Thursday, April 30, 2009

FIH looking for making hockey even more attractive

By Leandro Negre, FIH President

It is just a little more than five months since I have been elected as President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH). During these five months a lot happened in hockey and the FIH. Together with the new Executive Board, we are looking into all methods of making hockey even more attractive, at international, continental, national, regional and local level. It is too early now to give details about all the plans, as before implementing them, I will discuss them in debt with the Executive Board and the respective Committees. But you can be sure that the new strategic directions will have excellent implications for hockey.

Like all other four continental federations, the Asian Hockey Federation plays a key role in the development of our sport. It is a pleasure for me to work with the Asian countries, especially with the FIH World Level Events

The FIH is satisfied with the progress of the FIH World Cup in New Delhi, India in March 2010. Like for all FIH World Level Events, the Executive Board and the professional staff in the office in Lausanne, Switzerland are monitoring the progress on a daily basis. If, for one reason or the other, the FIH cannot host the 2010 FIH World Cup in India, there is of course a Plan B which will be implemented.

This is nothing special, as this is the case for all our events. Everybody can remember the extremely difficult decision the FIH had to take to shift the 2007 Samsung Champions Trophy from Pakistan to Malaysia. The FIH certainly hopes that it would never have to make these difficult decisions again.

The FIH is always looking for improvement. But before changing a rule, the way of qualifying for the World Cup or the structure of our World Level Events, different important steps have to be made. There are 13 FIH Committees in which experts are discussing the different aspects of the FIH and hockey in general. These committees provide the Executive Board with proposals and give expert advice to the Executive Board in their respective area.

The Competitions Committee is for example responsible for all technical related items of FIH World Level Events, while the Bid Evaluation Committee deals with the allocation of the FIH tournaments. The Umpiring Committee is the responsible body for all umpiring matters.

It is a pleasure for me to be back in Malaysia soon and I am already looking forward to the FIH Junior World Cup in June when the Malaysian Hockey Confederation is hosting together with Singapore Hockey Federation the matches between the 20 best junior teams in the world.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sports schools clash in final

RESULTS -- Semi-finals, second leg:
Bukit Jalil Sports School 3 Petaling Jaya City Council 2.
(BJSS win on 5-3 aggregate)
Bandar Penawar Sports School 3 Tenaga Nasional 2
(BPSS win on 7-3 aggregate)

SPORTS schools Bukit Jalil (BJSS) and Bandar Penawar (BPSS) will battle for the Malaysia Hockey League Overall title on Wednesday after they beat their opponents in con trasting styles.
BJSS edged Petaling Jaya City Council (PJCC) 3-2 for a 5-3 aggregate win, while BPSS beat Tenaga Nasional 3-2 for a comfortable 7-3 aggregate win.
Yesterday, BJSS were left off the hook when PJCC failed to score even when they were ‘given’ ample opportunities in the second half.
BJSS took a 3-0 lead off Fahmi Faiz (eighth), Dangerous Lee (12th) and Izad Hakimi (19th), before PJCC came back into the match with goals from Faiz Sukri ( 24th) and Aidil Hakimi (44th), but failed to convert the numerous chances that came their way after that.
At the Bandar Penawar pitch, Tenaga Nasional took a 2-0 lead off Faiz Adnan (10th) and Sabri Mohamed (17th), but BPSS came back convincingly in the second half.
Firhan Ashaari (46th), Fitri Saari (48th) and Noor Faeez Ibrahim scored for BPSS.
“We scored three early goals and after that, a freak accident allowed PJCC to crawl back into the match. My goalkeeper’s hockey stick got stuck in the net during the penalty corner and PJCC scored.
“My boys lost their composure after that, but still held on to win. They have fitness and skills, but it looks like I will have to work on the mental aspect.
“These boys are all under-17, and would become an asset once they know how to keep their composure,” said BJSS coach S. Prakash.
PJCC coach Paul Raj was happy with his team’s com mitment: “We gave them a tough fight, and only bowedout because of poor penalty corner defending.
“Last season, we were knocked out of the quarters, and this year we advanced further and I see this as progress,” said Paul.
FIXTURES -- Wednesday: Final: Bukit Jalil Sports School v Bandar Penawar Sports School (National Stadium, 5pm).

Wake-up call for Bukit Jalil

BUKIT Jalil Sports School received a timely wake-up call, and will be out make amends in the second leg semi-finals of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) today.
BJSS struggled to beat Petaling Jaya City Council 2-1 in the first leg, but it would be foolish to bet against them in the return leg.
In the other semi-finals, Bandar Penawar Sports School (BPSS) will be hard to upset, after they beat Tenaga Nasional 4-1.
“The first half is over, and now we have to play much better in the second half to increase our one-goal cushion. I believe the boys will not disappoint,” said BJSS coach S. Prakash.
Prakash attributes the slim lead to effective man-to-man marking, and cramming the defense.
“My forwards found it hard to break free as PJCC’s marking was good, and even if they managed to penetrate the 25-yard, PJCC defended well in numbers,” said Prakash.
PJSS coach Paul Raj believes his players are ready to cause an upset.
“My play-maker Harmesh (Singh) did not play in the first leg as he injured his knee in a pervious match. But he will be back for the return leg, and I am confident we will knock-out BJSS,” said Raj.
And while Harmesh makes a return, BJSS’ penalty corner flicker Hairulnizam Maizan is a doubtful starter.
“Hairul received six stitches on his eyebrow on Friday, and is a doubtful starter. He scored eight goals, and will surely be missed if he can’t recover in time,” said Prakash.
As for BPSS, they have yet to drop a single point at their home ground in Bandar Penawar, and coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman said Tenaga Nasional jokingly asked him if the return leg could be held at the KLHA Stadium.
“When I shook hands with Nor Azlan Bakar (Tenaga coach) after the match, he jokingly asked me if we could play the return leg in KL because it is difficult to beat us in Bandar Penawar.
“Jokes aside, we will be fielding our best side, and make sure that we take a step closer to our target of lifting the Overall title,” said Wan Roslan.
TODAY -- Semi-finals, second leg: Bandar Penawar Sports School v Tenaga Nasional (Bandar Penawar, 5pm); Petaling Jaya City Council v Bukit Jalil Sports School (National Stadium, 5pm).

Bandar Penawar stamp their class

BANDAR Penawar Sports School (BPSS) stamped their class when they beat Tenaga Nasional 4-1 in the first leg semi-finals of the Malaysia Hockey League at the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium yesterday.
And at the National Hockey Stadium, Bukit Jalil Sports School edged Petaling Jaya City Council 2-1, and the return leg is expected to be a cracker.
Ahmad Kafeel gave PJCC a ninth minute lead, but BJSS equalised off Faridzul Afiq two minutes later.
The match was heading for a draw, but a 62nd minute penalty corner attempt by Izat Hakimi gave the League champions a slim cushion.
BPSS were meticulous when chances came their way, while Tenaga muffed many sitters and will find the going uphill in the return leg.
The Bandar Penawar hero was Nor Faeez Ibrahim, who converted all three penalty corners that came their way in the 19th, 43rd and 46th minutes. Hafiz Nawi made it 4-0, before Aminuddin Abu slammed home Tenaga’s only goal in the 70th minute.
“We had a good run today (yesterday), and will be looking to increase our lead in the return leg. Even though we have a three-goal cushion, Tenaga cannot be taken lightly,” said BPSS coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman.
And BPSS will use the return leg, to charge-up for the final.
“We have not lost, or even drawn a match at our own backyard this season, and will be playing to keep the record. It will be a good tune-up for the final,” said Wan Roslan.
Tenaga Nasional coach Nor Azlan Bakar rued the missed chances.
“We had more chances than Bandar Penawar, but my forwards bungled while the opponents did not miss. They only had three penalty corners and converted all, and after that, it became increasingly difficult for us to catch up.
“In the return leg, we will be looking to keep the score respectable,” said Nor Azlan.
RESULTS -- Semi-finals, first leg: Tenaga Nasional 1 Bandar Penawar Sports School 4; Bukit Jalil Sports School 2 Petaling Jaya City Council 1.
SUNDAY -- Semi-finals, second leg: Bandar Penawar Sports School v Tenaga Nasional (Bandar Penawar, 5pm); Petaling Jaya City Council v Bukit Jalil Sports School (Na tional Stadium, 5pm).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hockey takes her across the globe

