expected."
MHF is said to have approached Australia's Terry Walsh, who had a stint in Malaysia in the 1980s, while its negotiations with another Aussie has almost reached a stalemate as his asking price plus benefits is too high for the MHF to consider.
The MHF council, after the elections in November, decided not renew the contracts of then national coach Sarjit Singh, assistant coach Gurmit Singh and goalkeepers coach Shahid Ali Khan which expired on Dec 31.
Instead, Tai Beng Hai and Nor Saiful Zaini were appointed caretaker coaches until a foreign replacement is found.

"We will make an announcement in a day or two on what we plan to do next. And if we can't get a foreign coach, we will look for the best in Malaysia.
"The caretaker coaches will also stay in the coaching group, as we will not sideline them but strengthen the coaching outfit instead, by adding more to the list," said Tengku Abdullah, who was speaking to the media after receiving three cars from Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors Sdn Bhd for MHF's official use in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The seniors have two major assignments this year, the Azlan Shah Cup on April 3-12 and the Asia Cup in Dubai on May 8-15.
The Asia Cup champions get a direct entry into the 2010 India World Cup.
Meanwhile, Junior World Cup organising committee chairman Tan Sri Admiral (Rtd) Anwar Mohd Nor said the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has given a 50 per cent discount on the 80,000 Swiss Francs (RM250,000) organising levy.
"And the 40,000 Swiss Francs will be equally shared by Singapore and Malaysia, thus bringing down the total organising cost."
Also, since visiting teams will be footing their own hotel and food bills, we are now looking at a much smaller budget," said Anwar.
While the local cost has yet to be finalised, the total shared cost with Singapore will come to about S$440,000 (RM1 million).
And a visit from FIH competitions committee chairman Dennis Meredith also brought more good news, as he returned happy with the progress of both pitches in Johor Baru.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Delay in publishing stories ....

Sorry folks, the corporate world has caught up with me, and now I can only upload stories which I write for the New Straits Times after they appear in Print form.
However, I can still write a short take, and provide with results of local tournaments.
Have a nice year....

Juniors impress against Singapore

THE National Under-17 hockey team lost 4-2 to Singapore Junior World Cup trainees at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
But they had already wrapped-up the three-series friendly, as they beat Singapore 4-2 and 1-0 in the first two match es.
And team manager Mirnawan Nawawi feels his charges showed promise in the series: “This team is being trained for the 2013 Junior World Cup, and from what I saw in the three matches, the boys have great potential.”
Mirnawan, a former national skipper, said their com mitment in training was also refreshing.
“We only called-up the boys four days before playing Singapore, and even then, their commitment in training and discipline was at the highest level, and the sport certainly has a good future if we keep them together,” said Mirnawan.
Singapore, according to their coach Lim Chiow Chuan, are having difficulties finding opponents to spar before the Junior World Cup in June 7-21.
“Funding is limited, and so we will not be playing as many matches as I want before the World Cup. I am in the midst of arranging for a playing Tour of Australia, and would also like to play the Malaysian Juniors if they are available.
“And once the pitch in Singapore is ready to be tested, I hope a few teams will come there and play with us,” said Lim.
The Under-17 team will next play a series of friendlies with a visiting Under-17 team from Punjab.

No medal, and chinks exposed

MALAYSIA will return without a medal from the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, but coach K. Rajan gained valuable inside information to better prepare his charges for the Junior World Cup in June 7-21.
In the bronze play-off yesterday, Malaysia lost 5-2 to Great Britain. Malaysia’s scorers were Kavin Kartik and Falzal Saari, while Britain won the bronze with goals from Kenny Bain, Martin Scanlon, Chris Gregg (2) and Simon Faulkner.
Australia won the gold when they beat India 2-1.
It was a tale of missed chances, as Malaysia took the lead in all three pool matches, but crumbles in the final minutes of every match.
Against Britain, they were five seconds from victory, but let in a silly goal and the match ended 4-4.
And against Australia, the Juniors were leading 1-0, but let in two goals in the second half to lose 2-1.
India was no different, as Malaysia matched them 3-3 at the half-time hooter, and were leading 5-3 but collapsed and the match ended 5-5.
“This is an Under-20 tournament, while the Junior World Cup is Under-21. I have 10 players who were sitting at the sidelines because they were overage for the AYOF, but will field them in the four friendlies against senior Australian sides next week.
“I am happy with the boys progress, in all the matches as they followed instructions and pressed their opponents hard. They were always snapping at their opponents, but could not sustain the pace for 70 minutes.
“I will work on their fitness further, and they should put up a good performance in the World Cup,” said Rajan.
There will be 20 teams in four groups for the World Cup, with Malaysia hosting two groups, and Singapore two groups.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) will release the groupings by the end of the month, while the qualified teams are defending champions Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England, Poland, Russia, Chile, US and New Zealand.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Australia gold, Malaysia blow bronze

