Friday, July 31, 2009

Sweet 16 for Razak Cup

A RECORD 16 teams will compete in the Razak Cup which will be held at two venues in Kuala Lumpur from Aug 13- 20.
Seven teams will be in Division One, while nine teams in two groups in Division Two. The tournament will be held at the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium, as well as the Tun Razak Stadium.
The foreign teams Singapore and Brunei will play in Division Two, while Project 2013 will compete with the big boys in Division One.
“This is the largest number of teams to have registered for the Razak Cup in recent times, and we had to break Division Two into two groups to accommodate the fixtures,” said Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary Hashim Yu soff.
The tournament, especially Division One, is expected to be competitive, because the national players are on a Tour of Australia and then New Zealand and will only return after the Razak Cup ends.
Negri Sembilan, the runners-up last year, will hold trials to select their players on Sunday at 6.30pm at the Seremban II Stadium. For details, call S. Chandran at 016-3157113 or NSHA secretary Tamil Selvam at 019-3650303.
For the record, Kuala Lumpur won their 17th Razak Cup title with a convincing 5-0 thumping of Negri Sembilan last year, while in Division Two, Penang upset Selangor 3-2 for the title.
DIVISION ONE: Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan, Perak, Malacca, Johor, Penang, Project 2013.
DIVISION TWO: Selangor, Perlis, Singapore, Police, Ke lantan, Kedah, Pahang, Sabah, Brunei.

Malacca KOed by H1N1

MALACCA High School withdrew from the Champion Schools hockey tournament yesterday, after their school was shut for one week because of the H1N1 fever.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) redrew the fix tures, and now 10 teams will play in two groups from today at the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium..
“We received the news today (yesterday) that the school has been ordered to close for one week because some students were found to have symptoms of the H1N1 influenza.
“It is unfortunate, but it is better the hockey players also remain in quarantine at home in Malacca,” said MHF secretary Hashim Yusoff.
Hamzah Machang of Kelantan, the defending champions,
will open accounts against Mutiara Impian of Penang today.
GROUP A: SMK Hamzah Machang (Kel), SMK Mutiara Inpian (Penang), SMK Pertukangan Perantis (Armed Forces), Tunku Besar Secondary School (Negri), Seberang Temerloh (Pah).
GROUP B: Sultan Abu Bakar College (Johor), Khir Johari (Kedah), Anderson (Perak), St John (KL), Seksyen II, Shah Alam (Sel).
TODAY: Hamzah Machang (Kel) v Mutiara Impian (Pg) 7.30am, Tunku Besar Tampin (NS) v Pertukangan Perantis (Forces) 9.30am, Sultan Abu Bakar (Joh) v Anderson (Pk) 3.30pm, St John (KL) v Khir Johari (Ked) 5.30pm.
TOMORROW: Seksyen II, Shah Alam (Sel) v Sultan Abu Bakar (Joh) 7.30am, Khir Johari (Ked) v Anderson (Pk) 9.30am, Seberang Temerloh (Pah) v Hamzah Machang (Kel) 3.30pm, Mutiara Impian (Pg) v Pertukangan Perantis (Forces) 5.30pm.

SMK Hamzah attempt for hat-trick

SMK Hamzah Machang, Kelantan, will be out for their third Champion Schools title when the tournament starts at the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium tomorrow.
Kelantan first won the coveted schools crown in 1999, and then after an eight-year wait, in 2007, when they beat Johor's Sultan Abu Bakar College 5-3.
And Anderson of Ipoh are the bronze medallists, after they beat Penang Free School 3-2.
Eleven schools, including Armed Forces apprentice school, have confirmed for the tournament, which will pit state champions to decide which state has the best schools de velopment programme.
“Perlis, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak are the ab sentees, with logistics their main problem,” said Malaysian Hockey Federation secretary Hashim Yusoff.
GROUP A: SMK Hamzah Machang (Kel), SMK Mutiara Inpian (Penang), SMK Pertukangan Perantis (Armed Forces), Malacca High School (Malacca), Tunku Besar Secondary School (Negri).
GROUP B: Sultan Abu Bakar College (Johor), Khir Johari (Kedah), Anderson (Perak), St John (KL), Seberang Temerloh (Pah), Seksyen II, Shah Alam (Sel).
TOMORROW: Sultan Abu Bakar (Joh) v Seksyen II, Shah Alam (Sel) 7.30am, Anderson (Pk), v Seberang Temerloh (Pah) 9am, Pertukangan Perantis (Forces) v Tunku Besar Tampin (Negri) 3pm, Mutiara Impian (Pg) v Malacca High School (Mal) 5pm, Khir Johari (Ked) v St John (KL) 7pm.
SUNDAY: Mutiara Impian (Pg) v Tunku Besar Tampin (Negri) 7.30am, Hamzah Machang (Kel) v Malacca High School (Mal) 9am, Seksyen II, Shah Alam (Sel) v Khir Johari (Ked) 3pm, Anderson (Pk) v St John (KL) 5pm, Sultan Abu Bakar (Joh) v SMK Seberang Temerloh (Pah) 7pm.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another defeat Down Under