Malinda Hapuarachchi has been to many places to play field hockey but isn’t sure where her next stop will be as she awaits word on whether she’ll receive carding money this season. Photo by Blair A.J. Shier

Dan Plouffe by Dan Plouffe

It might not be the number one sport in her hometown, but that hasn’t kept OrlĂ©ans’ Malinda Hapuarachchi from finding many places in other parts of the world where field hockey is a big-time show.
One such highlight was competing for Canada at the 2007 indoor World Cup in Austria. The 25-year-old also plays with the outdoor national team – all of which was achieved from very humble beginnings.
“I really didn’t want to play basketball because I was terrible at it and wasn’t too keen on only doing cross-country running in the fall, so I started playing field hockey,” explains the Cairine Wilson Secondary School grad. “I just decided to try this random sport and it ended up being a big part of my life.”
Hapuarachchi went on to play for five years at the University of Toronto and racked up award after award, including multiple Ontario Most Valuable Player honours. The next stop on the defender’s path was a four-month stop in Holland to play for a club in the southern town of Breda.
“Field hockey in the Netherlands is like ice hockey here,” Hapuarachchi says of the country that is a frequent world champion. “It was very much engrained in their culture.”
Hapuarachchi’s club alone had six astro-turf pitches and 2,000 members. From young children to seniors in their seventies, they would play games all day on Saturdays, and then watch field hockey on TV after their match.
Hapuarachchi didn’t play in the Dutch premier league, but was still set up with a billet family from the club, and coached several youth teams to earn money while there.
She was able to communicate with her players no problem since they learned English in school from a young age, but the language barrier made Hapuarachchi homesick occasionally.
“At times I was ready to come home, but I knew this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she says. “The level of hockey in Holland – you can’t even compare it to Canada.”
Hapuarachchi is now working on her master’s degree in biomechanics at Kingston’s Queen’s University and travels almost every weekend to Toronto to train with other Ontario-based players who are part of the national team’s high-performance program.
But where Hapuarachchi will go next is kind of up in the air at the moment. Last year, she had a “development card” (half the money full-time amateur athletes receive from the government) but is waiting to hear if she’ll be chosen for carding this year.
“I’m kind of in limbo right now,” says Hapuarachchi, who attended a recent national team training camp in Vancouver and then achieved the benchmarks necessary during fitness testing on Easter weekend in Toronto. “It’s really hard to say because I don’t know what the coach is thinking.”
If Hapuarachchi is picked for carding, she’d likely go to B.C. for close to two months this summer – where most national team players are based. She’s also considered moving there full-time since it’s possible to train outdoors almost all year-round, unlike Ontario.
One benefit of added time inside is that Hapuarachchi has become one of the top Canadian players indoors – she was named MVP of March’s indoor nationals in Calgary.
However, the game played in gymnasiums doesn’t have as high a profile as the outdoor version, so it’s possible Hapuarachchi may only study part-time – even though she’d probably like to get her doctorate in the future – so that she can focus more of her efforts on reaching the international level.
“I’m turning 26 this summer, so I don’t have a ton of years left at the high-performance level,” Hapuarachchi says. “I’ll continue with the national team program as far as it takes me – whether it’s for two or three years, I’ll do it for as long as I can and as long as they want me.”

Malaysia out to prove rankings wrong

IF world rankings tell the truth, then Malaysia can forget about even making the semi-finals of the Asia Cup in Kuantan on May 9-16.

But fortunately for Malaysia, rankings don't matter when there is a desire to win, as Egypt proved when they held New Zealand and India in the Azlan Shah Cup. Malaysia were also impressive in Ipoh, as they only lost to India, albeit twice.
Malaysia, ranked 15th in the world, have been grouped with World No 5 South Korea, No 11 Japan and No 41 Sri Lanka.
Group B has Pakistan (No 8), India (No 10), China (No 16) and Bangladesh (No 34).
"Sri Lanka and Japan are the two teams we need to beat for a spot in the semi-finals. However, that does not mean we will give South Korea an easy time in our opening encounter," said MHF deputy president Nur Azmi Ahmad.
South Korea are the only Asian team in the Champions Trophy and in December, they will play against Australia, England, Spain, Germany and Netherlands.
"Although the Koreans are in a league of their own, we learnt much about them during our recent tour where we played against their club sides who house a majority of their internationals.
"The feedback was positive, and the opening encounter between Malaysia and South Korea should not be missed by fans in Kuantan," said Azmi.
Malaysia have invited 28-year-old Jiwa Mohan who has 243 caps, to re-join national training.
"Jiwa has been actively playing in the Australian League after he left the national team to concentrate on his work Down Under.
"He has never had any problems with fitness before and should have no problems fitting back into the team. But his appearance depends on his leave application. If all is OK, then he will play in a friendly against Pakistan on May 3, and I am sure he will be able to perform," said Nur Azmi.

PJCC set high target

PETALING Jaya City Council (PJCC) have set themselves the lofty target of knocking out Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) in the semi-finals of the Malaysia Hockey League.

PJCC coach Paul Raj will bank on his three speedy forwards to take a winning cushion into the return leg when they meet in the first leg today.
BJSS, who have seven League and four Overall titles, have been routing their opponents. They thrashed PJCC 5-1 in the league.
"The league encounter ended inside 10 minutes as we were not prepared for their swift counters, but the boys have learnt their lesson and will be gunning for a win tomorrow (today)," said Paul.
The coach will be banking on 16-year-olds Manraj Singh (five goals), Ahmad Kafeel (seven goals) and Harmesh Singh (six goals) to do the damage against BJSS.
"My three forwards are all 16, but have shown good understanding, especially in the later stages of the League and the quarter-finals.
"I will be banking on the trio, as well as my penalty corner flickers Jasdev Singh and Faiz Zuki," said Paul.
The other semi-final is between Bandar Penawar Sports School and Tenaga Nasional, and the odds favour a more mature BPSS who finished second in Division Two.
Tenaga have been erratic this year, and if they do not take a good cushion in the first leg at their own turf, it will be difficult to subdue BPSS at their den in Bandar Penawar.
TODAY (S-Final 1st legs): Tenaga Nasional v Bandar Penawar Sports School (KLHA Stadium, 5pm); Bukit Jalil Sports School v Petaling Jaya CC (National Hockey Stadium, 7.30pm).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sohail fit and ready