AUSTRALIA have risen to the occasion in another extra-time hockey thriller at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney.
But Malaysia lost 5-2 to Great Britain in the bronze play-off, after showing some promise in the pool matches.
With a capacity crowd in the main grandstand, it was a perfect afternoon free of the heat, rain and thunder that plagued the earlier days of hockey competition.
They made their mark early in the gold medal match with Kieren Govers scoring in the third minute to put pressure on the Indian gold medal favourites.

India was unsuccessful in several penalty corners awarded in the first 20 minutes, and the Australian attack kept them moving around.
The Aussies forced an error in the 29th minute and were awarded a penalty corner, but a desperate save from India’s goal keeper Mrinal Chaubey kept them from scoring.
The young Australian men had the height advantage, but the speed of the Indian players was a challenge throughout the first half.
There was a close call for Australia in the 43rd minute, but some excellent defence, and a bit of luck kept India at bay.
Govers was a force in the Australian forward line, showing exceptional ball control and speed with several intercepts to break Indian defence but Indian Pramod Kumar evened the score in the 55th minute.
With a score of 1-1 at full time, the game went into two periods of extra time and it was Jason Donohoe of Australia who became a national hero in the 76th minute with a goal that thrilled the crowd.
“I’m really proud to be an Australian at the moment,” Josh White, captain of the side said. “More so to be with this group of guys.”

Extra Time AUS 2 – 1 IND
Full time score: AUS 1 – 1 IND
Half time score: AUS 1 – 0 IND

AUS 2, Govers 3”, Donohoe 76”
IND 1, Kumar 55”.

Georgia Gilson

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Malaysia crumble to a draw

A strong Indian men’s hockey team have drawn with Malaysia today in a crowd stunner that saw a 5-3 Malaysian lead stolen in the final minutes of the match.

India scored in the seventh minute off a sound penalty corner, and Malaysia looked to have scored immediately after, but after some consideration from the umpires, the goal was denied.

Throughout the first half, as India scored, Malaysia was close behind, until the score was 3-3 at half time.

Malaysia surprised the crowd with two quick goals in the opening minutes of the second half to take the score to 5-3, and then in the 61st minute the Indian team managed to narrow their losing margin off a penalty corner.

In the final minutes, India scored an equaliser off a short corner. It was a case of déjà vu for Malaysia, who also missing a win in the final minutes on Wednesday against Great Britain.

India will go on to the men’s gold medal match tomorrow against Australia, and Malaysia will play Great Britain for the bronze.

Full time score: MAS 5 - 5 IND
Half time score: MAS 3 – 3 IND

IND 5, Karan 9”, Diwakar 19”, 24”, 61”, 67”.
MAS 5, Abdul Gaffar 7”, 33”, Ahmad Tajuddin 21”, Makbul Singh 39”, Abdul Hamid 39”.

In the second women’s match of the day, India and USA were both keen to notch up their first win for the AYOF.

Strong ball skills from India gave them an initial advantage, but the American girls showed a hunger for possession, which they maintained throughout the game.

A dangerous high ball early in the first half secured India a penalty corner, but they were unable to score.

At the half-time siren, the patient crowds were yet to see a goal from either team, leaving everything up to the final 35 minutes of the game.

India was unlucky in the 41st minute with a strong attempt on goal hitting the cross bar and denying them the first point of the game.

It was a relief for India to score the first goal of the game in the 56th minute of the game, which gave them an obvious morale boost, driving them to attack USA’s goal with renewed vigour.

