Saturday, February 28, 2009

Zeeshan Ashraf set to skipper Pakistan

By Khalid Hussain

KARACHI: Seasoned defender Zeeshan Ashraf is all set to return as Pakistan captain in the five-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Malaysia in April, writes Khalid Hussain.
Sources told ‘The News’ that when Pakistan will select their 18-man squad for the Azlan Shah Cup in the second half of March, Zeeshan is most likely to get a recall as captain.
The Quetta-based Zeeshan, who will celebrate his 32nd birthday on Saturday (tomorrow), led Pakistan in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing last August but was ‘rested’ for the four-nation Hamburg Masters in Germany — Pakistan’s last international assignment. Striker Shakeel Abbasi was appointed as captain for the Hamburg quadrangular last October.
Zeeshan was included in a list of 40 odd players selected in the preliminary squad for the Azlan Shah Cup to be played in Ipoh from April 6-12.
He is one of the senior most players in the pool and is all set to be recalled in the national team that will be selected after trials next month.
Also in contention for captaincy are former skipper Muhamnmad Saqlain, who has impressed team officials with his fitness during the ongoing camp.
However, Saqlain is infamous for his temperamental nature and it is more likely that the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) will opt for Zeeshan as the Pakistan captain for the Malaysian tour.
Former champions Pakistan will join New Zealand (world No 7), India (11th), Malaysia (15) and Egypt (20th) in the Azlan Shah Cup. They will open their title campaign with a match against hosts Malaysia on April 6.
The provisional squad for the Ipoh assignment is currently preparing for the tournament at the National Stadium in Lahore.
Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan told ‘The News’ on Thursday that he and fellow coaches are working hard on helping the players improve their fitness during the ongoing conditioning camp.
He said that most of the 38 players currently attending the camp are undergoing strenuous training sessions and hoped that Pakistan will be able to raise a strong team for the Ipoh contest.
A total of 42 players were picked in the provisional squad but four senior players are unavailable for the Azlan Shah Cup because of their club commitments in The Netherlands. Drag flick ace Sohail Abbas, striker Rehan Butt, midfielder Waseem Ahmed and goal-keeper Salman Akber have been exempted from the training camp and the Ipoh assignment by the PHF.
Pakistan have decided to use the Azlan Shah Cup as a warm-up event for this May’s Asia Cup to be held in Dubai.
The Asia Cup to be played from May 8-15 will serve as the qualifying round for the 2010 World Cup in India. The new Asia Cup winners will earn a direct spot for the quadrennial spectacle.
“Our sights are set on the Asia Cup and all our planning is being carried out in a way that we take a team to Dubai that is good enough to win the title,” said Shahid, a former Olympian.

BJSS pull the plug on Tenaga

BPSS Juniors’ Muhammad Amirul Aided Md Arshad (left) takes on Setapak High’s Muhammad Aidil Zainal in their Malaysia Hockey League match at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium yesterday. Setapak won 3-1. Pix: MOHD YUSNI ARIFFIN

DOUBLE champions Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) brushed aside title contenders Tenaga Nasional 3-2 yesterday to remain on track for a glorious finish in Division Two of the Malaysia Hockey League.

Playing at the Tun Razak Stadium, BJSS -- made up of Under-17 players, drew first blood but allowed Tenaga to lead 2-1 before coming back strongly to seal the match.
Hairulnizam Maizan gave BJSS the lead in the eighth minute, but a brace from Sabri Mohamed in the 12th and 16th minutes, off penalty corners, gave Tenaga a brief lifeline.
Dangerous Lee Mathew re-ignited the fire in BJSS when he equalised from an acute angle in the 24th minute, and Fahed Saifullah sealed the match with a 62nd minute stinger.
"It was a close encounter, and the turning point was when Dangerous equalised. My boys started playing with more confidence, and we have moved a step closer to the title," said BJSS coach S. Prakash.
But Prakash said their work is far from finished.
"We still have eight more matches to play, and from what I have seen, Anderson, Olak and a few other teams have come in well prepared this year."
BJSS players were falling like ten-pins, as cramps hit them hard in the last 10 minutes of the match, indicating that their fitness is still not up to the mark.
RESULTS -- Division One: Bukit Jalil Sports School 3 Tenaga Nasional 2, Petaling Jaya City Council 3 Malacca 2, Kijang Mas 0 Batu Pahat 2, Olak 2 Anderson 1, Bandar Penawar Sports School 2 BJSS Juniors 0, Setapak High 3 BPSS Juniors 1.
Division Three: Matri 3 Temerloh 4, Nur Insafi 2 English College 0, Penang 4 Datuk Taha 3, TBSS-Tampin 5 Kuala Selangor 1, Selangor 2 Perlis 5.
TOMORROW -- Division One: Bukit Jalil Sports School v Anderson (Tun Razak Stadium, 5pm), Kijang Mas v Petaling Jaya CC (Terengganu, 5pm), Malacca v Bukit Jalil Sports School Juniors (Malacca, 5pm), Bandar Penawar SS v Batu Pahat (Bandar Penawar, 5pm).
Division Three: Nur Insafi v TBSS-Tampin (Sungai Petani, 5pm), Penang v Perlis (USM, 5pm), Datuk Taha v Temerloh (Tampin, 5pm), Selangor v English College (Pandamaran , 3pm), Kuala Selangor v Matri (Pandamaran, 5pm).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Anderson better prepared