MALAYSIA lost 2-0 to Australia ‘A’ in the Four-Nation in Canberra yesterday.
Australia ‘A’ are a development team, and Brent Dancer (27th) and Glenn Turner (49th) did the damage against Malaysia.
The National team suffered a humiliating 11-3 drubbing in the hands of Kookaburras, former Olympic champions, in the first match.
However, the Kookaburras only beat Canada 4-0 yesterday with goals from Des Abbott (29th), Robbie Hammond (35th), Grant Schubert (48th) and Eli Matheson (53rd).
Malaysia and Canada square off tomorrow. Australia A’s matches do not carry points, and Malaysia need to beat Canada for another rematch with the mighty Kookaburras.
Tomorrow: Canada v Malaysia; Kookaburras v Australia A.

A bunch of clowns

Kookaburras outclass Malaysia
Kookaburras 11 Malaysia 3 (9-1 half time) Goals Australia – Abbott 1m FG, Ciriello 5m PC, Dwyer 6m FG/ 34m FG, Knowles 17m PC, Ford 22m FG/ 33m FG, Orchard 24m/ FG 66m FG, Hammond 30m FG, Schubert 59m PS, Malaysia – Saari 15m FG, Mohamad Nor 52m FG, Hanafi 68m PC

The Kookaburras have made amends for their recent 1-0 shock loss to Malaysia, defeating them 11-3 tonight in Canberra.

The best possible start was made by the Kookaburras, with prolific striker Des Abbott opening the goal scoring account only 30 seconds into the match.

This was an ominous sign for Malaysia, with the Kookaburras showing no mercy and upcoming star Chris Ciriello extending the Kookaburras lead from a penalty corner only minutes later.

When two time world player of the year Jamie Dwyer scored immediately after, the game appeared almost over with over 70 minutes of play still remaining, the Kookaburras simply outclassing the visitors.

This was reinforced throughout the first half, with Mark Knowles, Simon Orchard and Rob Hammond scoring goals while Dwyer added his second just prior to half time, with Russell Ford also scoring two first half goals to set up a 9-1 half time lead.

In complete contrast to the fast paced first half, the goal-fest didn’t quite continue after half time, with the first goal not coming until the 52 minute mark, going to Malaysia.

Despite having the game already won the Kookaburras continued to work hard, with striker Grant Schubert scoring at the 59 minute mark while Orchard scored his second goal at the 66 minute mark.

Despite conceding a late goal with only two minutes remaining, nothing could dampen the performance of the Kookaburras as they prepare for their next game against Canada tomorrow evening in Canberra.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Malaysia defeat Kookaburras for the first time since 1994

MALAYSIA 1 KOOKABURRAS 0 (0-0 half time) Goals – Rahim 52m PC

The Kookaburras have suffered their first defeat to Malaysia since 1994, going down 1-0 tonight in Adelaide.

The first half played out in complete contrast to last night’s 8-1 victory to the Kookaburras, with Malaysia playing a much better brand of hockey. This saw them maintain their fair share of possession throughout the midfield, while also bolstering their defensive structure.

With the Malaysians playing full of confidence and with a defensive mindset, the Kookaburras had initial difficulties in penetrating their circle.

After several minutes of fast paced hockey, it was Malaysia who emerged with the first genuine shot on goal via a penalty corner attempt. However, thanks to some good work by goalkeeper Nathan Burgers, the shot was denied and cleared from the Kookaburras defence.

Determined to regain last nights winning formula the Kookaburras lifted towards the end of the half, with striker Eli Matheson coming agonisingly close to scoring the Kookaburras first goal in his 50th match only to be denied by the Malaysian goalkeeper.

When Jivan Mohan received a yellow card at the 25 minute mark Malaysia found themselves a player short, however the Kookaburras were unable to capitalise and the match entered the half time break drawn at 0-0.

The Kookaburras appeared likely to open the scoring early in the second half after earning two penalty corners. However once again the Malaysian defence proved too strong.

The goals continued to be hard to come by throughout the second half, with both teams having chances including South Australian local Grant Schubert who was unable to finish off what appeared to be a certain goal.

Malaysia made the Kookaburras pay soon after, with Muhammad Amin Rahim converting a goal from their first penalty corner of the second half to take the lead much to the surprise of the Adelaide crowd.

The Kookaburras, desperate to force their way back into the game, stepped up a gear in a bid to at least force a draw. However despite generating some genuine opportunities, the Australians just couldn’t manage to find the back of the net.

When Malaysia received their second yellow card of the night at the 66 minute mark it appeared as though the Kookaburras had their best opportunity yet to capitalise.

When they received a penalty corner with only a minute left on the clock it loomed to be their last chance to level the score.

However following the trend of the night, the goals just didn’t flow of the Kookaburras, with a David Guest flick deflecting off the goalkeeper and into the cross bar.