By Khalid Hussain

KARACHI: Drag flick ace Sohail Abbas and seasoned striker Rehan Butt have been passed as fit by their coach Shahid Ali Khan as Pakistan stepped up their preparations for next month's Asia Cup in Kuantan, Malaysia.
Shahid told 'The News' on Wednesday that both Sohail and Rehan - who have reported for duty at the national training camp that got underway in Lahore earlier this week - look in good shape and hoped that the return of these senior players and a couple more would improve Pakistan's chances in the eight-nation event.
"Sohail looks fine," said Shahid who is at the helm of the Asia Cup preparatory camp that will continue till Pakistan's departure for Malaysia on May 2. Pakistan are eyeing a shot at the title in the May 9-15 tournament that will serve as a qualifying event for next year's World Cup in India. "He looks physically fit. We had a few penalty corner drills today and it's quite evident that the power is very much there," he added.
Pakistan are pinning their hopes in Sohail's goal-scoring prowess off short corners. The Karachi-based Sohail is regarded among the best drag flick experts in world hockey and holds the record for the highest number of goals in international hockey.
Shunned by Pakistan since the 2006 World Cup in Germany for skipping a national training camp, Sohail has mostly played club hockey in Europe in recent years.
Skeptics have raised questions over the logic of recalling him after such a long gap and have instead called for the inclusion of fresh blood in the national side.
They also question the wisdom behind inducting those players in the national team for the Asia Cup who have just played club hockey in recent times.
Shahid, however, disagrees with them and is of the view that players like Sohail and Rehan should bolster Pakistan's hopes in the Asia Cup.
The Pakistan coach said that players like Sohail and Rehan have kept themselves fit by playing for their clubs in Holland. "They both seem to be match fit and are hungry to be back in international hockey," he said.
Rehan, a former Pakistan skipper, has joined the camp while two more senior players - Waseem Ahmed and Salman Akber - are set to report for national duty soon.
"Waseem should join the camp soon while Salman will report on the 28th," said Shahid.
The quartet of senior players will appear in the Asia Cup trials to be held at the National Hockey Stadium in Lahore on April 29.
Pakistan are hoping to name an 18-man squad capable of winning the Asia Cup. The former Asia Cup champions are placed in Pool B of the tournament with old rivals India, China and minnows Bangladesh.
The News International

Malacca fail to stop Tenaga

Tenaga Nasional’s Muhamad Sabri Mohamed (left) tries to stop Malacca’s Muhammad Rashdan Saiful in their quarter-final match at KLHA Stadium yesterday. The teams drew 2-2. — Pic: KHALID REDZA

TENAGA Nasional were let off the hook by Malacca as both sides drew their Malaysian Hockey League quarter-final second leg 2-2 at the KLHA Stadium yesterday.

The draw meant Tenaga secured a semi-final spot 5-4 on aggregate.
Malacca should have won the match in the first half as they were awarded four penalty corners. However, all attempts were fruitless.
Tenaga took the lead in the 56th minute through Faiz Adnan off a penalty corner flick before Malacca leveled the score four minutes later through a Syakir Kamaruddin field attempt.
Amir Aminuddin Abu restored Tenaga's lead in the 63rd minute and it seemed then that victory was theirs.
However, Malacca leveled the score once again through Iderus Ali three minutes from time.
Tenaga will face Bandar Penawar Sports School (BPSS), who defeated Nur Insafi 9-3 on aggregate.
Tenaga coach Nor Azlan Bakar was not amused with the way his charges' played yesterday.
"I am very unhappy with the boys. They don't know how to defend a lead and the defence is extremely weak. I need to prepare them thoroughly for the semi-finals," said Nor Azlan.
Nor Azlan also played down his team's chances in the semi-finals.
"My players need to improve or face a thrashing. BPSS are the favourites."
In Ipoh, Petaling Jaya City Council (PJCC) easily defeated Anderson 3-0 to win 6-0 on aggregate for a spot in the semi-finals.
Their opponents are Division Two champions Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS), who thrashed Temerloh 17-0 on aggregate.
PJCC coach Paul Raj said he will work on new strategies to prepare his players for BJSS.
"BJSS are good but not invincible. They can be beaten provided my boys have a solid game plan," said Paul in Ipoh yesterday.
RESULTS -- Q-final 2nd leg: Temerloh 0 Bukit Jalil Sports School 8 (BJSS win 17-0 on aggregate); Bandar Penawar Sports School 5 Nur Insafi 1 (BPSS win 9-3 on aggregate); Tenaga Nasional 2 Malacca 2 (Tenaga win 5-4 on aggregate); Anderson 0 Petaling Jaya CC 3 (PJ SS win 6-0 on aggregate).
FIXTURES (S-Finals-1st leg)) -- Tomorrow: Tenaga Nasional v Bandar Penawar Sports School (KLHA Stadium, Pantai, 5pm); Bukit Jalil Sports School v Petaling Jaya CC (National Hockey Stadium, Bukit Jalil, 7.30pm).

Korea test for Malaysia

MALAYSIA face a tough opener against South Korea in the Asia Cup and the May 9 match may prove crucial in their hope of qualifying for the semi-finals in Kuantan.

A good result, however, will ease some pressure for the team before they face minnows Sri Lanka (May 11) and Japan (May 12) in their remaining Group A matches.
National coach Tai Beng Hai saidopening matches are always difficult and Korea will also face similar problems.
"It does not matter who we meet in the opening match as eventually we have to play all the best teams to achieve our target," said Beng Hai yesterday.
"My players, after the recent success in the Azlan Shah Cup, are raring for action. It is good that the players are high on confidence."
The champions of the Asia Cup will qualify for next year's World Cup while the second to fifth-placed teams will compete in the Qualifiers in November.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) has set a top-four target for the team.
Beng Hai and his players will move to their training base at the Kuantan Hockey Stadium on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian players were awarded RM2,000 each for their effort in the recent Azlan Shah Cup. Malaysia were beaten 3-1 by India in the final.
Group A: South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka; Group B: Pakistan, India, China, Bangladesh.
Fixtures -- May 9: Japan v Sri Lanka, India v Bangladesh, South Korea v Malaysia, Pakistan v China; May 10: China v Bangladesh, India v Pakistan; May 11: Malaysia v Sri Lanka, Japan v South Korea; May 12: Pakistan v Bangladesh, China v India, South Korea v Sri Lanka, Malaysia v Japan; May 14: Semi-finals; May 15: Classification; May 16: 3/4th placing and final.

Friday, April 17, 2009

BJSS in for another title

LEAGUE champions Bukit Jalil Sports School will meet Division Three runners-up Temerloh of Pahang in the Quar ter-finals this Sunday.
And BJSS are expected to cruise into the semis, and go for their 12th title in the junior tournament.
BJSS already have seven League and four overall titles in the bag.

QUARTER-FINALS (First Leg): Sunday: Bukit Jalil Sports School v Temerloh (Bukit Jalil, 5pm); Nur Insafi v Bandar Penawar Sports School (Manjung Pitch, 5pm); Malacca v Tenaga Nasional (Malacca, 5pm); Petaling Jaya CC v An derson (Bukit Jalil Pitch II, 5pm).
RETURN LEG: April 22 -- Temerloh v Bukit Jalil Sports School (Kuantan Stadium, 5pm); Bandar Penawar Sports School v Nur Insafi (Bandar Penawar, 5pm); Tenaga Nasional v Malacca (KLHA Stadium, 5pm); Anderson v Petaling Jaya CC (Azlan Shah Stadium, 5pm).
RESULTS: Division Two: Petaling Jaya CC 2 BJSS Juniors 0, Olak 3 Setapak High 1, Tenaga Nasional 3 BPSS Juniors 1, Bandar Penawar Sports School 5 Anderson 1, Batu Pahat 0 Malacca 3.
Division Three: English College 2 Datuk Taha 2.