They have won the Champion Schools title 11 times but their best finish in the Junior League was a third place in 2002. A year before they finished fourth.
But after the opening weekend of matches, things are looking up for the Ipoh team as they won both their ties -- against Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and Kijang Mas Kelantan.
Not only did the wins boost their morale, but the win over MBPJ was their first-ever over the Klang Valley team since playing in the JHL. The two early wins are unique as Anderson have never made a good start in the JHL.
"This is the best start we have ever had and I hope we will be able to collect at least four points from our matches this weekend," said coach Mokhtar Baharuddin.
"In particular I am pleased with our performance against MBPJ as my players tend to have a mental block when playing them. The win over MBPJ was what we were looking for to kick-start our campaign on a positive note."
But Mokhtar, who has eight players from last year's squad, knows that this weekend will be a test of character for his team. Anderson take on Olak in Klang on Friday before playing BJSS Under 17 at the Tun Razak Stadium on Sunday.
"It is not going to be easy playing Olak in Klang as they play very well at home with the crowd behind them. But I am optimistic we have the ability to nick all three points if the players reproduce their form," Mokhtar added.
"As for BJSS, it will be difficult but I am counting of getting at least a point off them. They have some experienced players in their ranks and will start as favourites."
Mokhtar said that while Anderson always did well in the Champion Schools, they found it tough to transfer their form to the JHL.
"This is due to the fact that we can only utilise players who are still in school," said Mokhtar, who has coached Anderson in the JHL since 1997.
"The clubsides have an advantage as they can field older players. Still, I am hoping for better fortune this time around."
FRIDAY -- Division Two: BJSS v TNB (6pm); Tun Razak Stadium); MBPJ v MSN Malacca (8pm); Tun Razak Stadium); Kijang Mas v MSJ MPBP (5pm); Kuala Terengganu); OLAK v Anderson (5pm); Pandamaran Stadium); BPSS v BJSS Jnr (5pm); BPSS Stadium); Setapak High v BPSS Jnr (6pm); Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium).
Division Three: Matri v SSP Temerloh (5pm); Kangar); Nur Insafi v MSAB (5pm); Sg Petani Hockey Stadium); MSS Penang v SMKDMT (5pm); USM Stadium); TBSS v SMK PP (5pm); Tampin Stadium); MSS Selangor v MSSPs/PHPs (3pm); Pan damaran Stadium).
SUNDAY -- Division Two: BJSS v Anderson (5pm); Tun Razak Stadium); Kijang Mas v MBPJ (5pm); Kuala Terengganu); MSN Malacca v BJSS Jnr (5pm); Malacca); BPSS v MSJ MPBP (5pm); BPSS Stadium)
Division Three: Nur Insafi v TBSS (5pm); Sg Petani); MSS Penang v MSSPs/PHPs (5pm); USM Stadium); SMKDMT v SSP Temerloh (5pm); Tampin); MSS Selangor v MSAB (3pm); Pandamaran Stadium); SMK PP v MATRI (5pm); Pandamaran Stadium).

Beng Hai gets early support

The national trainees are briefed before the start of a training session yesterday. — Pic: MOHD YUSNI ARIFFIN

TAI Beng Hai has passed his first test with flying colours as the national hockey coach.

This assessment was made by the National Sports Council (NSC), which received positive feedback from the 30 trainees in the squad and other coaching staff.
NSC director general Datuk Zolkples Embong said the players are happy that Beng Hai is emphasising on fitness.
"This is a good response from the players and I hope Beng Hai will keep up his good work. Fitness is the most important factor to attain success in sports," said Zolkples yesterday.
"Teams like South Korea are successful because of their superior fitness. We are happy to have someone like Beng Hai pushing the players to the limits in training.
"The national team have yet to play in tournaments under Beng Hai but I reckon they will be better prepared this time around when they play in the Azlan Shah Cup."
The April 6-12 tournament is Beng Hai's first major assignment and the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) expects the team to, at least, make the final.
New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Egypt are the other teams in the event.
The Azlan Shah Cup result will give Beng Hai a clearer picture on where his players stand ahead of the Asia Cup in Dubai (May 8-15), where the champions will qualify automatically for the 2010 World Cup.
Meanwhile, the national team will be without several key players when they leave for a playing tour in South Korea on Saturday.
Key players -- S. Kumar, Sharun Nabil, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Abdul Jalil, Muhd Razie Rahim, Zulkifli Rejab and S.Selvaraju -- are among the 12 players left out.
Kumar is getting married on March 21 while Sharun's wife is expecting their first child on March 25.
The others are currently undergoing rehabilitation for various injuries.
The team will play seven matches against club and university teams. The tour ends on March 11.

Old Boys behind TBSS' resurgence

FOR 30 years, hockey in Negri Sembilan was synonymous with St Paul's Institution and Tunku Besar Secondary School Tampin (TBSS).

While St Paul Institution (SPI) have somewhat slipped into oblivion over the past few years, TBSS are still going strong and their participation in the Malaysia Hockey League (Junior) is testament to the fact that hockey is alive and kicking in Tampin.
Playing in Division Three, TBSS opened their campaign with a 1-1 draw against English College before earning a 2-1 victory against Matri.
They will be out to continue their fine run when they take on SMK Pengkalan Permatang at home tomorrow before trekking up north to lock horns with Nur Insafi in Sungai Petani.
If SPI owed their success to the likes of Lawrence Van Huizen and William Fidelis as coaches, TBSS had V. Sivapathasundram to thank for putting them on the hockey map.
And the team in the MHL (Junior) this time around is being coached by old boy and former Negri player B. P. Moorthie.
Some of the big names who started their hockey careers with TBSS are N. Palanisamy, Dr Brian Jayhan Siva and current national goalkeeper S. Kumar.
Palanisamy was a member of the 1975 World Cup team that finished fourth while Brian, who is now based in Perth, played a crucial role in helping Malaysia win bronze at the 1990 Asian Games.
But for the past 10 years, TBSS, which used to be the top hockey school in the State, slipped into the backwaters due to lack of support from the school administration.
That role was soon taken over by SM Dato Mohd Taha Gemencheh who owed their success largely to workaholic coach Roslan Mohamed.
But the balance of power is about to shift again towards TBSS and this has largely to do with the artificial turf which is a hand-me-down from the Seremban II Stadium and the involvement of former students in the coaching set-up.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tenaga stamp their mark

TENAGA Nasional beat Malacca 3-1 in Division Two of the Malaysia Hockey League at the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium yesterday.
Malacca, who took an early lead, controlled major portions of the match and Tenaga were lucky to walk away with three points as they played in patches.
Malacca were guilty of missing too many easy chances. Hanif Rahim gave Malacca the lead in the 19th minute off a penalty corner attempt, only for Tenaga to equalise six minutes later through Sabri Mohamed. Tenaga went on to seal the match with a brace from Aminuddin Abu in the 28th and 58th minutes. Aminuddin is the younger brother of national striker Ismail Abu.
"We took our chances well, and Aminuddin gave us the lifeline by scoring two crucial goals. It was a close match. My boys have much to learn before they can perform well as a unit," said Tenaga coach Nor Azlan Bakar.
Malacca coach Azrul Effendy Bistamam, a former player himself, said the strikers were a let-down.
"We created more chances than Tenaga and could have sealed the match in the first half but my strikers were blunt. We lost good ground after taking the lead," said Azrul.
Double champions Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) also had a good weekend outclassing Bandar Penawar Sports School Juniors 4-0.
The BJSS goals came courtesy of Faridzul Afiq (26th and 28th), Azri Hassan (58th) and Shazril Irwan (60th).
The Batu Pahat-OLAK and Tunku Besar-Matri matches were called-off due to heavy rain.
RESULTS -- Division Two: BJSS Juniors 2 Setapak High 7, Petaling Jaya CC 1 BPSS 4, BPSS Juniors 0 BJSS 4, Anderson 3 Kijang Mas 0, Tenaga Nasional 3 MSN Malacca 1, Batu Pahat v Olak (rained off).
Division Three: Perlis 0 Nur Insafi 3, Penang 1 Temerloh 1, TBSS-Tampin v Matri (rained off), Selangor 3 Datuk Taha 2, English College 3 Kuala Selangor 2.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Easy wins for BJSS and Tenaga Nasional