Grant Schubert, in his 150th international match, said the team was obviously disappointed with the result however will look to improve.

”Obviously we didn’t get the result we were after, however we will take away more from this game that we did from last nights win. We had lots of chances but the difference between tonight’s game and last night’s is that we just couldn’t put them away,” said Schubert.

The Kookaburras will now travel to Canberra where they will take on Malaysia, Canada and Australia A with the matches beginning on Wednesday 29 July.

Johor lift under-23 title

NOR Hafiq Ghaffar’s hat-trick against Malacca handed Johor the National Under-23 title at the Bukit Serindit Stadium yesterday.
And in the bronze battle, Project 2013 edged Kuala Lumpur 3-2 to stand tall on the podium.
Johor took a 2-0 lead, before Malacca equalised, but with one minute remaining in the match, Junior World Cup player Nor Hafiq delivered his third penalty corner goal to shut out the hosts.
“We only had one days training before travelling to Malac ca, and I am happy that the boys delivered with great understanding in all the matches,” said Johor coach Sarjit Singh.
Malacca coach G. Ravindran rues his skipper’s missed sitter, which could have taken the match into extra-time.
“Nazmi (Kamaruddin) had beaten the Johor goalkeeper and only needed to tap the ball in, but shot wide. It could have turned the tide in the extra-time.
“However, our target was to play in the final, and I am happy that my players delivered against more experienced opponents,” said Ravindran.
Nor Hafiq scored in the 8th, 28th and 69th minutes, while the Malacca goals were delivered by Raihan Azahar (48th) and Amirullah Zainul (50th).
The National Under-23 saw 10 teams competing with seven Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) affiliates staying away.
The seven absentees are Perlis, Kedah, Selangor, Police, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak.
RESULTS: Final -- Malacca 2 Johor 3; Third-Fourth: Project 2013 2 Kuala Lumpur 2 (Project win on golden goal).
ROLL-OF-HONOUR: Best Goalkeeper: Hakim Adnan (Kuala Lumpur); Top Scorer: Nor Hafiq Ghaffar (seven goals, Johor); Best Player of Tournament: Nazmi Kamaruddin (Malacca); Man of the match: Nor Hafiq Ghaffar (Johor); Fair- play: Penang.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Australia humiliate Malaysia 8-1

Kookaburras Maul Malaysia in Adelaide
KOOKABURRAS 8 MALAYSIA 1 (4-0 half time) Australia got their goals off Brent Livermore (10th), Fergus Kavanagh (14th), Grant Schubert (18th, 32nd), Chris Criello (38th, 66th), Mark Knowles (46th), Jamie Dwyer (47th).
Ismail Abu scored the consolation in the 62nd minute.

The Kookaburras preparation for the ABN AMRO Hockey Champions Trophy - Men 2009 tournament appears to be well on track, with Australia disposing of Malaysia in a clinical fashion tonight in Adelaide.

In what was the Kookaburras first appearance in Adelaide since 2002, the early stages of the match played out according to script, with the world number 2 Kookaburras dominating the 16th ranked Malaysian team.

Although Malaysia was able to deny the Kookaburras first penalty corner attempt, an early Australian goal appeared to be a mere formality.

After several minutes of peppering their goal, eventually the Kookaburras opened the scoring, with veteran Brent Livermore scoring at the ten minute mark.

Playing the match at a ferocious pace the Kookaburras continued to attack, and when Fergus Kavanagh scored at the 14 minute mark the signs already looked ominous for Malaysia as the Kookaburras showed no mercy.

The crowd were given further reason to cheer after a long pass from Jamie Dwyer found a diving Grant Schubert in the circle for the Kookaburras third goal of the half. As the only South Australian member of the Kookaburras squad, Schubert was understandably pleased with the goal, given that tonight was his first international match in front of his home crowd.

Malaysia seemingly settled following the initial Kookaburras onslaught, but again the class of the Kookaburras proved too strong, with home town hero Grant Schubert scoring his second goal of the match just minutes before half time.

Things didn’t improve for Malaysia after half time, with young Victorian Chris Ciriello continuing his good form from a recent European tour to convert the Kookaburras’ first penalty corner for the evening.

In a sign of how bad Malaysia’s night was going, the Kookaburras next goal came via a penalty corner shot which although initially stopped by the goalkeeper, somehow still found its way to the back of the net.

Only minutes later the Kookaburras recorded their seventh goal, with Malaysia leaving Jamie Dwyer unchecked in the circle at their peril with the two time player of the year making easy work of his one on one with the goalkeeper.

Despite trailing heavily on the scoreboard Malaysia continued to persist, eventually getting some reward when a well worked ball penetrated the Kookaburras defence at the 62 minute mark.

The Kookaburras responded immediately, with Ciriello scoring his second goal of the night from a penalty corner to seal a convincing victory for the Kookaburras.

The Kookaburras will play Malaysia again in Adelaide on Sunday 26 July before facing off again against Malaysia, Canada and Australia A in Canberra from Wednesday 29 July until Sunday 3 August.