A flawless series of short passes took India through to the US goal to increase their lead by another point just seconds before full time.

Full time score: IND 2 – 0 USA
Half time score: IND 0 – 0 USA

IND 2, Thockchom 56”, Tindal 69”.
USA 0.

Georgia Gilson


And in a friendly at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, Malaysia's Under-17 team beat Singapore Junior World Cup trainees 1-0. In the first friendly on Friday, Malaysia won 4-2.
The last friendlly will be held today (18-01-09).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Juniors lose 2-1 to Australia

MALAYSIA’S hopes of playing in the final of the Australian Olympic Youth Festival mathematically went up in smoke yesterday, when they lost 2-1 to Australia at the Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre.
India qualified for the final when they hammered Great Britain 6-1. India, who had beaten Australia 2-1 on Wednesday, have an unassailable six point lead, with a match against Malaysia tomorrow.
Australia wrap-up their fixtures against Great Britain, and are almost assured of the other final spot.
Malaysia will now have to beat India, and hope Australia lose to Great Britain to squeeze into the final.
Nor Hafiq Ghaffar handed Malaysia the lead in the first half, and Malaysia were looking good for an upset, but two soft goals off goal-mouth melees in the second half, saw the juniors fall on their face again.
“Now we have a mathematical chance if we beat India, which is not impossible. We were the better team against Australia and also Great Britain, but lost out because of some silly mistakes in defense,” said Juniors coach K. Rajan.
Rajan said this tournament has shown some flaws in the team, which he will work to rectify before the Junior World Cup in the middle of the year.
“The players have shown improvement in every match, but they lose concentration in the last 15 minutes. This must be rectified before the World Cup.”
RESULTS -- India 6 Great Britain 1; Malaysia 1 Australia 2.
FIXTURES: Tomorrow -- India v Malaysia, Great Britain v Australia.


P W D L F A Pts
INDIA 2 2 0 0 8 2 6
AUSTRALIA 2 1 0 1 3 3 3
MALAYSIA 2 0 1 1 5 6 1
BRITAIN 2 0 1 1 5 10 1

MHF invite Spain and South Africa

ONLY five teams confirmed their entries at the closing date of the Azlan Shah Cup yesterday, prompting the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) to send invitation to another two.
India, Pakistan, New Zealand, South Korea and Malaysia are the confirmed teams, while the MHF have invited South Africa and Spain to complete the cast.
The Azlan Shah Cup will be held in Ipoh on April 3-12.
Last year’s champions Argentina, Australia, Belgium Canada and England were among those who declined MHF’s invitation.
“Argentina could not make it because they will be playing in another tournament, while Australia said they have league commitment.
“We will invite Spain and South Africa, as we are looking for a seven-team tournament,” said MHF secretary Hashim Yusoff.
The team is being coached by Tai Beng Hai, while the MHF intensify their hunt for a foreign coach, with an eve to qualify for the 2010 India World Cup via the Asia Cup in Dubai, on May May 8-15.
In the last edition, Argentina beat India to the title, while the hosts ended at the bottom of the pool.

Costly last five seconds...

By Ajitpal Singh

THE National Juniors were five seconds away from victory against Great Britain but a freak goal allowed their op ponents to steal a point in their 4-4 draw on the opening day of the Australian Olympic Youth Festival hockey competition at the Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre yesterday.
The Juniors were actually in the driver’s seat six minutes from time when they led 4-2 before the late fight back by Britain.
Mohd Hasami and Harvinder Singh gave them a 2-1 led at half time before Mohd Nor Hafiq Hamid added the third and fourth, both off penalty corner set-pieces in the second half.
The juniors, however, could not keep their healthy lead and with six minutes to go, Britain pulled one back.
With five seconds left on the clock, Britain earned a free hit just outside the circle.
Everyone in the circle missed the ball but fortunately for Britain the ball rebounded off the Malaysian post onto Martin Scanlon path, who pushed the ball into the empty net.