Setapak High School’s Muhammad Aidil Zainal (front) vies with Kijang Mas Kelantan’s Muhammad Sufwan Hassan in their match at KLHA Stadium yesterday. The match ended 0-0. Pic: KHALID REDZA

FAVOURITES Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) and Tenaga Nasional stamped their mark with convincing opening wins in Division Two of the Malaysia Hockey League yesterday.

Double champions BJSS, fielding Under-17 players, beat Batu Pahat 4-0, while Tenaga Nasional thumped BJSS Juniors 5-0.
BJSS took the lead in the 19th minute off Izad Hakimi, and then scored three more off Yusof Mohamed Nor (31st), Hairulnizam Maizan (52nd) and Dangerous Lee Mathew (70th).
Tenaga got their goals off Sabri Mohamed (14th), Faizal Yaacob (33rd), Hafizul Akmal (40th, 50th) and Hizzat Sumantri (68th).
And former champions Old La Sallians Association of Klang (Olak) also got off to a winning start when they beat Bandar Penawar Sports School (BPSS) Juniors 3-2.
"It was a close game, but my boys took the chances that came their way and we managed to start on a good note. However, it is too early to celebrate as we will be meeting better prepared teams.
"Our target is to try and play in the quarter-finals, which means we have to play much better to be among the top-six in Division Two," said Olak team manager Joseph de Silva.
At the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium, Kijang Mas of Kelantan stunned Project School Setapak High, when they held them to a 0-0 draw. However, the Setapak side fielded Under-17 players while Kelantan had Under-19 players.
The only major casualties of the day were Petaling Jaya Municipal Council, who lost 2-0 to Anderson of Ipoh.
RESULTS -- Division Two: BJSS Juniors 0 Tenaga Nasional 5, MSN Malacca 1 Bandar Penawar Sports School 1, BPSS Juniors 2 Olak 3, Setapak High School 0 Kijang Mas Kelantan 0, Anderson 2 Petaling Jaya City Council 0, Batu Pahat 0 Bukit Jalil Sports School 4.
Division Three: Matri 0 MSS Penang 0, Nur Insafi 5 Datuk Taha 2, MSS Selangor 0 MSS Temerloh 1, Kuala Selangor 1 MSS Perlis 6, English College 1 Tampin-TBSS 1.
TOMORROW -- Division Two: BJSS Juniors v Setapak High (Tun Razak Stadium, 5pm), Petaling Jaya CC v BPSS (Tun Razak 7pm), BPSS Juniors v BJSS (Bandar Penawar, 5pm), Anderson v Kijang Mas (Azlan Shah Stadium, 5pm), Tenaga Nasional v MSN Malacca (KLHA Stadium, 5pm), Batu Pahat v Olak (Batu Pahat, 5pm).
Division Three: Perlis v Nur Insafi (Kangar, 5pm), Penang v Temerloh (USM Stadium, 5pm), TBSS-Tampin v Matri (Tampin, 5pm), Selangor v Datuk Taha (Pandamaran Stadium, 5pm), English College v Kuala Selangor (Johor Baru, 5pm).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

TM: Hockey is for all races

By Tengku Abdullah
(The writer is the Malaysian Hockey Federation president )

WELL, I must say it has been a challenging three months in office because hockey is a new sport to me, unlike football which I am comfortable with. Everything is new, and I am still learning the ropes but I have no regrets.

No regrets at all accepting the offer from the states to take up this hot-seat.
The only setback is that I have to start from scratch to know the players, officials and coaches. This is my only handicap since taking over.
And after supporting me into the hot-seat, I am now hot on the heels of affiliates as while time is short, we have many plans to realise.
I am glad that they (affiliates) have come up with many ideas to revive the sport like starting local leagues at the state level. They seem to have realised the importance of running leagues to develop players, but plans alone cannot achieve results, they must make sure the leagues are run well.
My home state, Pahang, will lead by example in this aspect. I know Pahang has been dormant for a long time, and now is the time for the state to show others how development should be conducted. We will start by training children (aged five to nine) on Sundays, and also organise a league. We must lead by example.
And there is talk that there is a break in ranks even though we are just months old, as decisions were taken without consulting relevant committees.
The MHF deputy president (Nur Azmi Ahmad) stands accused of naming the coaching set-up even before the coaching committee met for the first time.
I would like to set the record straight, by saying that there is no break in ranks.
Azmi did consult me on the list of new coaches and since time was short and we had to get people to coach the respective teams, I told him to announce it to the council members first, but somehow the media were told about it instead.
On the players, personally speaking, I have yet to see the teams (senior and juniors) in action in an international tournament and do not know their strengths and weaknesses. My information is from the coaches and officials who are close with the boys, and they seem to be confident that we will qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
I will have a better picture once I watch them in action in the Azlan Shah Cup (on April 6-12).
Many people have also questioned the wisdom of not renewing the contracts of the three coaches after I took over, but it had to be done, as the sport needed some drastic changes.
But then, we have had problems hiring a foreign coach with good credentials, as the top brains are all tied down with their contracts.
We are still searching for a suitable foreign coach but on the same breath, I am also happy with the work that Tai Beng Hai has done so far as interim coach. We will wait and see how things turn out in the next few months.
I am also of the opinion that local coaches must be given a chance to develop the youth, as this will be better in the long run.
On the players, I had a chat with them two weeks ago and stressed to them what they already know, that modern hockey is all about fitness. Hockey today is unlike the olden days, where skills alone could get one through. Now we need players who can run up and down for the duration of the match.
I told them I want 100 percent commitment, and those who smoke must stop. We aim to break into the top-10 bracket in the world, and we can't do that if players have bad habits.
It is now up to them, if they see hockey as a career, to stop smoking.
It has also come to my attention that Sabah and Sarawak (who have yet to produce a single national player since the MHF was formed) are feeling left behind as they are geographically challenged.
We will have a separate agenda for both the states, and start by asking them to organise their own local leagues.
They have been left out because they can't take part in what is going on in the peninsula. We will help them catch up.
And there has been talk that hockey in the Under-21 and below age-groups is slowly being dominated by a certain race.
I would like to stress here that, we (MHF) have no racial policies which block any race from playing hockey.
Hockey is for all, and we want Malays, Indians, Chinese and others to enjoy the sport. In this aspect, I hope the schooling system will help us keep it a multi-racial sport.
It has been a hectic three months, but we still have a long way to go before we reach our 2012 Olympics target, which can only be achieved if the affiliates put their hearts and minds to it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

King Kang tames Cobra!