P W D L F A Pts
BJSS 11 10 0 1 36 9 30
BPSS 11 9 2 0 43 13 29
TENAGA 11 7 1 3 32 17 22
ANDERSON 11 6 1 4 23 18 19
PJ CC 11 5 3 3 19 19 18
MALACCA 11 5 1 5 26 20 16
SETAPAK HIGH 11 3 4 4 19 19 13
OLAK 11 3 3 5 19 27 12
BATU PAHAT 11 2 3 6 19 26 9
BJSS JRS 11 2 2 7 11 32 8
KIJANG MAS 11 2 2 7 13 25 8
BPSS JRS 11 1 0 10 13 36 3


P W D L F A Pts
NUR INSAFI 9 8 0 1 41 9 24
TEMERLOH 9 6 2 1 23 16 20
PERLIS 9 6 1 2 28 16 19
TBSS-TAMPIN 9 5 2 2 18 14 17
MATRI 9 4 1 4 19 18 13
PENANG 9 2 5 2 17 19 11
MSAB 9 2 3 4 11 15 9
DATUK TAHA 9 1 3 5 22 26 6
SELANGOR 9 1 2 6 8 20 5
K.SELANGOR 9 0 1 8 11 44 1

Malaysia lose one draw two

FIH --Young future stars had an important meeting this week in Seville (Spain) in U21, U18 and U16 categories. Six days of great hockey under the sun of Andalucia region, on the south of the country, which saw hosts of Spain reaching the first position on U21 and U16, and England claiming the victory in U18.

This tournament meant a great test for Singapore and Malaysia World Cup (7-21 June) in U21, and Spain, Germany, England and Malaysia were willing to show their power and learn about other’s. Spain opened the tournament with a victory over Malaysia (2-1) in the last PC of the game and next day was stuck by a powerful Germany (1-5) that seemed to be the likely winner of the tournament after Malaysia and England draw (3-3). Nevertheless German’s missed the chance of winning the tournament against Malaysia (2-2) and spoiled the victory with a defeat against England (3-6). Spain found a surprising first place as they had defeated England the day before (5-3)

U18 competition was the most important test for England, Spain, Germany and Netherlands to prepare the European Cup in Nivelles (Belgium) on July 7-12. England was the first to secure a place on the final after beating Germany (2-1) and Spain (3-2), while Spain grabbed the last seat beating Germany (3-1). Netherlands had lost their chances losing against Spain (2-4) and Germany (1-2) and could at least claim a victory against already classified England on day before the final (4-1).

Germany got the third position repeating the score against Dutch (2-1) and England won the final in a very defensive game against Spain decided with a golden goal (2-1).

U16 tournament was probably the most spectacular of all of them. Spain, England, Germany and Netherlands played the most important international tournament of the year as there is not European Cup in 2009 and cheered the crowds with many goals and open games. Spain got a convincing victory over Netherlands on the first game (5-1) but failed against England (3-4) before getting the classification with a draw against Germany (4-4) in a crazy game that Germany was able to overcome from 3-0 to 3-4 but Spain could draw with 4 minutes to the end. England draw against Germany (4-4), beat Spain and defeated Netherlands (3-1) on the last game to get the final. Dutch win their game against Germany (3-2) and lost the bronze medal in the PS after drawing against Germans (1-1), while Spain got the victory of the tournament winning England on the final (3-2)

U21 Results:
Spain 2-1 Malaysia
Spain 1-5 Germany
England 3-3 Malaysia
England 3-5 Spain
Germany 2-2 Malaysia
Germany 3-6 England

Final Positions

1. Spain 6 points
2. England 4 points
3. Germany 4 points
4. Malaysia 2 points

Discontent brewing in Selangor HA

THE Selangor HA (SHA) will hold its Biennial General Meeting tomorrow with affiliates looking for a change in management to boost hockey in the state.
Council member Joseph de Silva, who claims he is representing several affiliates afraid to publicly voice their intentions, wants SHA president Datuk Salamon Selamat to step down honourably.
The elections are by way of on-the-spot nominations.
"I am sad to say that the SHA has not done any development or organised a league for the past four years, and the president is holding on to power for no purpose," alleged de Silva.
"I represent many affiliates who feel it is time Salamon steps down and make way for someone who has the time for hockey."
When contacted, Salamon said: "Yes, I will be seeking re-election. I do not want to comment in the press on why we did not have any league, or answer any other questions. I will answer the affiliates if they ask me during the BGM."
Salamon has been at the helm since 2002.
De Silva, who was banned three years by the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) and returned early this year to once again take charge of Old La Sallians Association of Klang in the Malaysia Hockey League, is not afraid of facing the consequences of his outburst.
"I am not afraid because I am speaking the truth. Hockey in Selangor is dead, and the 10 affiliates are now relying on the Kuala Lumpur HA for matches. Many Klang-based teams are now playing in the KLHA League and this is embarrassing.
"I urge the president, and all those who know they have no time for hockey, to make way for new blood," said De Silva.
The Selangor HA deputy president is Abu Bakar Zin, vice-presidents Zulkepli Ahmad, Dr Kerpal Singh, Mohammad Mahud Osman and Taram Singh.
Zainal Abidin Ismail is secretary while the treasurer is N. Ganswaran with the 10 clubs as its affiliates.
Selangor, once a hockey powerhouse, also had to resort to drafting two Malacca and one Sarawak player for their National Under-16 campaign due to lack of talent.

Asian Hockey Federation website

THE Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) released its new website: on the occasion of the Azlan Shah tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia.
It was launched at a special function presided over by the President of the Asian Hockey Federation, Sultan Azlan Shah.
Also present on the occasion were the President of FIH, Leandro Negre, President of the African Federation, Saif Ahmed, and the MHF President, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah. The website has several important features including facilities for uploading videos, photos and for blogging.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fitness needs more attention

By Ajitpal Singh

FITNESS will be the priority when preparing the national players for the Asia Cup in Kuantan on May 9-16.
Malaysian Hockey Federation president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah believes the national players need to improve on their fitness in order to make impression in the Asia Cup.
"I'm very happy with the team's performance at the recent Azlan Shah Cup and I feel they have the ability to do well in the Asia Cup. The deciding factor will be fitness and I want them to put extra effort in training," said Tengku Abdullah yesterday.
Malaysia turned in a superb performance in the Azlan Shah Cup, only to lose 3-1 to India in Sunday's final in Ipoh.
"I want the players to be fully focused and physically and mentally fit for the Asia Cup. I will meet them soon," he added. The Asia Cup champions will earn an automatic ticket to next year's World Cup in India. The other top three finishers will compete in the qualifiers in November.
Tengku Abdullah is also pleased with national caretaker coach Tai Beng Hai's effort in preparing the players for tournaments.
"Beng Hai will be considered for the full-time job as national coach if the team do well in the Asia Cup. My personal target is to see them finish in the top-four bracket.
"But if the players show determination and grit then winning the Asia Cup will not be an impossible thing to achieve. The team's morale is high after the Azlan Cup and they should build on it for the tournament."

Monday, April 13, 2009

FIH commited to help Asia

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has taken offense to our house style of 'ghost writing' where we interview personalities every Sunday and credit the byline to them.
The article never misquoted Leandro Negre in any paragraph. The interview was done during the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh and the same facts appeared in the and in the Hindu by A. Thiagarajan.

By Jugjet Singh as told to him by
Leandro Negre
(Leandro Negre is the president of the International Hockey Federation)

THE International Hockey Federation (FIH) is well aware that Asia, once a powerhouse in hockey, is fast slipping behind Europe and other continents, and it needs urgent help.