Coach Rajan said his charges played their best match since he took charge last year.
“There is progress but my boys’ need to work on their focus and composure. My charges’ cannot afford to let in goals in crucial stages of a match,” said Rajan when contacted in Sydney yesterday.
“Anyway, it’s good that I’m aware of this now as it will give me enough time to work on their weaknesses before the Junior World Cup.”
The juniors will take on hot favourites Australia today and Rajan believes victory is not impossible.
Australia, will be on full throttle against Malaysia, after their shocking 2-1 loss to India yesterday.

Monday, January 12, 2009

WAIS lesson for Juniors

THE National Juniors lost 4-0 to a senior Western Aus tralian Institute of Sports (WAIS) team in the run-up to the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in Sydney from Jan 14-18.
This was their second match against the WAIS team, and they lost 2-0 previously. The Juniors also lost 3-1 to the Australian Under-20 team.
But coach K. Rajan is not worried: “I have 26 players here, and fielded a mixed team in the first half, and we were 3-0 down at the hooter.
“Then I fielded our best in the second half, and they held on well and only conceded one goal.”
Malaysia will play against India, Australia and Great Britain in the AYOF.
“GB has been down for the last 10 days, and have put in some serious training. India (who drew 2-2 with Australia) are also a good side.
“We have taped our opponents, and my judgement is that al the teams here are almost of the same standard, and the tournament will be a tough-and-go affair.”
The Malaysian juniors will use AYOF as a training ground for the Junior World Cup on June 7-21.

Fitness on the rise

Malaysia’s Baljit Singh Charun Singh and Australia's Smith Andrew, during the Champions Trophy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007.
Malaysia's Kelvinder Singh, left, battles the ball with Australia's Bevan George during the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament Final in Ipoh, Malaysia, Sunday, May 13, 2007.

THE National seniors underwent a fitness test yesterday, and all 30 surpassed the benchmark, while there were a handful of surprises for coaches Tai Beng Hai and his assistant Nor Saiful Zaini.
The benchmark of 13, was no longer a problem, while Kelvinder Singh and Baljit Singh Charun Singh are at the 15 level.
And it was indeed a surprise, as the players had only re- grouped for one week after playing in the Malaysia Hockey League.
“The players start at 6am, with fitness in the the morning session and set-pieces in the evening. I am happy to see that there is a marked improvement, not only in the physical aspect, but also a more positive attitude towards training,” said Nor Saiful, a former skipper.
And the old hands in the team, like Chua Boon Huat, Madzli Ikmar, S. Kumar and Amin Rahim were among the leaders in the fitness test.
Nor Saiful is working to improve Malaysia’s penalty corner battery, by training two hitters. He was a terror during his playing days, and scored many international goals with his dipping shots which sailed over the goalkeeper but hit the board nevertheless.
“I am training Ismail (Abu) and Engku (Malek) to hit during penalty corners, and even though it has only been a few days, but both the players are getting the hang of it.
“We just can’t rely on flickers in a match, and Ismail and Engku should be ready in two months time,” said Nor Saiful.
Baljit Singh Sarjab Singh, whose performance has been on the slide, has also showed a marked improvement.
“Baljit now has a more positive attitude, and has shown some improvement in his flicks. He is now training to keep the ball between the posts, and after this, we will concentrate to improve on his power,” said Nor Saiful.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) are still in the hunt for a foreign coach, but the two locals they have chosen as an interim measure, have achieved much in a short span.
Fitness, especially when national players are re-called after the MHL, have always been a problem over the years, but the players have shown that they are ready to give their best this season.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pahang come out of coma

AFTER a lapse of about 10 years, the Pahang HA will finally organise a league in line with the aspirations of Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Tengku Abdullah, in his maiden speech after becoming the president two months ago, had said that states must have an active league to nurture a bigger pool of talent.
And his home state, after being in a state of comatose for a decade, are now in the midst of planning for a league to commence in the middle of the year.
“I have been the Pahang HA secretary for close to five years, and even before me, there was no league here, but now, we will make sure players have an evenue to sharpen their skills,” said Pahang HA secretary Dr Aziz Hamid.
Pahang, said Aziz, is a geographical nightmare as the affiliates are far flung from Cameron Highlands right up to Kuantan, so they will start with clubsides instead of district teams.
“Pahang is a large state, so for a start, we will hold the league for clubs and it will run it for two months at the least.
“After that, we will slowly expand to include district teams as well,” said Dr Aziz.
Pahang will also kick-start development of tiny-tots, with hockey lessons arranged for those from the age of five to seven.
“We will start the five to seven age group training this month, and it will be held every Saturday where parents can bring their children, and the basics are taught.
“After a few months, we will hold a tournament for this group, so as not to make it too boring for the kids,” said Aziz.
Kuala Lumpur HA have the most active hockey league in the country, but the same can’t be said about the rest of MHF’s affiliates.
The majority of states are in as sorry a state as Pahang, but this is expected to change under the leadership of Tengku Abdullah.