Kuala Lumpur, February 15: American Anthony Kang ended an eight-year title drought when he triumphed at the Maybank Malaysian Open with a heroic last-hole birdie on Sunday.

The Asian Tour regular held his nerve on a nail-biting final round at Saujana Golf and Country Club to pick up his third and biggest career victory after a five-under-par 67 gave him a winning total of 17-under-par 271.

He had bogeyed the 15th hole to slip back into a tie of the lead in the US$2 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour but produced a majestic birdie on the par five 18th hole to overcome the challenges of India's Jyoti Randhawa, Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng and Englishmen David Horsey and Miles Tunnicliff by a single shot.

"I actually dreamt last night that I won the tournament but I have those sort of dreams quite often!" said Kang. "It feels great to have beaten a strong field here - it hasn't quite sunk in yet but it is an amazing feeling.

"I've been playing here since 1996 or 1997 and to finally win this event, I'm speechless. Malaysia feels like where I started playing my golf and to win this tournament is great."

Starting the day two off the lead, Kang turned in 33 with some glorious play which included long birdie conversions on the sixth and eighth holes to lead by one stroke.

But the quality of golf that came through meant that no fewer than eight players were in with a chance of winning the title down the back straight.

But Kang showed his mettle after his bogey on 15. Knowing that he needed to birdie the 18th hole to win, he struck two mighty blows to reach the green in two and then safely two-putted for birdie from 45 feet to win the top cheque of US$333,330, and also his first European Tour title.

"That last putt from a foot and a half, I knew it was pretty simple. It's nice to have a putt like that to win," said Kang.

"In the last three rounds, I only made one bogey. After I hit into the water on 15, I told myself let's try to finish this off with a bogey and not to put my head down. Fortunately, I hit a good shot in there to make bogey," said Kang, whose last title was the 2001 Myanmar Open.

Kang's playing partner Prayad was also fighting tooth-and-nail for victory but a costly three-putt bogey on the 16th hole and a poor drive on 18th cost him dearly as he signed off with a 68.

"I just hit a poor putt (on 16) and had a chance for eagle on 17 but didn't make it as well. On 18, I knew I needed to make birdie but hooked my drive and the ball ended in the bunker and all I could do was wedge it out. I didn't have a realistic chance from nearly 30 feet for the birdie putt," said the Thai star.

Randhawa charged up the leaderboard in style but came up one short in the end. He needed to hole a 50-foot eagle chance on the last to get to 17-under-par but came up short in his bid for an eighth career win.

"I had to shoot around eight under to win but I came close. I needed to make birdies coming in but I was happy. Anthony played great, he deserves it," said Randhawa, who closed with a 66.

Horsey set the clubhouse target with a superb 64, which included a homeward 29 but came up one short in the end. "I would have certainly taken that score at the start of the day but then there is a little bit of disappointment not to win having gone so close," said the Englishman.

Tunnicliff felt he had a chance after seeing Kang dump his approach into the water on 15. "I was a little nervous at the start of the day but I felt great coming down the stretch. I birdied three of the last four which was great to do in the circumstances. I saw Anthony hitting it in the water in 15 and I thought that I still had a chance. I just went for it and couldn't have done much more about it," he said.

Malaysia's Danny Chia settled for a share of 11th place, the best finish by a Malaysian since the event was co-sanctioned in 1999, after a 71 while overnight leader Adam Blyth settled for 10th place following a 73.

Leading final round scores

271 - Anthony Kang (USA) 74-66-64-67

272 - David Horsey (ENG) 71-68-69-64, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 71-69-66-66, Miles Tunnicliff (ENG) 71-70-63-68, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 69-70-65-68

273 - Gareth Maybin (NIR) 69-69-69-66

274 - Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 70-71-68-65, Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 65-71-67-71, Alexander Noren (SWE) 63-71-69-71

275 - Adam Blyth (AUS) 66-70-66-73

276 - James Kamte (RSA) 70-72-68-66, Johan Edfors (SWE) 69-71-68-68, Noh Seung-yul (KOR) 62-73-71-70, Danny Chia (MAS) 66-65-74-71

277 - Nick Dougherty (ENG) 66-70-72-69
278 - Raphael Jacquelin (FRA) 74-69-73-62, Klas Eriksson (SWE) 68-75-69-66, Angelo Que (PHI) 73-70-69-66, Ross Mcgowan (ENG) 70-70-71-67, Simon Dyson (ENG) 71-66-73-68


280 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 69-72-69-70

281 - Anthony Kim (USA) 78-65-71-67

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blyth renews love with Open

Kuala Lumpur, February 14: Australian Adam Blyth renewed his love affair with the Maybank Malaysian Open when he snatched a one-shot lead after the third round on Saturday.

The talented Australian, who finished tied 14th in his professional debut at Malaysia's flagship event in 2005, produced a superb six-under-par 66 to lead from Chinese star Liang Wen-chong, who carded a 67 and Sweden's Alexander Noren who returned a 69.

The final round promises to be a thriller with a jam-packed leaderboard at Saujana Golf and Country Club. Thai star Prayad Marksaeng (65), American Anthony Kang (64) and England's Miles Tunnicliff (63) are two shots off the pace while overnight leader Danny Chia of Malaysia was a further stroke behind after a 74 to lie alongside India's Shiv Kapur, who shot a 66.

Blyth has fond memories of Malaysia and on Valentine's Day, he produced a magnificent display to flirt once more with a first career victory at the US$2 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

"It would mean a lot. My first pro event was here and I finished well so it was a good start to my career. It would mean the world if I can win any tournament, but here will be great. But it's a long way away and we don't want to get ahead of ourselves," said the 27-year-old Asian Tour regular, who holds the lead on 14-under-par 202.