Asia is a valuable partner of the sport, as it is widely played in India, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, China and other countries.
That is why, more emphasis will be placed on this continent, and if giving hockey sticks and balls can start the sport in smaller playing nations, so be it.
The FIH will start with helping India prepare a strong team for the 2010 New Delhi World Cup. It will serve no purpose if India are only good hosts, but do not even qualify for the semi-finals.
I, personally, would be the happiest person if at the end of the World Cup, I end up presenting the trophy to India. It will be a big boost to Asian hockey if that happens.
I was in India before coming to Malaysia, and after a discussion with the Indian Olympic Association (which is running hockey on an ad-hoc basis in India), we came to an agreement that for six months, the Indian team will be based in England, and their players turn out for various clubs in the local league.
And during breaks, the India players will re-group and play against top clubs, from England, Spain, Netherlands or Germany.
There is a tremendous fan-base in England for the India team, and I believe the players will benefit from this exercise when they play in the World Cup.
Our partners in global hockey must be allowed to run their own houses. So, in future there will not be meddling from the FIH as continental federations know best on how to handle their programmes.
Money will also be channeled straight into the continental federations, and they will decide how to utilise it.
Another change which is being looked into is the qualifying system, which has placed many countries in a dilemma, and is too costly, and also takes up the greater part of FIH's time.
Having qualifiers all around the world and only promoting the gold medallists not only deprives some teams, but is also a waste of time and efforts which could be channeled into better work.
It was tragic when in the Beijing Olympic Qualifiers, teams were placed with Germany in Japan, with Argentina in Auckland and India in Chile.
Many teams gave up right after they knew that it was next to impossible to qualify.
I envision that soon, we will revert to the one-qualifier where 12 teams compete in two groups, and six are selected for the main event.
This way, even the placing matches will be keenly fought, and the tournament does not become a side-show once the chance to play in the final is out of sight.
Hockey is also feeling the pinch of the global economic slowdown, and having too many qualifiers for the women and the men is no longer realistic.
Lastly, my visit to India reaffirmed that they are capable hosts, with only one pressing matter which they must sort out.
India must have a democratic election to replace the ad-hoc committee, if not, we have Malaysia on standby as Plan B.
It is our responsibility to have a backup plan in case we are left with no option.

Third silver for Malaysia

The victorious India team with the Azlan Shah Cup after beating Malaysia 3-1 in the final yesterday. — Pic: MUHAIZAN YAHYA

MALAYSIA were resigned to their third silver medal in the Azlan Shah Cup when India beat them 3-1 in Ipoh yesterday.

A freak goal, and a disputed decision, was the order of the day as the hosts added another silver to the ones the won in 1985 and 2007.
The Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh was filled to the brim with a crowd of at least 12,000 who braved the rain to watch Malaysia give their best but India were in no mood to do them any favours.
Malaysia played as a team with a vision to convert their two silver into gold, but were dealt an early blow when India scored a freak goal in the eighth minute.
Arjun Halappa ran along the sideline of the Malaysian goal and made a pass to the centre. The ball met Malaysian defender Baljit Singh Charun's stick and was deflected into goal.
But with solid crowd support, Malaysia started to look more dangerous and their attacks were also well co-ordinated.
And it was no surprise that the equaliser came in the 11th minute from a goalmouth melee with Azlan Misron giving the hosts a life-line.
India were reduced to a defensive side, and only made occasional attacks after Malaysia had equalised, but nonetheless regained the lead.
This time, Prabhjot Singh took advantage of a 20th minute confusion in the Malaysian circle to push the ball in.
The score remained 2-1 in India's favour until the breather, but with a promise of more action after the break.
And the pace in the second half never slowed down with both sides looking to kill the game early. Malaysia came the closest in the 39th minute when Azlan had a one-on-one with India goalkeeper Baljit Singh, but failed.
India increased their lead to 3-1 in the 41st minute when the umpire Deon Nel of South Africa blew for a penalty corner and the Malaysian players stopped playing, but Shivendra Singh took a reverse stick shot and the umpire reversed his decision and blew for goal leaving the hosts stunned.
That goal killed the game's passion and, not surprisingly, Malaysia found the India goal sealed shut for the remainder of the match.
In the match for third placing, New Zealand beat Pakistan 2-1.
The Kiwis took a 2-0 lead through skipper Blair Hopping (12th) and Joel Baker (13th) but Pakistan pulled one back in the 35th minute off Shakeel Abbasi.

RESULTS -- Final: India 3 Malaysia 1; Third-Fourth: New Zealand 2 Pakistan 1.
ROLL-OF-HONOUR: 1 India, 2 Malaysia, 3 New Zealand, 4 Pakistan, 5 Egypt.
Man-of-the-Match: Arjun Halappa (India)
Top Scorer: Sandip Singh (India, 7 goals)
Best Goalkeeper: S. Kumar (Malaysia)
Player of the Tournament: Sandip Singh (India)
Fairplay: New Zealand.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Malaysia in the final!

MALAYSIA earned some much needed respect from their fans when they held World No 7 New Zealand to a 1-1 draw yesterday to advance to the final of the 18th Azlan Shah Cup.
This will be the third time Malaysia will play in the final. Malaysia won silver in 1985 and 2007, and will play India for the gold today.
Overall, Malaysia controlled the match, with deft passes to penetrate the Kiwi semi-circle, but the finishing was poor.
New Zealand won the first penalty corner in the fourth minute, off their first foray into the Malaysian semi-circle, but it was well stopped by the runners.
Malaysia's first penalty corner in the 20th minute was a heart-stopper, as Amin Rahim's flick was blocked by goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex, and landed in front of S. Selvaraju, but his shot was also saved.
New Zealand earned a penalty corner 30 seconds from the break but, again, failed to capitalise.
After the break, Chua Boon Huat made his entry and his impact was almost immediate.
The veteran Boon Huat, with help from Ismail Abu, won Malaysia a penalty corner after the re-start, but the set-piece was well stopped.
Malaysia were finally rewarded for their hard work, when in the 48th minute, a free hit from 25 yards was deflected into goal by Boon Huat and Malaysia were in the driving seat.
But even as the 1,000-plus fans celebrated the goal, New Zealand struck with a Nicholas Wilson field goal and it was back to square one.
Malaysia were flawless for the remainder of the match, and the crowd gave them a standing ovation.
Meanwhile, India survived mediocrity to advance to the final. Sandip Singh gave them the lead in the 28th minute through a penalty stroke but Pakistan pulled level in the 50th minute.
Abbas Haider gave Pakistan the life-line with a field attempt, but Sandip Singh made sure India advanced to the final with another penalty corner goal in the 60th minute.
India will start the final as favourites after having whipped Malaysia 3-0 in the preliminary round.


P W D L F A Pts
INDIA 4 2 2 0 9 5 8
MALAYSIA 4 2 1 1 8 7 7
NEW ZEALAND 4 1 3 0 7 6 6
PAKISTAN 4 1 0 3 9 8 3
EGYPT 4 0 2 2 4 11 2

RESULTS: India 2 Pakistan 1, Malaysia 1 New Zealand 1.
TODAY -- Third-Fourth: Pakistan v New Zealand (4.30pm), Final: Malaysia v India (7pm).

Time to polish Kiwis

New Zealand players celebrate after scoring against India on Thursday. The teams drew 2-2.

MALAYSIA are in the running to play in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup, provided they pull off at least a draw against New Zealand today.