Confucious say....

If he was alive today, I bet he would have said so. This is a break from hockey, everybody needs one. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Last five minutes costly blunders

THE National Juniors were at the verge of snatching a draw against the Australian Under-20 side yesterday, but two quick goals in the last five minutes saw them lose 3-1.
The Juniors are in Sydney to play a series of friendlies and then compete in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in Sydney from Jan 14-18.
“We were down 0-1 and equalised through a penalty corner goal from Faizal Saari and were looking good for a draw, but Australia scored two goals with five minutes remaining in the match.
“However, I feel this is the best match my charges have played so far, and the fact that they were all under-20, is a positive sign,” said Juniors coach K. Rajan.
In the under-20 AYOF, Malaysia will be up against the hosts, Great Britain and India.
The Juniors had seven penalty corners yesterday, and after Faizal scored the first, Rajan used Nor Hafiq Ghaffar for the other six, which were all direct flicks.
“We did not try and set-pieces, as we will be playing this Australian side in the AYOF. And the feeling after the match, is that we will do much better in the tournament proper.
Today is a rest day, while their third friendly is against Australian Institute of Sports tomorrow.
Malaysia also lost their opening friendly 2-0 on Friday against a senior Western Australian Institute of Sports (WAIS) team.

Coaching Committee forgive and forget

Former International Nor Azlan Bakar was given six months to obtain paper qualifications.

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) Coaching Committee chairman Dr Balbir Singh bit the bullet when he met state chairmen for the first time, and in the end, closed ranks on a number of pressing issues.
The committee, who were not consulted before coaches and assistants were named for the seniors, juniors and under-16 teams, did not make any changes, but decided to add more to the list.
And two former internationals who did not have any paper qualifications, were given a six-month grace period to do so.
“Agreed that the procedure of naming coaches before the coaching committee could meet state chairmen and get feedback was wrong, but for the good of hockey, all the appointments were ‘endorsed’ and more names were added to the pool of assistant coaches,” said Balbir.
National juniors assistant Lailin Abu Hassan and under-16 assistant Nor Azlan Bakar do not have any paper qual ifications, but they were given a chance to obtain them.
“We will be conducting courses soon, and we have given Lailin and Nor Azlan Bakar a grace period of six months to obtain their paper qualifications,” said Balbir.
The Under-16, coached by K. Dharmaraj, will see more school teachers roped into the pool of assistant coaches.
But the kid-glove approached stopped here, as Balbir said they would like to have a hand in selecting and endorsing the foreign coach.
“It has always been a practice for the NSC (National Sports Council) to find and name a foreign coaches, but we hope to play a bigger role this time. We should be allowed to check the coaches credentials, at the very least, before he signs his contract.”
And the coaching committee also endorsed another strict guideline for club and state coaches.
“From now onwards, only Level Three coaches can handle teams in premier tournaments like the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League) and the Razak Cup.
“And coaches for other tournaments must at least have a Level Two certificate to be eligible to sit on the bench,” said Balbir.
Before this, any interested party could band players and call himself a coach, and even compete in the MHL.
The other drastic change was the implementation of report cards for players at every level.
“We distributed forms to state chairmen to distribute to their coaches. The coaches will keep a database on all their players individually, and this will help us determine if a player is progressing, and warrants more attention, or is just passing his time playing hockey.”
All this recommendations, will be forwarded to the MHF management committee or council for endorsement, and this would, in a loose sense, place the horse in front of the cart again.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Juniors lose 2-0 to WAIS