With his father Stephen on his bag, Blyth has registered 11 career top-10s in the region over the past four years and knows the door that leads to a career breakthrough must open sooner or later.

"I think what I've been doing this week is staying in my game, staying in my process and staying in my routine. I usually get ahead of myself thinking that I can win. If I can stay in the process and give it my best, we'll see what happens. I can't control what the other guys do," said Blyth, who knocked in an eagle, six birdies against two bogeys.

Liang, Asia's number one in 2007, has the pedigree to deny Blyth. The Chinese enjoyed a terrific finish with two closing birdies to sneak behind the new tournament leader on a sun-baked day.

"I was steady off the tee and my putting was also very good. I will try my best and hope to secure a good result. In golf, anything can happen. But I feel relaxed and calm and will head out with a similar approach in the final day," said Liang, who is chasing a third career win.

Noren holed an audacious 30-foot birdie putt at the last hole which kept him in Sunday's final group. "It was good - it actually felt a lot longer than it was because it was uphill and against the grain. I actually thought to myself 'if I smash it, it might get there' so I gave it everything and it was nice to see it dropping," said the Swede.

Smooth-swinging Thai Prayad enjoyed a grandstand finish with a chip-in eagle and birdie in his last two holes which left him two back. "I had 30 yards to the pin on 17 and hit a wedge that rolled in. It was lucky. On 18, I rolled in a nine footer and it was good to get that closer to the lead," said the Thai.

Currently ranked 59th in the world, Prayad knows that a seventh Asian Tour title could take him into the top-50 and earn him a second trip back to the US Masters in April.

"It would be great if I can do it. I'm really keen to get my way back to the Masters (by being in the top-50 at the end of March) and it would also be good for my confidence as I'll be heading to America for two World Golf Championships events next month," he said.

Chia staggered off the 18th green with a two-over round but he was delighted to still be in the hunt. Last year, he also led after the second day but crashed out with an 80.

"When I first headed out, I told myself to take whatever happens out there. I told myself to play my best and not get too far behind the leaders," said Chia, who is bidding to become the first Malaysian to win the tournament.

"Last year I finished the entire event on the third day. So it's nice that I'm still in with a chance. I will be trying very hard again tomorrow."

Leading third round scores
202 - Adam Blyth (AUS) 66-70-66
203 - Liang Wen-Chong (CHN) 65-71-67, Alexander Noren (SWE) 63-71-69
204 - Miles Tunnicliff (ENG) 71-70-63, Anthony Kang (USA) 74-66-64, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 69-70-65
205 - Shiv Kapur (IND) 70-69-66, Danny Chia (MAS) 66-65-74
206 - Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 71-69-66, Noh Seung-yul (KOR) 62-73-71
207 - Peter Lawrie (IRL) 72-68-67, Gareth Maybin (NIR) 69-69-69, Simon Griffiths (ENG) 70-66-71
208 - Johan Edfors (SWE) 69-71-68, David Horsey (ENG) 71-68-69, Stephen Leaney (AUS) 70-69-69, Scott Barr (AUS) 71-67-70, Phillip Archer (ENG) 69-69-70, Nick Dougherty (ENG) 66-70-72.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Danny soars on Eagles

Kuala Lumpur, February 13: Local hero Danny Chia soared on eagle's wings to race into a three-shot halfway lead at the US$2 million Maybank Malaysian Open on Friday.

The 36-year-old, who is hoping to become the first Malaysian to win the event, conquered the Saujana Golf and Country Club's Palm course by firing two spectacular eagles on his inward nine en route to a seven-under-par 65.

Chia's two-day total of 13-under-par 131 was well clear of Sweden's Alexander Noren who carded a 71 while overnight leader Noh Seung-yul of Korea, who opened with a 62, struggled to a 73 to lie four back in third place.

A topsy-turvy 71 left Chinese star Liang Wen-chong well positioned in a share of fourth place alongside Australian Adam Blyth and English pair Nick Dougherty and Simon Griffiths on 136.

World number 11 Anthony Kim of the United States produced a flawless 65 to make the halfway cut right on the 143 mark, a day after opening with a disastrous 78.

But the limelight truly belonged to Chia. Four other birdies against a lone bogey in the co-sanctioned Asian Tour and European Tour event gave him a sense of déjà vu as he was also the joint second round leader at last year's event.

"I played really good. I am very happy," said Chia, whose lone Tour victory dates back to the 2002 Taiwan Open. "I kept telling myself to be calm out there. My biggest fear is to not get too emotional."

He delighted his army of fans with two sensational strikes. He produced a monster drive at the par four fourth 303-yard hole that landed a foot of the flag and then holed out a wedge from 90 yards at the par five seventh hole on his inward nine.

"The wedge shot was probably my best this year. That was nice," said Chia, who tossed his club into the air after the ball disappeared into the ground. "I used a three wood on four yesterday. But I was pumped up (after turning in 32) and I took a chance with my driver which gave me a lift."

No Malaysian has won the event in its 48-year history and Chia harbours dreams of becoming the first player to do so. With last year's memories still lingering in his mind where he stumbled in the third round, Chia is determined to get the job done this time.

"I am going to be nervous and I would be lying if I told you otherwise. I'll be taking a few deep breaths and walking a bit slower in between shots," he said.

Noren, chasing his first career victory, felt he left a few shots out on the course. "I probably hit the ball better than I did yesterday," said the Swede. "(But) I putted as badly today as I did well yesterday. You can't have 22 putts one day and then 36 the next."

Noh, playing with Noren, also endured a frustrating day on the greens to slip out of the lead. "I didn't putt very well. I missed a few chances but my troubles were mainly due to my poor tee shots. I was hitting it left and right with the driver and three wood and found myself under the trees quite often. You can't find the flags from there," said the 17-year-old, last season's Asian Tour Rookie of the Year.

Liang, the Asian Tour's number one in 2007, is looking to improve on his joint eighth finish at the Malaysian Open achieved four years ago at Saujana after a battling round which included five birdies against four bogeys. "I found it quite hot playing in the afternoon and struggled with my concentration. Anything can happen on this course. We saw a 10-under yesterday. Tomorrow will be an important day," said Liang.