Johor appeal for fair umpiring

JOHOR are confident that they have enough talent to beat hosts Malacca today in the National Under-23 final at the Bukit Serindit Stadium, but they are wary of the umpires.
Johor coach Sarjit Singh (pic), a former national juniors coach, said his charges are prepared to lift the title, provided that umpiring is of high standard.
“I don’t want a repeat of what happened to Kuala Lumpur in the semi-finals. I am appealing for fair umpiring, and my boys will do the rest,” said Sarjit.
Kuala Lumpur were the overwhelming favourites against Malacca in the semi-finals on Friday, but those who watched the match, were shocked with the level of umpiring, which they said sided the hosts.
And at the end of the match, Kuala Lumpur players R. Nadesh and Harwinder Singh, who both played in the recent Junior World Cup, were hauled up to face the technical committee for abusing the umpires.
“I am in the dark as to why both my players have been called up by the technical committee. As far as I know, both the boys did not say anything abusive to the umpires and I was shocked when they were told to face the technical committee at 1pm tomorrow (today).
“Our bronze playoff with Project 2013 is at 3pm, and if we lose both the world cup players, it will be a big blow to KL,” said KL coach I. Vickneswaran.
Johor, with seven Junior World Cup players, are the hot favourites even though the Johor-Malacca group match ended in a 2-2 draw.
“We were leading 2-1 and had control of the match, and even increased the lead to 3-1, but the third goal was disallowed by the umpire even though in my opinion, it was a legitimate one.
“And for the final, I appeal to the umpires to give their best, and leave sentiments aside,” said Sarjit.
Malacca coach G. Ravindran knows the score well: “With so many experienced players in Johor, we will surely be the under dogs. However, we take comfort form the 2-2 draw in the pool match, and hope to post another surprise tomorrow (today).”
TODAY: Final -- Malacca v Johor (5pm); Third-Fourth: Project 2013 v Kuala Lumpur (3pm).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Johor v Malacca final

(reporting live from Malacca)

Semi-finals: Malacca 1 Kuala Lumpur 0; Johor 3 Project 2013 0.
Tomorrow: Final -- Malacca v Johor (5pm); Third-Fourth: Kuala Lumpur v Project 2013 (3pm).

JOHOR will take on hosts Malacca in the final of the U23 Tournament this Sunday
Both teams were cautious in the opening 15 minutes and failed to create any clear cut goal scoring chances.
The Project Squad were awarded two penalty corners in quick succession in the 17th and 18th minutes but made no headway.
Johor took the lead a minute before halftime when Hang Edzharsyah Hang Tuah was left unmarked in the semicircle and had the simplest task of sending a reverse hit stick into goal.
Edzharsyah showed good individual skills in the 48th minute and won a penalty corner.
Mohd Sybrie Shamsuddin duly sent in a low drag flick to put Johor 2-0 ahead.
The Project Team then started playing as a team to stretch the Johor defence but failed to find the elusive final touch that could have narrowed the deficit.
Edzharsyah then made sure of Johor"s place in the final when he deflected in a cross in the 62nd minute.
In the other semi final, Malacca upstaged favourites Kuala Lumpur 1-0 through a 4th minute goal scored by skipper Nazmi Kamaruddin.
Though the city lads created numerous chances and were awarded seven penalty corners, they failed to capitalise on it and were also victims of dubious decisions by the umpires.
Though KL were more superior in every department, they were let down by poor finishing.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No sparks as affiliates maintain silence

HEADS were expected to roll during the Malaysian Hockey Federation's
(MHF) eagerly anticipated council meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday but
it turned out be a dull affair instead.
MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah was expected to take
drastic action after Malaysia's debacle in the Champions Challenge II in
Dublin but head coach Tai Beng Hai and his assistants survived the chop.
The issue of coaching committee chairman Dr Balbir Singh, who was
alleged to have made appointments before seeking the approval of its
members, was also not discussed.
Tengku Abdullah was said to be immensely disappointed with Malaysia's
performance in Dublin, leading to speculation that he was contemplating
Tengku Abdullah did not speak to the media after the council meeting
but MHF deputy president Noor Azmi Ahmad attributed this to another
meeting the president had to attend in Putrajaya.
Noor Azmi said speculation about Tengku Abdullah's future with MHF was
not raised and neither did he hint about wanting to leave the
"The failure in the Champions Challenge in Dublin was discussed. Tengku
Abdullah was disappointed that Malaysia couldn't achieve the target of
becoming champions and could only finish fourth," said Noor Azmi.
"However, Tengku Abdullah has not taken any drastic action and still
has faith in Beng Hai, who must take serious measures to help the
Malaysian senior squad show improvement again.
"All coaches will retain their positions while the sub-committees will
remain status quo.
"Beng Hai's next mission is to guide Malaysia in the World Cup
qualifiers in New Delhi later this year where they must finish champions.
"Beng Hai came into the fray in January and he should be given time and
it will not be a good move to hire a new coach with the World Cup
qualifiers just four months away."
Noor Azmi also stated that Tengku Abdullah had urged the sub committees
to avoid internal bickering and work more professionally to bring
positive changes to MHF and Malaysian hockey.