India will be involved in a do-or-die mission against Pakistan, as the battle for the final tickets goes to the wire in the last pool matches.
Malaysia have only two silver medals to show since the tournament was incepted in 1983. The only silver linings for the hosts came in 1985 and in 2007 in this illustrious tournament which has been graced by the likes of Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Spain, India and Pakistan.
However, coach Tai Beng Hai's team are playing in a rather diluted tournament, where they beat Pakistan 3-2 and then Egypt 4-1 before collapsing 3-0 to India.
The big guns of hockey are conspicuously missing for this edition, while all the teams here today including Malaysia, are still at an experimental stage for the Asia Cup, or World Cup qualifiers.
And so, the results have been anything but predictable, as Egypt played the spoiler role by holding India and New Zealand, and then the drawn game between New Zealand and India threw wide open the chase to the final.
Now, even Pakistan have a chance, provided they beat India and New Zealand beat Malaysia.
Beng Hai said: "There are no major injuries in the team, and fitness was not a problem in all three matches. I believe we will have to press harder against New Zealand if we want to play in the final."
New Zealand have had their problems in this tournament, and their only victory was against Pakistan. However, all the coaches here have the same thing to say about the Kiwis.
"They drew two matches, but never lost their structure at all. In fact, they have been gaining strength after every match, and are among the favourites this year," said India coach Harendra Singh.
Today's match will also indicate if the Malaysian players are ready to take on the challenge of winning the single ticket offered by the Asia Cup in Kuantan to the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi.
Today: India v Pakistan (5pm), New Zealand v Malaysia (7pm).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Indian hockey lesson

Malaysia’s Chua Boon Huat (left) is challenged by India players in their match on Wednesday. India won 3-0. — Pic:MUHAIZAN YAHYA.

MALAYSIA captain Madzli Ikmar, 30, has been in many sticky situations before, and is among a handful of seniors who survived a revamp after the Japan Olympic Qualifier debacle last year.

And he is in another familiar tight spot, after Malaysia lost 3-0 to India, and need to beat New Zealand tomorrow to qualify for the Azlan Shah Cup final.
"The first two matches -- we played almost perfect hockey, but against India, it was an off day. We simply could not get the ball out from midfield to the Indian semi-circle," said Madzli.
And the reason?
"There are a few, but the main problem was that we could not match the total hockey which India played in the first half.
"In fact, we lost the match in the first 15 minutes, and after that, we were left chasing wildly as we tried to make amends by attacking in the second half, but India defended in numbers, while we easily lost possession in the third pass," said Madzli.
However, the Tenaga Nasional player is confident New Zealand can be beaten.
"After the match we had a meeting, and our faults against India were highlighted by coach (Tai Beng Hai). And I am confident we have the capabilities to beat New Zealand and play in the final," said Madzli.
The Malaysian squad were present to watch the India-New Zealand match yesterday, to have a better understanding of how the Kiwis play.
New Zealand have fielded some youngsters in this tournament, and left behind six seniors, as they are preparing for the World Cup qualifiers in Auckland in November.
The Kiwi squad includes newcomers Arun Panchia and Isaac Staples.
The squad is held together by Olympians Kyle Pontifex, Blair Hopping, Dave Kosoof and Ben Collier
The experienced players left behind are Ryan Archibald, Hayden Shaw, Phil Burrows, Simon Child, Brad Shaw and Shea McAleese.

RESULTS: New Zealand 2 India 2, Pakistan 4 Egypt 0.

FIXTURES -- Tomorrow: India v Pakistan (5pm), New Zealand v Malaysia (7pm);
Sunday: Third-Fourth (4.30pm), Final: (7pm).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

India 2 NZ 2, Pakistan 4 Egypt 0

Pakistan 4 -- Muhammad Imran 14th, Shakeel Abbasi 18th, 43rd, 67th
Egypt 0 --

India 2 -- Sandeep Singh 27th, 48th.
NZ 2 -- Richard Petherick 8th, Joseph Barth Holomew 64th.
Note: All four goals were from pernalty corners.

India coach Harendra Singh: We Indians, Pakistan including, must learn to be patient when with the ball. We lost out after taking the lead today because we were in a hurry to counter attack.
In the process, we lose the ball and also the game.\
Even when in the semi-circle, we seem to be the ones who are in a hurry, and dont wait for the defenders to make the move, and then score.
This is where are are losing out.
Now we have to play and emotional game against Pakistan to qualify for the final.

P W D L F A Pts
MALAYSIA 3 2 0 1 7 6 6
INDIA 3 1 2 0 7 4 5
NEW ZEALAND 3 1 2 0 6 5 5
PAKISTAN 3 1 0 2 8 6 3
EGYPT 4 0 2 2 4 11 2

April 10: REST DAY.
April 11: India v Pakistan (5pm), New Zealand v Malaysia

(7pm); April 12: Third-Fourth (4.30pm), Final: (7pm).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


MALAYSIA were soundly beaten 3-0 by India in the 18th Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday, as mistakes crept into their game after two sterling wins.
Now, coach Tai Beng Hai's men must beat New Zealand, who were shocked 1-1 by Egypt, to book a berth in the final.
Malaysia and India were contended with playing slow hockey, until the duck was broken in the 20th minute.
India won their second penalty corner, but the stopper could not handle the push, and the ball bounced akwardly towards Arjun Halappa, whose hit went in, but did not sound the board.
Egypt umpire Sayed Ab Del first blew for no-goal, but when India protested, stopped the match and consulted co-umpire Gareth Greenfield of New Zealand.
After a brief discussion, Sayed changed his mind and blew for goal instead.
India were not deadly in attack, but did just enough to win another penalty corner in the 31st minute, and Sandip Singh's direct flick found its target and it was 2-0 India at half-time.
Mistakes crept into the Malaysian game after the restart, as they lost almost every third pass to the Indians, who looked contented with the lead, defended in numbers, and only made ocassional frays.
Whenever Malaysia attacked, all 11 India players crammed their own semi-circle, but still, no penalty corners were won because of stout defending.
And in the 62nd minute, Gurinder Chandi delt another blow for Malaysia with a field goal, and with time not on their side, Malaysia lost their first match and must now beat the Kiwis if they want to play in the final.
Meanwhile Egypt cemented the fact that their 21st ranking in the world means nothing when they held No 7 New Zealand to a 1-1 draw yesterday.
Egypt took the lead with a feld goal from Ahmed El Hakeim in the 38th minute, while the Kiwis struggled to find the equaliser which they finally nailed in the 51st minute off Steven Edwards.

Egypt 1 New Zealand 1, India 3 Malaysia 0


P W D L F A Pts
MALAYSIA 3 2 0 1 7 6 6
INDIA 2 1 1 0 5 2 4
NEW ZEALAND 2 1 1 0 4 3 4
EGYPT 3 0 2 1 4 7 2
PAKISTAN 2 0 0 2 4 6 0

April 9: New Zealand v India (5pm), Pakistan v Egypt (7pm).
April 10: REST DAY.
April 11: India v Pakistan (5pm), New Zealand v Malaysia (7pm); April 12: Third-Fourth (4.30pm), Final: (7pm).

A goal and baby for Engku Malek

WHEN Engku Malek slammed home the second goal for Malaysia in the 4-1 win against Egypt on Monday, his wife was in labour expecting their second child.

And on Tuesday morning, Engku Malek, 25, travelled to Kuala Lumpur to meet the newest member of the family, a boy. His first is a girl.
The gutsy defender, who made his mark in the 2005 Junior World Cup,will be in the line-up against India today.
"Engku Malek is in Kuala Lumpur now with his family, but he told me he wants to play against India and will be back by tonight (last night)," said Malaysian team manager George Koshy.
The line-up against India will be the same as in the previous two matches, as none of the players picked up injuries.
"We have a tough match against India, and it is good that we will have our best available tomorrow (today).
"This tournament has shown that the players are ready fitness-wise, as when we substitute, there is no drop in standard of play, and there is a smooth transition as everyone on the team is about the same level now."
George, president of the Kuala Lumpur HA and the man behind the success of Ernst & Young in the Malaysia Hockey League, however, feels there are still lapses which need to be looked into.
"The team have shown consistency for long periods, but momentary lapses have let in three soft goals (two against Pakistan and one against Egypt).
"This is the area which needs urgent attention, as we prepare for the Asia Cup," said George.
India will be banking on drag-flicker Sandip Singh to do the damage, but Malaysia have fast first runners, and the feeling is that the national team will qualify for the final with a match against New Zealand in hand.