THE National Juniors lost 2-0 to Western Australian Institute of Sports (WAIS) in their run-up to the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in Sydney from Jan 14-18.
Malaysia are in Sydney to play a few friendlies, before the tournament proper, and today they will meet the Australian Juniors in a friendly.
In the under-20 AYOF, Malaysia will be up against the hosts, Great Britain and India.
“We were down 1-0 by the half-time, and WAIS scored in the final minutes to make it 2-0. The team played well, and my personal opinion is that a draw would have been a fair result,” said Juniors coach K. Rajan.
While the WAIS was a senior outfit, and Rajan tested all his players, he will field his best against the Australian Juniors today.
“I will have a better idea tomorrow (today) as both the teams will be of the same age. I will field the best, and it should be an interesting match.”
Malaysia have taken 26 players for the Tour-cum-tour nament, and will return on Jan 24, as more friendlies have been arranged after the AYOF.

Coaching Committee a rubber-stamp?

By Jugjet Singh

THE new Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) is only two months old, and acted its age, when it made a serious booboo in the coaching department.
Dr Balbir Singh has been appointed as the Coaching Committee chairman, and will hold his first meeting with representatives from every affiliate today.
But amazingly, the list of coaches for the seniors, junior and under-16 teams were released by MHF deputy president Nur Azmi Ahmad on Dec 28, just before the start of the Malaysia Hockey League final.
The only vacant spot left for the coaching committee to fill up today is posts for the National B team.
In other words the Coaching Committee has been turned into a rubber-stamp, with no respect for state affiliates’ views.
The correct procedure is for the Coaching Committee to recommend names, and the MHF Council endorses, or rejects.
This ‘cart before the horse situation’ could turn sticky today, if the state affiliates do not agree with the list of coaches released by their deputy president.
It was announced then that Tai Beng Hai will be the caretaker seniors coach, while Nur Saiful Zaini as his assistant until a foreign coach is signed, preferably by mid- January. The team manager was named as George Koshy.
As for the juniors, K. Rajan was named as coach while Bob Rajendran, Lailin Abu Hassan and Nur Saiful Azli as as sistants. The team manager named was Johari AbdulAziz.
K. Dharmaraj was named as the Under-16 coach, while his assistants are M. Gobinathan and Azlan Bakar and the team manager Mirnawan Nawawi.
When Dr Balbir was asked about this sticky situation, he said that the reverse was done because coaches were in urgent need, and he hoped that his state members, when they arrive today, will be understanding enough to close ranks on the matter.
But already, fingers are being pointed at several per sonalities who are said to have lobbied and placed their men in the list above, and this could turn into a burning question which will make closing ranks almost impossible.
So hastily were the names announced, that paper cre dentials for the coaches were also not checked at all, and will only be scrutinised today.
One understands that there is an urgent need for re placement coaches after Sarjit Singh, Gurmit Singh and Shahid Ali Khan’s contracts were not renewed.
But in their haste, the MHF forgot to consult their most valuable asset -- state affiliates.
One state affiliate said the meeting could turn ugly, as he feels his men have more experience and better credentials but were not even considered.
But it shouldn’t turn into a finger pointing and chest thumping exercise as what the affiliates, though procedure was not followed, must remember that Malaysian hockey is in dire straits.
The national team are ranked 15th in the world, will be playing in the third-tier Champions Challenge II and need all the help they can get.
The coaches and manager have been named and rather than rocking the boat, the affiliates must pledge their support and help take hockey out of the woods.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

FIH Clarify Report

THE International Hockey Federation (FIH) yesterday clarified that no draw for the 2009 Junior World Cup has been made yet, as they are waiting for confirmation from participating teams.
Timesport had written yesterday that the draw has been made and Malaysia are in an European group made up of Germany, Poland, Spain and Belgium.
FIH Communications Manager Arjen Meijer clarified yesterday via e-mail: “The FIH never released any pools for the Junior World Cup, as we are still waiting for the confirmation of the participants by 16 January 2009. We hope to release the pools at the end of this month.”
Malaysia and Singapore will co-host the Junior World Cup on June 7-21, with 20 teams competing.
The FIH website, however, has named the 20 teams which have qualified and they are defending champions Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England, Poland, Russia, Chile, US and New Zealand.