Flying start for Project 2013

THE Project 2013 began their campaign in the National Under-23
championship with a win as they defeated Perak 2-1 in a Group A match at
the Malacca City Council (MBMB) Stadium in Bukit Serindit yesterday.
In another Group A match, Armed Forces also scored a comfortable 3-0
victory over Terengganu.
Johor battled back from 3-1 down to earn a 3-3 draw against Penang in
Group B.
RESULTS - Group A: Project 2013 2 Perak 1; Armed Forces 3 Terengganu 0.
Group B: Johor 3 Penang 3; Pahang 2 v Malacca 2.
Today : Selangor v Penang (3pm), Perak v KL (5pm), Pahang v Negri
(5pm), Johor v Malacca (8pm), Project 2013 v Terengganu (8pm).
(All matches at Malacca City Council Stadium)

Challenge for Tengku Abdullah

By Ajitpal Singh

MALAYSIAN Hockey Federation (MHF) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad
Shah will have his hands full when he chairs the council meeting on
Saturday, with the national team's Champions Challenge II debacle likely
to be the main item on the agenda.
Tengku Abdullah, however, must first address the issue of the MHF's
almost non-functioning committees, which have been sleeping on their
respective jobs over the past months.
According to the MHF constitution, the respective committees are
supposed to meet once every three months but some have not been doing so.
Instead, these committees are only meeting now, just days before having
to present their reports to the council.
A recent coaching committee meeting made headlines after its chairman
Dr Balbir Singh was alleged to have made appointments before seeking the
approval of its members.
These appointees were removed immediately from the committee in the
recent meeting.
Another issue that the members were unhappy about was the appointment
of coaches for various age-groups and national teams.
The members claimed they were not consulted before Balbir appointed
these coaches.
These issues were brought up in the first coaching committee meeting on
Jan 10, which they allege Balbir failed to address immediately
It is learnt that Balbir had wanted to resign but has yet to do so.
MHF secretary Hashim Mohd Yusoff confirmed that Balbir is not resigning
from his post.
"We have not received anything official or unofficial, from him
(Balbir). As far as the federation is concerned, Balbir is still the
chairman," said Hashim yesterday.
"All concerned committees will also present their respective minutes of
meetings to the council on Saturday."
On the below-par performance performance in the recent Champions
Challenge II, Hashim said the matter will be discussed extensively in the
"I can't say much over the possible outcome but the subject will be
addressed with great concern," said Hashim.
The national team, who were given the target of winning the Champions
Challenge II, instead finished fourth, despite being the second highest
ranked team in the tournament.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Autopsy, not postmortem needed...

POLES celebrate their golden haul. -- Pic By Pic: Adrian Boehm

UNOFFICIALLY, Malaysia are now number 18 in the world after finishing fourth in Division Three of the world hockey league.
So Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah will surely not see his boys break into the top 10 in his tenure.
Champions Trophy has six teams, Champions Challenge eight teams, and since Malaysia finished fourth in the Champions Challenge II, it means we are 18th among 22 teams who actively play hockey in the world.
So many postmortems have been done in the last decade, after a string of failures, that another one will be a waste of time. For a fact, an autopsy is what the dead body of hockey needs right now to find the source that finally led to its demise.
Poland gained promotion to the Champions Challenge when they beat Ireland 5-4 on penalty strokes after a 3-3 deadlock.
The Poles remained unbeaten in this lowly ranked tour nament, and emerged as the best among the worst.
And this is what the Polish have back home --- even though they are ranked 20th in the world, they are number two in Indoor Hockey in Europe.
And they only have two men’s senior leagues, with 10 teams in Division One and seven teams in Division Two, with only two towns, Poznan and Siemianowice Slaskie, playing hockey.
In Malaysia, the national team is virtually together in camp or playing tournaments, and international friendlies for at least 300 days a year, and the results show effective this system is.
The juniors are 12th in the world, and this shows that even after this batch of seniors retire, at least in five years time, the replacements will not be able to dig themselves out of the grave that they have dug for themselves.
There are eight under-23 players in the present senior squad, but all of them have more international exposure than many players in the Polish team which won gold.
This only shows that the present system of concentration too much on the national team, until not even allowing them to play in the local leagues months ahead of any international tournament, has killed off club hockey which is the source of excitement, and pride of European countries.
This year alone we have played in four tournaments, and only have the Azlan Shah Cup silver medal to show. The Asia Cup was a fourth placed disaster, the Junior World Cup 12th, and now fourth again.
Even in Asia, Malaysia are ranked fourth, so the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) can forget about winning gold medal in the November World Cup Qualifier, as it has never been done since Malaysia played in its first Olympics in 1956 in Melbourne.
The only podium finishes are at the Sea Games, and it looks like we will only be best among the ASEAN teams for another decade.
RESULTS: Final -- Poland 3 Ireland 3 (Poland win 5-4 on penalty strokes); Third-Fourth: France 3 Malaysia 3 (France win on golden goal); Fifth-Sixth: Japan 9 Russia 2; Seventh- Eighth: Austria 4 Chile 2.
Final Ranking: 1 Poland, 2 Ireland, 3 France, 4 Malaysia, 5 Japan, 6 Russia, 7 Austria, 8 Chile.