Peaking too early?

Egypt’s Mohamed Basha (right) stretches over Azlan Misron to knock the ball away from the Malaysian in their Azlan Shah Cup match on Monday. Malaysia won 4-1. — Pic: MUHAIZAN YAHYA

THE question everyone asking is has the Malaysian team peaked too soon and at the wrong tournament, with the Asia Cup starting on May 9 in Kuantan.

The Azlan Shah Cup does not offer ranking points, and neither is it a qualifier to a bigger platform, as here, only pride is at stake.
With 3-2 and 4-1 wins over Pakistan and Egypt respectively in the bag, coach Tai Beng Hai said there is no hard and fast belief to peaking too early.

"The wins are good indicators that training for the past three months has benefited the players, and we are slowly progressing to the desired goal, which is the Asia Cup. Peaking too early is not the case here, as there is still ample room for progress," said Beng Hai.
Of Malaysia's seven goals to date, five have come from penalty corners while two were field attempts.
A handful of penalty corner variations were tested in the two matches, with Amin Rahim scoring from a direct flick, Azlan Misron from a slap-shot, Engku Malek from a hit, and Chua Boon Huat scoring two goals with deflections from the penalty spot.
And the coach said the team have more penalty corner variations up their sleeves.
"I am testing the penalty corner battery by using variations, and in the remaining matches we will test other set-pieces. The Azlan Shah Cup is a timely tournament to prepare Malaysia for the Asia Cup," said Beng Hai.
The Asia Cup offers only one ticket to the 2010 New Delhi World Cup with the losers having to go through other qualifiers. Malaysia are in Group A with Japan, South Korea and Oman, while Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and China make up the other group.
The top two teams advance to the semi-finals which means Malaysia will have to beat either India or Pakistan to make the final.
Both India and Pakistan are having a nightmarish Azlan Shah Cup with India being held 2-2 by Egypt, and Pakistan losing to Malaysia and New Zeland with identical 3-2 scores.
However, coaches of both teams remain unfazed as their end goal is also the Asia Cup. India, as hosts, have qualified while Pakistan will recall four veterans including drag-flicker Sohail Abbas for their Asia Cup campaign.
So, even though the next two matches against India today and New Zealand on Saturday will show if Malaysia have what it takes to qualify for the final, Beng Hai will nonetheless be using the matches to juggle his players, and try out new methods with an eye to snatching the Asia Cup gold.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Malaysia 4 Egypt 1

RESULTS: New Zealand 3 Pakistan 2, Malaysia 4 Egypt 1.

MALAYSIA were made to slog by Egypt, but the 4-1 victory was sweet reward for them in the 18th Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.

The national team are in good steed to make the final as they only have to beat either New Zealand or India after today's rest day.
Malaysia were put under pressure in the first half as Egypt made use of their superior height to steal the ball, and goalkeeper S. Kumar was kept busy.
And at the Egyptian goal, Azlan Misron and Ismail Abu tested goalkeeper Mohamed Mabrouk with a few deft deflections, but the score remained 0-0 as the clock ticked. The Malaysian players looked content on keeping the ball for long periods and making the Egyptians run in circles.
Ismail finally gave the Malaysian fans something to cheer about when he fired a salvo from the top of the semi-circle to beat Mabrouk in the 27th minute.
Both sides went into the dressing room without conceding any penalty corners, but it was obvious that the hosts were in command, even though they only had a one-goal cushion.
The restart saw Malaysia mount numerous attacks and finally won their first penalty corner in the 39th minute.
Amin Rahim took the flick but was stopped by the first runner, and another penalty corner was awarded. This time, defender Engku Malek made no mistake with a thundering shot.
Egypt woke up from their slumber in the 45th minute, and Ahmed El Hakeim made it 2-1 with a field goal.
Malaysia won a string of penalty corners with 10 minutes remaining but none found its mark until the 64th minute when Chua Boon Huat connected. And Boon Huat again scored off a similar penalty corner set-piece four minutes later and Malaysia were safely home.
In an earlier match, New Zealand beat Pakistan 3-2 courtesy of a late penalty stroke.
Priyesh Bhana gave New Zealand the lead in the seventh minute only for Imran Mohammed to equalise for Pakistan a minute later, and then give his team the lead with a 23rd minute penalty corner brace.
Nicholas Haig made it 2-2 in the 44th minute, and New Zealand nailed the winner in the 68th when they were awarded a penalty stroke from which Dean Couzins converted.
Tomorrow: Egypt v New Zealand (5pm), India v Malaysia (7pm); April 9: New Zealand v India (5pm), Pakistan v Egypt (7pm). April 10: REST DAY. April 11: India v Pakistan (5pm), New Zealand v Malaysia (7pm); April 12: Third-Fourth (4.30pm), Final: (7pm).


P W D L F A Pts
MALAYSIA 2 2 0 0 7 3 6
NEW ZEALAND 1 1 0 0 3 2 3
INDIA 1 0 1 0 2 2 1
EGYPT 2 0 1 1 3 6 1
PAKISTAN 2 0 0 2 4 6 0

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Malaysia open on a 3-2 high

Pakistan’s Muhammad Saqlain (centre) tries to find a way past Malaysia’s S. Selvaraju (left) and Baljit Singh in their Azlan Shah Cup match in Ipoh yesterday. Malaysia won 3-2. — Pic: MUHAIZAN YAHYA

RESULTS -- Egypt 2 India 2, Malaysia 3 Pakistan 2.

MALAYSIA started on a winning note when they beat Pakistan 3-2 in the 18th Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
It was the first time Malaysia beat Pakistan after the 2002 Busan Asian Games, and the three points placed coach Tai Beng Hai's men among the favourites for a podium finish.

Malaysia started aggressively, and in the eighth minute, Chua Boon Huat's reverse stick shot was blocked by goalkeeper Ehsan Ullah, but the ball fell onto Ismail Abu's path and he duly converted.
But umpire Sayed Ab Del Rady from Egypt blew for a penalty corner instead.
However, Amin Rahim made up for the umpire's mistake with a low flick which crashed into the board for the lead.
But a lapse in defence two minutes later saw Pakistan pull off a swift equaliser with Shakeel Abbasi getting his name on the scoreboard.

But Shahrun Nabil slammed home a rebound in the 29th minute to give Malaysia the lead again.
Malaysia slowed down the game after the breather with square passes and mounted selected counter attacks.
After soaking in some pressure from Pakistan, Malaysia won their first penalty corner after the breather in the 48th minute and Azlan Misron, the pusher, converted with a slap-shot and Malaysia had a 3-1 cushion.
But instead of looking for more goals, Malaysia started defending and gave Pakistan ample opportunities to score, but the men in green only took up one offer when Abbas Haider scored a field goal in the 68th minute.
"This was the start we were looking for and my players delivered. It is never easy playing Pakistan, and the win was possible as every department worked hard, and were in good understanding," said Beng Hai.
Meanwhile, in the curtain raiser, Egypt stunned India 2-2.
Egypt, ranked 21st in the world, stunned 10th ranked India when Mohamed Hassan scored a field goal in the eighth minute.
India had to dig deep into their resources, before Sandip Singh equalised in the 14th minute off a pealty corner attempt.
Shivendra Singh then gave India the lead in the 50th minute, but a 70th minute penalty corner goal by El Saied Amr saw the Egyptians celebrating their "victory".
FIXTURES: April 6: New Zealand v Pakistan (5pm), Malaysia v Egypt (7pm); April 7: REST DAY; April 8: Egypt v New Zealand (5pm), India v Malaysia (7pm); April 9: New Zealand v India (5pm), Pakistan v Egypt (7pm); April 10: REST DAY; April 11: India v Pakistan (5pm), New Zealand v Malaysia (7pm); April 12: Third-Fourth (4.30pm), Final: (7pm).