European cast for Malaysia

By Ajitpal Singh

MALAYSIA are in big trouble even before the first whistle of the Junior World Cup, as they have been placed in an European group-of-death, going by the groupings released by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

Germany, Belgium, Poland and Spain are in Malaysia’s group, while co-hosts Singapore have kinder bed-mates for the World Cup, which will be held on June 7-21.
Singapore have Egypt, Japan, Australia and New Zealand for company. There are four groups of five teams each, with the top-two teams advancing to the quarter-finals.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) received the Groupings for the 20-team tournament a few days back, but have yet to release it to the Press, because it was learnt that they are unhappy with Malaysia’s opponents.
But Malaysia and Singapore’s groupings were obtained from an international source, as the FIH had sent it to other competing countries as well.
Two more groups could not be obtained but they will be made up of Argentina, Chile, England, India, South Korea, Netherlands, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa and the United States.
A hockey observer, when told about Malaysia’s group, said it is akin to climbing up Mount Everest without Sherpa guides.
“All I can say is that good luck to the MHF, and coaches, as we all know that playing European teams is never easy. And I am also surprised on how four of them ended up with Malaysia. The boys have Mount Everest to climb, just to qualify for the knock-out stage,” said the source.
While Singapore is expected to greet the grouping with a smile, Malaysia are expected to bring up the matter with the FIH, as the hosts feel they have received an unkind cut.
But, it is unlikely that the FIH will budge from their stand, as they have their own formula on grouping teams for tournaments.
For the record, Malaysia ended 10th the the last Junior World Cup in 2004.
The Malaysian juniors left for Sydney last night, with coach K. Rajan leading a cast of 26 trainees who will play a series of friendlies as well as compete in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney on Jan 14-18.
The juniors will play against Australia, Great Britain and India in the quadrangular.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

26 for Australian Youth Olympic

NATIONAL Juniors coach K. Rajan will take take 26 players to the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney from Jan 14-18, as a string of friendlies are also on the cards.
Malaysia will be up against Junior World Cup silver medallists Australia, Great Britain and India in the quad rangular, which is an important run-up to the Junior World Cup.
“Since the tournament is an under-20 event, the MHF (Malaysian Hockey Federation) decided that 26 players will be taken on the Tour, and play in a series of friendlies before and after the Youth Olympic Festival,” said Rajan.
The team will leave on Jan 7, and have arranged for friendlies with the New South Wales Institute of Sports and the Australian Under-20 side until the tournament proper starts.
“In the Youth Festival, we will first play Great Britain, then Australia and the final round-robbin match is against India, who replaced New Zealand.
“The top-two teams will play in the final, while the other two will play for the bronze medal.”
After the tournament, the Juniors will again be involved in friendlies and return home on Jan 24.
Malaysia and Singapore will co-host the Junior World Cup, an Under-21 event, on June 7-21.
The 20 teams which have qualified for the World Cup are defending champions Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England, Poland, Russia, Chile, US and New Zealand.
“I already have a picture of the first-11, and they will be tested to the limit in the friendlies and tournament. It will also be an avenue for the reserves and back-up players to prove themselves,” said Rajan.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Still no assistant secretary, general manager

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have yet to name an assistant secretary or have a general Manager after holding their Biennial General Meeting in October last year.
Before the elections, N. Krishnan was assistant to Hashim Yusoff, but he was not named to continue his duties, as newly elected president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had said that another candidate will be named soon.
But is has been two months since, and the MHF are running without an assistant secretary or a general manager.
“No, we have not named an assistant to Hashim, and neither do we have a general manager.
“This is because Tengku Abdullah had said that he will name the assistant secretary, while we have requested for a general manager from the NSC (National Sports Council), but have yet to receive any recommendations,” said MHF deputy president Nur Azmi Ahmad.
The MHF previously had K. Paramasivam as their general manager, but after Raja Nazrin Shah moved out of hockey, the post has been left vacant since 2006.
On another matter, Azmi said preparations for the Junior World Cup are running smoothly.
“I recently met the players and had a talk with them, and they were in great spirits. Even though there are still some aspects lacking in players, I am confident the coach (K. Rajan) will be able to overcome them before the middle of next year,” said Azmi.
Malaysia and Singapore will co-host the Junior World Cup on June 7-21, with 20 teams competing for the title last won by Argentina in 2004.
The 20 teams which have qualified for the World Cup are defending champions Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England, Poland, Russia, Chile, US and New Zealand.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Beng Hai might have to stay longer