Poland gain gold and promotion

Champion's Challenge II: Ireland denied on strokes

Poland 3 (Marcin Strykowski 2, Dariusz Rachwalski) Ireland 3 (Mikey Watt 2, John Jermyn); Poland win 5-4 on penalties
Ireland let the inaugural Champion’s Challenge II title slip through their fingers at Belfield this afternoon as they let a commanding lead and performance come unstuck in the closing stages of a pulsating final battle against Poland.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nightmare sets in

France 4

Genestet 16m; Soyez 18m; Jean-Jean 41m; Soyez AET

Malaysia 3

Hafifi Hafiz 41st, S. Selvaraju 58th, Razie Rahim 65th.

MALAYSIA took the match into extra-time, before bowing out to France 4-3 in the bronze fight at the Champions Challenge II in Dublin yesterday.
The Challenge ended with no medal to show, and now the challenge of rebuilding for the world cup qualifiers will start when they return home.
Malaysia were 2-0 down 20 minutes into the match, and it looked like it was all over, and they were heading for a hiding.
But Hafifi hafiz pulled one back in the 41st minute, only to see France sail ahead to a 3-1 lead in the 41st minute.
However, goals from S. Selvaraju and Razie Rahim in the 58th and 65th minutes respectively took Malaysia into the extra-time playoff.
However, France bounced back and scored a golden goal for the bronze medal.
Malaysia will now have to re-build before the New Delhi World Cup qualifier in November, where only the gold medallists gain entry.
There will be three qualifiers, and the four Asian teams who will play for the three tickets are Malaysia, China, Japan and Pakistan. Africa and Oceania will have one team each, while Europe will have a brigade of nine teams, and Pan America three teams.
There will be six teams battling for one ticket in each qualifier, and it looks like another uphill task for Malaysia to play in New Delhi.
RESULTS: Third-Fourth: Malaysia 3 France 3 (France win golden goal); Fifth-Sixth: Japan 9 Russia 2; Seventh-Eighth: Austria 4 Chile 2.

MHF Coaching Committee in big mess

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) coaching com mittee meeting on Saturday saw council members revolt against their president Dr Balbir Singh, and there was a stand-off until all the members he appointed were sacked, before calm was restored.
Dr Balbir, who could not be contacted for comment, stormed out of the meeting, but returned later to helm the committee. It is said that he will quit the committee by Tuesday, after meeting MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Among those who were removed was their secretary R. Vivikanandan and five standing committee members ap pointed by the president.
“It was stormy, and tables were thumped, to put it mildly, as state representatives were angry because the appoint ments were constitutionally illegal. And the meeting only resumed after the president agreed to remove all the illegal appointments,” said a coaching committee member who declined to be named.
A vote to remove the standing committee and secretary was held, and the outcome was 7-1 in favour of removing them. Two members abstained, while four other state rep resentatives did not attend the meeting.
In their place, the various state representatives are now made members, while seven new members were appointed to the standing committee.
Another issue that he members were unhappy about was the manner coaches for the various age-groups, and national teams were selected.
“We were never consulted when coaches were appointed for the various age-groups, and national sides. The ap pointments were made by a member of the MHF council, and the coaching committee president was told to rubber stamp them.
“This is a serious issue, and from now, we will be making the recommendations, for the council to approve and not the other way around,” said a member.
Also thorny was the appointment of coaches to the Under- 16 and under-18 teams which played friendlies in Johor and Singapore during the Junior World Cup.
“Five coaches were appointed to both the age-groups without our knowledge, and we will get to the bottom of this issue when the MHF council meets in the middle of the month.”
As it is, respect for Malaysian hockey is at a low ebb, and a strong message needs to be sent by MHF president when he chairs the council meeting.

The defeat in pictures

S. Selvaraju down and out like the Malaysian team after they lost 2-1 to Ireland in the semis.
Ireland players jump for joy, while Malaysians can't believe their luck as the clock in the background turns 0:00

Ireland break Malaysian challenge

Champion's Challenge II: Ireland reach final - semi-final reports

Ireland 2 (John Jermyn , David Hobbs) Malaysia 1 (Tengku Tajuddin)
Ireland held out for a famous victory at Belfield this afternoon amid the pouring rain, edging out a lively Malaysia to set up a revenge mission in tomorrow’s final against Poland.

They were made to live on their nerves, though, as a corner conceded 15 seconds from time could have proved a costly error.

David Harte, though, stood tall and when the rebound did not fall Tengku Tajuddin’s way, Ireland celebrated wildly with each player joining the embrace before saluting the sizable crowd in the grandstand.