P W D L F A Pts
MALAYSIA 1 1 0 0 3 2 3
INDIA 1 0 1 0 2 2 1
EGYPT 1 0 1 0 2 2 1
PAKISTAN 1 0 0 1 2 3 0
NEW ZEALAND 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Its now or never...

MALAYSIA will open their campaign against Pakistan in the 18th Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh today,and there is a high possibility that it will be a winning start.
Pakistan will field a number of youngsters in the Azlan Shah Cup, while four stalwarts will only make their appearance in the Asia Cup in Kuantan on May 8-15.
"If you weigh he Azlan Shah Cup and the Asia Cup, the weight is definately on the Asia Cup as it offers a ticket to the (2010) World Cup.
"That is why we have exempted some players while we will try out some in the Azlan Shah Cup," said Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan.
Drag flick ace Sohail Abbas, striker Rehan Butt, midfielder Waseem Ahmed and goal-keeper Salman Akber are among those who have been exempted.
And Sohail, playing in Europe, holds the world record of scoring 267 internationaL goals before calling it a day to parade his skills in Europe leagues.
"It is confirmed that Sohail will come out of retirement to help Pakistan qualify for the world up, because if we miss this chance in Kuantan, then it will be very difficul to go through the qualifier," said Shahid.
Malaysia are also n the mood to prepare for the Asia Cup: "Of course the Asia Cup is more important, but we will also be playing for a podium finish in the Azlan Shah Cup," said Malaysian coach Tai Beng Hai.
The Azlan Shah Cup was incepted in 1983 with Australia lifting the first title, while Argentina were the 2008 titalists.
India has tasted success in 1985, 191 and 1995, while Pakistan won it in 1999, 2000 and 2003.
New Zealand and Malaysia have yet to see the glitter of gold, while Egypt will be making their debut.
And the absence of regulars Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and South Korea has diluted the tournament to a xcertain degree, but it also gives a glimmer of hope for the home fans.
"Even without the top teams in the world, it will be a difficult tournament, but not an impossible one to win," said Tai Beng Hai.
As for New Zealand, ranked seventh and the highest here, they have also left out many regulars Ryan Archibald, Hayden Shaw, Phil Burrows, Simon Child, Brad Shaw and Shea McAleese.
All pointers indicate that this will be the bet chance for Malaysia to win at their own back-yard. Its now or never.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Malaysia win warm-up

FILE PIC: Pakistan's Waqas Sharif (L) is challenged by Malaysia's Chua Boon Huat during their Hockey Champions Trophy match in Kuala Lumpur December 3, 2007.

MALAYSIA beat New Zealand 2-0 in a warm-up at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh yesterday, and trimmed the Azlan Shah Cup squad to the final 18.
There were no major surprises, as goalkeeper Fairul Wanasir, defender Megat Azrafiq and forwards Herwan Pami and Fekri Basaar were dropped after the final selection.
Malaysia will be up against New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Egypt in the Azlan Shah Cup from April 5-12.
Yesterday, Amin Rahim gave Malaysia the lead in the 10th minute off a penalty corner attempt, while Chua Boon Huat scored the second in the 18th minute, and the two goals were enough to win the friendly.
“I got the feeling that New Zealand were still acclimatising when they played us today (yesterday) and the heat (9am) was too much for them.
“However, the result is a good boost, as this is our last training match before we play in the tournament,” said national chief coach Tai Beng Hai.
The squad: Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Khairul Nizam Ibrahim; Defenders: Amin Rahim, Madzli Ikmar (capt), Sukri Mutalib, Engku Malik, Baljit Singh Sarjab, Baljit Singh Charun.
Midfielders: Shahrun Nabil, Jivan Mohan, Kelvinder Singh, Nabil Fiqri, Azlan Misron; Forwards: S. Selvaraju, Ismail Abu, Chua Boon Huat, Hafifi Hafiz, Amerullah Aziz.
FIXTURES: April 5 -- Egypt v India (5pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (7pm); April 6: New Zealand v Pakistan (5pm), Malaysia v Egypt (7pm).
April 7: REST DAY.
April 8: Egypt v New Zealand (5pm), India v Malaysia (7pm); April 9: New Zealand v India (5pm), Pakistan v Egypt (7pm).
April 10: REST DAY.
April 11: India v Pakistan (5pm), New Zealand v Malaysia (7pm); April 12: Third-Fourth (4.30pm), Final: (7pm).

Watch out for the Kiwis

The Black Sticks after winning the Beijing Olympics Qualfiying Tournament.

AFP -- World number seven New Zealand are the early favourites to win the five-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which starts in Malaysia on Sunday.
The 1976 Montreal Olympic champions are the highest-ranked team in the tournament, which has suffered from the absence of top hockey-playing countries like Germany, Australia and Holland.
Malaysia, India, Pakistan and debutants Egypt join the Kiwis at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh, the capital of northern Perak state, for the invitation event.
New Zealand’s new coach Shane Mcleod will be looking to build a team for the World Cup qualifiers in Auckland in November.
His squad includes newcomers and national juniors Arun Panchia from Auckland and Isaac Staples from Canterbury, and is bolstered by Olympians Kyle Pontifex, Blair Hopping, Dave Kosoof and Ben Collier, who will add experience to an otherwise raw team.
A number of key names are missing from the squad, including Ryan Archibald, Hayden Shaw, Phil Burrows, Simon Child, Brad Shaw and Shea McAleese.
Despite this lack of depth, the Kiwis, who will be playing in the tournament for the ninth time, are still expected to take the honours.
Eighth-ranked Pakistan and neighbours India, tenth, also loom as potential finalists.
India coach Harender Singh says the Sultan Azlan Shah this year will be a testing ground for teams wanting to give their youngsters a chance to break into the senior team.
“For the Asian teams the priority is the Asia Cup in May. This is just a testing ground,” he said.
“I do not think we should expect any great performances. The absence of the top teams will surely affect the quality of the meet. But it still has its uses and we hope to do well,” he said.
Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan will be making his debut in the top job and said the tournament offers him a chance to lay the ground for May.
“We have a young side and this is by no means our final team for the Asia Cup,” he said.
“I want to give the younger players the chance to shine and earn a place in the team. New Zealand and India should be the teams to watch for.
“For us the objective is not the results but the exposure,” he added.
Hosts Malaysia, ranked 15th, will be hoping for a better result after finishing last in 2008, and, say observers, should not be discounted from the final equation.
Like the Kiwis and the Pakistanis, the Malaysians also have a new coach in Tai Beng Hai.
The week-long tournament will start on April 5, with the finals on April 12. Argentina won the hockey event last year.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Azlan Shah Cup Fixtures

I will be in Ipoh for the Azlan Shah Cup, and results will be posted immediately at my blog.

FIXTURES: April 5 -- Egypt v India (5pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (7pm); April 6: New Zealand v Pakistan (5pm), Malaysia v Egypt (7pm).
April 7: REST DAY.
April 8: Egypt v New Zealand (5pm), India v Malaysia (7pm); April 9: New Zealand v India (5pm), Pakistan v Egypt (7pm).
April 10: REST DAY.
April 11: India v Pakistan (5pm), New Zealand v Malaysia (7pm); April 12: Third-Fourth (4.30pm), Final: (7pm).