TAI Beng Hai officially became the interim coach today, but he should face no problems handling the players, as most of them were with him when he was the national juniors assistant coach in 2004.
A majority of the 2004 Rotterdam junior world cup players made the grade to the senior side, and Beng Hai knows them like the back of his hands.
“I see no problems with the players as I know their playing style, while they know me as they practically grew up with Sarjit Singh (former national coach) and I when we were preparing for Rotterdam,” said Beng Hai.
Beng Hai graduated as the juniors coach in 2006, when Sarjit was elevated to the seniors side, but he quit the post in October 2007 because of other commitments.
He came back as the women’s coach, but has accepted an offer to return to the men.
“I start training on Jan 5, and have recalled 30 players for training purposes. Only S. Kuhan and Jiwa Mohan are not on the list, while the rest are the same,” said Beng Hai.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) did not extend Sarjit Singh’s contract, which expired on Dec 31, and are now looking for a foreign coach to chart Malaysia’s future. Beng Hai has been named as an interim measure, but it looks like he might be ‘stuck’ with the job.
The Azlan Shah Cup is in April, while the Asia Cup in May, and the MHF have had no luck with the foreign coaches that they have approached.
“We are still looking for a suitable foreign coach but it wont be easy as our ream is ranked 15th in the world, while the targets are too close.
“We have to do well in the Asia Cup (which offers the gold medallist direct entry into the 2010 Delhi World Cup) and that is why we cant hurry and just hire any foreign coach,” said MHF deputy president Nur Azmi Ahmad.
MHF had looked towards South Korea, Australia and Europe for coaches, but all of them have prior commitments, and it is almost akin to scratching the barrel right now.

Problems await Beng Hai

THIS may not be the best way to start a new year but lazy players and a support system that is not producing quality second liners mean Malaysia can forget about qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

In fact, Malaysia may also have to forgo the London Olympics two years later is the frank assessment of a former international who has handled the national team in the past.
"Two problems have combined to become a major headache. The current batch of players take home between RM3,000 to RM6,000 monthly, depending on their status.
"Money from the National Sports Council (NSC) and clubs or employers, combined with no challengers for their national team positions have led to many (of them) becoming complacent," said the former coach who declined to be identified.
But he knows what he is talking about as he has first hand experience with the players.
"So, in training, they do not give 100 per cent, as they know that they will be selected anyway, and this attitude is carried onto the pitch when they play in a tournament.
"This 'tidak apa' attitude has taken out the competitive edge in training as well as tournaments, and that is why we had to come from behind to draw 4-4 against Italy in the Japan Olympics Qualifier (last year)."
"Too much of the night life has also taken its toll on players and giving them a break can be a nightmare as they will report back unfit.
"I am not against players enjoying themselves, as it is good to de-stress, but there are a few who over-indulge and come for training looking sleepy and disinterested."
The coach said the problem is common knowledge in the hockey fraternity.
"The hockey circle knows about these problems, but all efforts to eradicate them have been futile thus far.
"I want to highlight these problems again, not to bring disrepute to anyone, but for the new MHF (Malaysian Hockey Federation) regime and whoever is appointed as the next coach to be wary abut the pitfalls."
The disparity between the seniors and juniors, according to him, was glaring in the Malaysia Hockey League.
"The seniors (Ernst & Young) won both titles this year, but were given a fight till the end by a team made up of former internationals (Sapura).
"This shows that there is not much progress in the new batch, as they should have won comfortably against players who are now quite portly and slow.
"The national juniors couldn't even match the former internationals so what hope is there?

"And this problem will only become bigger in the next few years as there is very little talent in the juniors to be drafted into the senior side, and qualifying for the London Olympics will be very difficult."
Tai Beng Hai, who assumes the caretaker coach position today, probably knows all this but imagine the shock that, when MHF hires him, awaits the foreign coach.