It was a game of serious swings in momentum as first Malaysia and latterly Ireland enjoyed long periods of dominance. John Jermyn once again got Ireland off to the perfect start, firing his sixth goal of the tournament with a low drag in the fourth minute.

But the Asian side controlled possession and Ireland’s deep press played into the Malaysian’s hands, given their superior skills in tight situations.

Harte did well to smother Ismail Abu’s effort while Tajuddin’s beautiful ball was deflected onto the post by Selvaraju Sandrakasi. But they did not have to wait long for their just reward when Tengku pounced on a corner rebound - following Amin Rahim’s drag - to finish adroitly from three yards midway through the half.

During this period, Eugene Magee was providing a decent outlet and his exchange with Mitch Darling showed an Irish threat still existed. Jermyn’s next corner drew a top save from Kumar Subramaniam as well as denying Graham Shaw in the aftermath.

Indeed, Ireland almost took the lead just three seconds before the half-time hooter when Stephen Butler’s raking overhead found the unlikely target of Ronan Gormley as the furthest man forward but the right-back flashed across the goal.

And the hosts took that momentum into the second period, winning their third corner inside 50 seconds of the turnaround, Mikey Watt reversed while Tim Lewis - Ireland’s stand-out defender in the tournament to date - produced an amazing 70-metre pass to play in Magee.

John Jermyn’s yellow card - for an off-the-ball barge on Sukri Abd Mutalib - barely broke their stride. On his return to the field, he would later receive a green card for not retreating.

Tajuddin did pop one past Harte on the end-line but Joe Brennan cleared the raised ball well to safety before Magee provided the game’s best solo action; racing 40-metres in between five defenders to win a corner. From it, Ireland got the crucial score, using a first switch routine of the competition.

Butler’s one-two with Magee created space at the flick-spot but his drag was saved. Lewis’ follow-up hit the post but the third phase fell to David Hobbs to slide under Subramaniam.

The volume of rain saw numerous slips and misjudgements, adding to the excitement of the game. A massive overhead created havoc between Johnny Jackson and David Harte, bouncing over the goalkeeper’s head at the top of the circle.

Sandrakasi, though, was not tall enough to guide the ball into the net as he snuck in around the back. And Ireland continued to live on their wits as they sank back deeper and deeper, giving away cheap possession with endless overheads.

It was always likely to give up one major chance for the Malaysians to equalise and it came with 15 seconds on the scoreboard when Joe Brennan was penalised wide on the right flank.

But Harte filled his goal well and Paul Revington had victory in the most meaningful match of his embryonic career as Irish national coach.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Poland checks into final

Champion's Challenge II: Semi-finals

Poland 3 (Marcin Strykowski, Szymon Oszjczyk, Tomasz Duktiewicz) France 1 (Freddie Soyez)

POLAND became the first finalist after their counter-attack game proved too much for France at Belfield this afternoon.

The French had started the strongest, taking the lead through Freddie Soyez’ drag-flick. But two beautifully conceived Polish goals before half-time switched the lead.
Marcin Strykowski got the first response in the tenth minute, profiting from some top skills down the left wing to squeeze the ball past Max Wilson.
And the turnaround continued with a brilliant move, completed with Tomasz Choczaj’s superb in to out run creating the space for Szymon Oszjczyk to tap in.
Choczaj proved a livewire throughout and was unlucky to be denied in the preceding play to the second goal with a diving reverse and hit the sideboard with the first shot of the second half.
Poland’s speedy attacks continued to bear fruit - especially when Lucas Sevestre was sin-binned - with Slawomir Choczaj pulling across the goal from yet another break-out. Their reward came in the 53rd minute from their second corner when Tomasz Duktiewicz powered a drag-flick through Wilson.
With a healthy lead in tact, the wheels fell off somewhat with both Miroslaw Juszczak and Duktiewicz put in the bin for over-zealous tackles in the 58th minute.
But France were unable to take advantage, with Arkadiusz Matuszak pulling off a sensational double-save as Poland played out the match in untidy but effective fashion.

Russia 2 Chile 1

Champion's Challenge II: Day four results

Russia 2 (Alexander Likov, Alexandre Platonov) Chile 1 (Thomas Kannegiesser)

RUSSIA'S greater proficiency in both circles proved the vital factor as Chile created much but threatened little except in the closing four minutes.

Alexander Likov’s 14th minute reverse-stick effort was the sole highlight of the first half as the South American side let four penalty corners slip through their fingers.

Their fifth and sixth corners were comfortably dealt with by Roman Rogov just after the break, too, before Chile goalkeeper Mauro Scaff produced the save of the day.
Diving the opposite direction, he got a strong glove to Sergey Kostarev’s point-blank deflection from the Russian’s first corner of the game in the 44th minute.
And with Alexis Berzcely in the sin-bin, Russia began to turn the screw, winning three corners. The game-winning goal eventually came with seven minutes to go from a pitch-length move.
Felipe Montegu appeared to be heftily fouled but no free ensued. A superb break-out ended with skipper Alexandre Platonov and Alexey Mamoshkin exchanging three passes to round Scaff, the former roll into the open net.
Chile pulled one back with two minutes to left - Thomas Kanegiesser snapping up at the third attempt from Sebastian Kapsch’s wriggle down the left touch-line.
And they had a chance to force extra-time seconds later from their seventh corner but - after a lengthy discussion at the top of the circle - the move broke down at the switch phase.
Russia, therefore, qualify for Sunday's 5th place playoff against Japan while Chile play Austria for the 7th place ranking points.