Ryder Cup star Kim fought back brilliantly with a seven-birdie, including one on his final hole, round to survive the cut. "I was pretty embarrassed with how I scored yesterday and not making a birdie. I played some good golf and fortunately on the back nine, some of those putts went in," he said.
A total of 74 players qualified for the weekend rounds after the cut was made at 143. England's Simon Dyson produced the tournament's first hole in one at the fifth hole en route to a 66 for a share of eighth position.

Leading second round scores
131: Danny Chia (Mas) 66-65
134: Alexander Noren (Swe) 63-71
135: Noh Seung-yul (Kor) 62-73
136: Simon Griffiths (Eng) 70-66, Nick Dougherty (Eng) 70-66, Adam Blyth (Aus) 66-70, Liang Wen-chong (PRC) 65-71
137: Simon Dyson (Eng) 71-66, Jean-Francois Lucquin (Fra) 65-72
138: Scott Barr (Aus) 71-67, Phillip Archer (Eng) 69-69, Gareth Maybin (NIR) 69-69
139: Mars Pucay (Phi) 69-70, Prom Meesawat (Tha) 70-69, Shiv Kapur (Ind) 70-69, Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) 69-70, Oliver Fisher (Eng) 69-70, Stephen Leaney (Aus) 70-69, Marcus Fraser (Aus) 72-67

Danny & Airil keep flag flying

Kuala Lumpur, February 12: Malaysia's Danny Chia (pic) and compatriot Airil Rizman kept the local cheers alive in the opening round at the Maybank Malaysian Open on Thursday.
Chia, who is a former winner on the Asian Tour, posted seven birdies against a lone bogey for a six-under-par 66 to lie in a tie for fifth place and was a stroke ahead of compatriot Airil who carded a 67 at the Saujana Golf and Country Club.
Chia, 36, ended the round four strokes behind Korean young gun Noh Seung-yul who fired a blistering 62 for the opening round lead in the Asian Tour and European Tour sanctioned event. Alexander Noren of Sweden was in second place after a 63 while China's Liang Wen-chong was among those in a tie for third place after a 65.
With a new driver in the bag, Chia, who was one under after nine holes, enjoyed a blistering run on the back nine by nailing five birdies.
"I putted well and I was lucky in a few holes. I missed a putt on the fifth hole which cost me a bogey but everything turned around from there and I was putting well again," said the Kuala Lumpur-based golfer, who will be adopting a mixed approach in the second round.
"I can take advantage of the par fives. But for holes like number seven, I can use a driver but the fairway is very narrow. If my ball is not in a good position off the tee, I will be cautious and will choose to lay it up and not go for the green.
"I would like to be aggressive all the time but when it comes to this golf course, I will have to tell myself to be a bit more conservative at some holes," he added.
Airil, who won the 2007 Pakistan Open on the Asian Tour, is relishing his outing at the Maybank Malaysian Open after posting a solid 67 in the US$2.2 million tournament.
"I'm very pleased. I made a lot of putts today which was the difference. I saved a lot of shots too. But my putting has been the key.
"Everything was perfect today. Good weather and the rough is not too long," said Airil.
The other Malaysian golfers in action today include Shaaban Hussin who carded a 71 in joint 41st place, Lim Eng Seng (69th) who was even par for the day and amateur Fung Nicholas who shot a 73 in tied 87th spot.
Ben Leong, who won the Worldwide Selangor Masters last year, was in the mix in 102nd position after a 74 alongside amateur Akhmal Tarmizee while Asian Tour's Iain Steel recorded a 76 to lie in 129th place.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Korean teennager sizzles

Kuala Lumpur, February 12: Korean teenager Noh Seung-yul fired a stunning 10-under-par 62 to snatch the first round lead at the Maybank Malaysian Open on Thursday.

The highly talented 17-year-old, the Asian Tour's rookie of the year last season, hit top form at Saujana Golf and Country Club's Palm course, sinking an eagle and nine birdies to lead by one stroke from playing partner Alexander Noren of Sweden.

Chinese star Liang Wen-chong, the 2007 Asian number one, carded a 65 to lie in tied third place alongside Frenchman Jean-Francois Lucquin, who was runner-up here two years ago.

A fine 66 from Danny Chia saw him carry the Malaysian challenge as he ended the day in a share of fifth place with England's Nick Dougherty and Australian Adam Blyth.

However, world number 11 Anthony Kim of the United States struggled on the greens in his Maybank Malaysian Open debut and signed for a 78 while two-time champion Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand carded a 69 to lie seven strokes off the pace.

Noh has taken Asian golf by storm after winning the Midea China Classic and registering three other runner-up finishes en route to 10th place on the Order of Merit last season.

Although his sizzling 62 was two shots better than the Saujana course mark, it will not be considered an official record as the preferred lie ruling was in operation. But Noh was elated to end the day atop the leaderboard.

"I didn't make any mistake and putted really well. I'm happy but you don't win a tournament on the first day," said Noh. "The course is not playing easy. It's a tough course but I played extremely well. I had a lot of good fortune."

An unlikely birdie on his opening hole at the par four 10th where he holed a 45-footer for birdie got Noh on his way but it was Noren who set the early pace with a blistering outward 30. The young Korean however came in strongly with a 31 to edge past the Swede. "Alexander played well at the start. I wasn't thinking of beating him but I just tried to catch him. He pushed me along," said Noh.

The Korean eagled the par five seventh hole with a superb two iron approach from 250 yards that landed 15 feet from the flag and then rolled in another 12-footer on the demanding eighth hole to seal his lead in the US$2 million event, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

"The eagle on seven was pretty special. But 10 under today, every moment was a highlight. Every shot was a highlight," beamed Noh.

Noren, who is searching for his first win, opened with four straight birdies but was forced to play second-best to Noh. "He was just unbelievable. I seemed to be one ahead of him all day but then he birdied four, eagled seven and birdied eight to get one ahead of me. I had a lot of fun out there," said Noren.

Liang was delighted to stay hot on the leader's heels with his nine-birdie round. It was especially rewarding as the Chinese ace had to pull out of two events in the Middle East last month following a recurrence of an old wrist injury.

"I putted well and struck the ball well. I only missed a couple of shots which is quite important here," said Liang. "The course is not playing as difficult as before as the rough is down and the greens are receptive to good shots," said Liang.

Chia, who held the joint lead at the halfway stage last year, was thrilled to have another chance to contend at the Maybank Malaysian Open. "This is probably the best round I've shot here in Saujana," said Chia, whose card included a superb inward 31.

Wielding a conventional putter since the start of the year, Chia came to grips with Saujana's tricky greens. "I putted well and I was lucky over a few holes. I missed a putt on the fifth which cost me a bogey but everything turned around from there and I was putting well again," said Chia, who is hoping to become the first Malaysian to win the national Open.

Leading first round scores
62: Noh Seung-yul (Kor)
63: Alexander Noren (Swe)
65: Liang Wen-chong (PRC), Jean-Francois Lucquin (Fra)
66: Danny Chia (Mas), Nick Dougherty (Eng), Adam Blyth (Aus)
67: Airil Rizman (Mas), Rhys Davies (Wal), Juvic Pagunsan (Phi)
68: Ross Bain (Sco), Mitchell Brown (Aus), Andrew Coltart (Sco), Klas Eriksson (Swe), Jose Manuel Lara (ESP), Mikael Lundberg (Swe).

69: Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), S.S.P. Chowrasia (Ind), Shingo Katayama (Jpn)
78: Anthony Kim (USA)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thongchai aims to charm Cobra again

Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee (pic) will chase a record-equalling third Maybank Malaysian Open title on his favourite course, the Saujana Golf and Country Club starting on Thursday (12-02-2009).

The two-time Asian Tour number one has won two of the last three Malaysian Opens at Saujana's challenging Palm course, dubbed the Cobra, where his impressive record even caught the attention of the tournament's top draw, world number 11 Anthony Kim of the United States.

Such is Thongchai's confidence that he joked with his caddie that he didn't need a course yardage book ahead of the opening round where he will play alongside Kim and Damien McGrane of Ireland.

"I'm feeling very good. I always like to play at Saujana. I've won twice here and I always like to come back to this golf course," said Thongchai, who is looking to emulate Australian Terry Gale's three victories achieved during the 1980s.

"At the last two Malaysian Opens, I missed the cut as I was sick and injured. But I'm well prepared for this week. I took last week off and I'm ready to go."

Thongchai endured a tough start to last season but ended the year on high by winning back-to-back titles on the Asian Tour to equal compatriot Thaworn Wiratchant's record of holding the most wins in the region with 10 titles.

"I joked with my caddie and told him I didn't need a yardage book. I know every hole on this golf course very well. The only thing that may change are the grains on the greens.

"I'm happy with the way I've started the year. I'm feeling confident. If I don't play well, I'm still capable of shooting under par," said the former paratrooper, who finished tied 13th in the Abu Dhabi Championship last month.

Kim, who featured in the victorious US Ryder Cup team last year, is strongly tipped to contend in his maiden visit to the US$2 million Maybank Malaysian Open, which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

While the talented 23-year-old Kim, a two-time winner on the US PGA Tour last year, has attracted plenty of attention in Saujana, he knew very well of Thongchai's track record at Saujana.

"I don't know if I am the man to beat - I just heard that Thongchai has won this event a few times and there are definitely a lot of guys who have a lot of game and I have to set my game up to play at the that level," said Kim.

Japan's number one Shingo Katayama, nicknamed 'Kat in the Hat' for his penchant for cowboy hats, is another man capable of challenging for Malaysia's 48th national championship.

Coincidently, the 26-time Japan Tour winner's lucky colour is yellow, the same as this week's title sponsor. "I always wear yellow when I win. It's my lucky colour," said the slightly-built Japanese, noting Maybank's colours.

"I would like to play a lot more on the Asian Tour. I would like to win outside of Japan and I like it in Asia. The courses that I've played here are very similar to those in Japan. I love Asia and I would like to visit more Asian countries," added the world number 39.

Local hopes will also rest on Malaysia's Danny Chia, who held the joint halfway lead at last year's Open held at a different venue before he faded at the weekend. No Malaysian has won the tournament in the event's history.

"Just like all the other Malaysian golfers, winning the Malaysian Open is a dream of ours. I still get nervous competing in our national Open. I was among the top players last year (after two rounds) and it came as a surprise more than anything else. But this year, I will keep calm, stay focused and strive to do my best. I feel that I am ready this year," said Chia.

The big-hitting Malaysian has a new Callaway FTIQ driver in his bag but he will be using his trusted three-wood much more to negotiate the palm tree-lined Saujana course in his hope for glory.

"I always thought that my game is not suited for Saujana. That is why I won't be playing my usual game unlike on other courses where I would be smashing it down the fairway. I'll be using a lot of three wood out here," said Chia.

Other top contenders at the Maybank Malaysian Open, the second leg of this season's Asian Tour Schedule, include 2007 champion Peter Hedblom of Sweden, England's Simon Dyson and Nick Dougherty, South African James Kamte, winner of last week's Asian Tour International in Bangkok, Chinese Taipei's Lin Wen-tang, Singapore's Lam Chih Bing and China's number one Liang Wen-chong.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Junior World Cup, last eight, or bust

THE draw looks tough but national Juniors coach K. Rajan remains optimistic that he can guide Malaysia into the quarter-finals of the Junior World Cup (JWC) in June.
The release of the fixtures by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) yesterday added to his confidence as Malaysia will have ample rest between matches.
They will need it as they have South Korea, Spain, England and the United States for company in Group C.
South Korea and Spain are powerhouses at the senior level while England’s juniors finished ninth, one place ahead of Malaysia, in the 2005 edition of the JWC in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
“The fixtures give us ample time to recover, as there are breaks between matches. My target is to be among the top-two in our group, and qualify for the quarter-finals,” said Rajan yesterday.
Malaysia will open their campaign against England at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru on June 7. England beat Malaysia 3-2 in the 9th-10th classification in the 2005 Junior World Cup.
They play South Korea the next day and after a day’s break, it will be the United States.
They wrap up the preliminary round with a tie against Spain.
“We will be playing three friendlies against the national seniors next week, and it will show how far my team have progressed. When we played them earlier (in the form of Ernst & Young who are virtually the national team), we received a hammering.
“But after the Australian stint, and improving their fitness, I am sure they will fare much better.”
The squad will start training at the competition venue in March.
“It will give us a feel of the pitch, and in the middle of March, we will be playing a Four-Nation there.”
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.
(Groups A & C in Johor Baru, Groups B & D in Singapore).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

FIH clears fog surrounding new rule

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) released the revised free hit rules because of the great interest in them. The next Rules of Hockey will take affect from 1 May 2009 and the full set of rules will be published as soon as possible. Please find below the text of the revised free hit rules.
The text of the free hit rules which will apply in international hockey from 1 May 2009 is provided below.
One of the objectives of the FIH and therefore of the Hockey Rules Board (HRB) is to decrease the number and duration of interruptions to the flow of play and to increase the length of time the ball is in active play. A “self-pass” from a free hit has therefore been introduced. It enables the player taking the free hit to play the ball again after taking the free hit which will encourage free-flowing hockey.
As with other actions on the hockey pitch, this must take place safely. Other aspects of the free hit rules have therefore been reviewed. The HRB is concerned that the ball is often played hard, indiscriminately and therefore potentially dangerously into the circle from free hits in the attacking 23 metres area. In future, these free hits must not be played directly into the circle.
FIH believes these are indications of the way it wishes to see hockey develop. Exciting innovations will take place but there will also always be a concern that the game should be as safe as reasonably possible.
These Rules changes above are referred to as Mandatory Experimental Rules. They are mandatory because they must be played throughout hockey; they are experimental to show that they will be reviewed after experience before deciding if they become permanent Rules. When the full set of the Rules of Hockey is published, small changes to some wording and various additional notes will also added to clarify certain current rules. It is anticipated that the full set of Rules will be published in the next month or so.
The text of the relevant free hit Rules will be as follows:

13.1 Location of a free hit:

a a free hit is taken close to where the offence occurred

‘Close to’ means within playing distance of where the offence occurred and with no significant advantage gained.

The location from which a free hit is taken must be more precise inside the 23 metres area.

b a free hit awarded within 5 metres of the circle to the attack is taken at the nearest point 5 metres from the circle

c a free hit awarded outside the circle to the defence within 15 metres of the back-line is taken up to 15 metres from the back-line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to the side-line

d a free hit awarded inside the circle to the defence is taken anywhere inside the circle or up to 15 metres from the back-line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to the side-line.

13.2 Procedures for taking a free hit, centre pass and putting the ball back into play after it has been outside the field:

a the ball must be stationary

b opponents must be at least 5 metres from the ball

If an opponent is within 5 metres of the ball, they must not interfere with the taking of the free hit or must not play or attempt to play the ball. If this player is not playing the ball, attempting to play the ball or influencing play, the free hit need not be delayed.

c when a free hit is awarded to the attack within the 23 metres area, all players other than the player taking the free hit must be at least 5 metres from the ball

d the ball is moved using a push or hit

e the ball must not be raised intentionally directly from the free hit

f if the player taking the free hit is the next player to play the ball, the actions of taking the free hit and of next playing the ball must be two separate actions

g before another player of the team which took the free hit is allowed to play the ball, the ball must move at least 1 metre

The ball does not have to move 1 metre before the player taking the free hit may play the ball again.

h from a free hit awarded to the attack within the 23 metres area, the ball must not be played into the circle until it has travelled at least 5 metres or has been touched by a player of either team other than the player taking the free hit.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Double blow for Sports School

BUKIT Jalil Sports School (BJSS) received a double blow this season as the new format for the local league will rob them of one tournament, and they will only be fielding under- 17 players.
BJSS, the double champions last year, have a collection of ten titles under their belt -- six League and Four Overall. They were the ‘unbeatable’ in the JHL since 2003, as they won 24 out of 25 matches - losing only to Petaling Jaya City Council in the 2006 Overall title hunt.
Last season, BJSS fielded a team in the Junior Hockey League (JHL) and also played in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), but a change in format will see them play in only one tournament this year.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) competitions committee has decided that this year, there will no longer be a JHL and MHL, but a premier Division and Division One for the seniors, and Division Two and Three for the under-19 boys.
And unlike previous years, the Under-19 team or their players cannot take part in the Premier and Division One.
“Last season we were in an ideal situation because BJSS played in the MHL and also the JHL, but it looks like we will have to make do with only one tournament after the format was changes,” lamented BJSS coach S. Prakash.
But Prakash does not mind fielding only under-17 boys, as his older charges are in training for the Junior World Cup on June 7-21.
The MHF have also decided not to release the World Cup trainees for the local leagues.
“We were a much stronger team in the past seasons because we had pre-university boys with us, but this year, we will only be fielding under-71 boys.
“But that is not a problem, because the duty of the school is to provide national material, and we are glad to be able to blood more youngsters,” Prakash.
But with the new format, the quality playing hours of BJSS boys will be drastically reduced.
The under-19 tournament will start on Feb 20, while the Premier Division is slated sometime in October.

Grey areas a worrying factor

THERE are plenty of grey areas in the proposed auto-play rule which the International Hockey Federation (FIH) aim to introduce by May, but still the Malaysian Hockey Federation Umpires Board (MHFUB) will use it for the Under-19 tour nament which starts on Feb 20.
In a gist, the auto-play rule no longer requires a player to pass the ball from a free hit, before he can play it again. The player can now immediately start attacking from a free-hit, making the game much faster.
The Euro Hockey League has already started using it.
“We have yet to receive a draft of the proposed rule change from FIH, and I will be writing to them soon to clear some matters as the Umpires Board feels the players should be given a head start as we will be hosting the Junior World Cup in June,” said MHFUB chairman Amarjit Singh.
The new rule is set to cause more misery to defenders, as players taking a free-hit just outside the opponents semi- circle may be allowed to run with the ball into the semi-circle and take a hit at goal, or manufacture a penalty corner.
“These are some of the grey areas which has yet to be addressed by the FIH, and when we hold a meeting on Feb 15, we hope to have more answers so that we can advise teams taking part in the Under-19 tournament on the correct procedures,” said Amarjit.
Malaysia will co-host the Junior World Cup with Singapore on June 7-21, and it is highly likely that the new rule will be used.
Meanwhile, the International class umpires pool has al most reached its last drop in Malaysia, as Amarjit is the only one eligible to umpire in the Junior World Cup.
“Yes, I am the only one left standing, but I have yet to receive an appointment from the FIH for the Junior World Cup.
“The situation is quite bad, as even though we have a pool of about 200 umpires, but the majority are too old as the youth are staying away.
“The MHFUB held its first meeting recently, and we will come out with a guidebook for umpires this month, and with the help of the Education Ministry, we hope to have a pool of young teachers soon.”
Amarjit is also of the opinion that club and national coaches should also undergo umpires courses, as it will make them more tolerant when sitting on the bench.
“I will speak to coaching committee chairman Dr Balbir Singh on how we can work together to have some umpiring courses for the coaches, and hopefully, there will not be many disputes once they come to terms with certain rules,” said Amarjit.