Fake or Fact?

NOT TIGER'S WIFE: The Sunday Times of London put paid to any further rumors by pronouncing that the photos were those of Kimberly Hiott, and were often miscredited as being of other women.
“Hiott’s nude photos appear on numerous sport and porn websites, which mischievously credit her as either Elin Nordegren, Woods’ wife, or as Helen Svedin, the model wife of the former Portuguese international footballer Luis Figo.” said the Sunday Times of London.

Japan 4 Austria 2

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Champion's Challenge II: Day Four Results

5th to 8th place playoff: Japan 4 (Ryuji Furusato, Yoshihiro Anai, Genki Mitani 2)Austria 2 (Benjamin Stanzl, Wolfgang Laminger)

Japan qualified for the fifth place play-off, taking the spoils from a lively opener to the fourth day of the Champion’s Challenge II in Belfield.

Benji Stanzl broke the deadlock from Austria’s second serious break-out of the day in the 18th minute, bashing home first time Michael Korper’s right wing pull-back.
Japan, though, turned the game on its head with two goals in two minutes when Ryuji Fukushiro deflected in a well-worked auto-pass move and Yoshihiro Anai spectacularly clattered in a bouncing backhand shot after his initial drag-flick was blocked down.
The lead was extended out to 4-1 in the second half thanks to Genki Mitani’s double strike from close range - the second showing a neat first touch to escape goalkeeper Lukas Graser and roll into the ensuing open goal.
Wolfgang Laminger cut through the centre to the Japanese defence for a consolation, though Japan should have concluded the game with a three-goal advantage when a beautifully worked corner found only Ryuji Furusato’s foot mere inches from the goal.

Stiff Irish test for our boys

MALAYSIA can expect a stiff challenge from hosts Ireland in the semi-finals of the Champions Challenge II in Dublin, today, but they have no choice but to win to ensure hockey stays alive in the country. The Champions Challenge II gold medal is vital for Malaysia to start pulling their way back into the higher level of the game.
A defeat will surely mean more misery for Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and his council.
Malaysia have not been impressive in their pool matches, having done just enough to keep their gold medal hopes alive.
They edged Austria 3-2, France 4-2 and Russia 4-3 to remain unbeaten -- which in itself is a rare feat for the national team in the last decade.

Making it more difficult for Malaysia today will be former international Arul Selvaraj, who is an assistant coach in the Ireland team.
Arul said he feels awkward planning to topple his friends and country.
"I am excited at the prospect of guiding Ireland to the top of the podium, but at the same time, feel a little awkward. I've always been in the Malaysian camp as a player or coach (he assisted Paul Lissek) and now I will be facing my friends and players who I have coached before," said Arul via e-mail.
On the Malaysian team, Arul said: "Malaysia are physically better prepared, and have better international exposure while Ireland are tactically better, but lack experience.
"I predict that penalty corners will decide who wins," said Arul.
This is an Irish forte and they have penalty corner flicker John Jermyn to thank for their identical 3-0 wins over Chile and Japan.
Jermyn scored five of the goals. He was, however, off target against Poland and they lost 3-2.
As for Malaysia, Amin Rahim has scored off two penalty corners and one penalty stroke. Penalty corner variations also saw Azlan Misron, Ismail Abu and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin sounding the board.
The field goals were scored by Faizal Shaari, Hafifi Hafiz, Razie Rahim, Ismail Abu and Kelvinder Singh.
Malaysia scored 11 goals but let in seven, which is a worrying factor, as the Irish have only allowed three goals past them.
"It will be a tough match, and I predict a battle to the end because in my opinion, the Irish are the best prepared team in this tournament.
"We will have to be extra careful at the back, and rely on swift attacks to do the damage," said national coach Tai Beng Hai.
WEDNESDAY'S RESULTS -- Group A: Japan 4 Chile 3, Poland 3 Ireland 2; Group B: Malaysia 4 Russia 3, Austria 1 France 5.
TODAY -- Semi-finals: Malaysia v Ireland (12.05am tomorrow in Malaysia); Poland v France.



P W D L F A Pts
Poland 3 3 0 0 9 6 9
Ireland 3 2 0 1 8 3 6
Japan 3 1 0 2 6 9 3
Chile 3 0 0 3 5 10 0

P W D L F A Pts
Malaysia 3 3 0 0 11 7 9
France 3 2 0 1 12 8 6
Russia 3 0 1 2 10 13 1
Austria 3 0 1 2 7 12 1

Arul Selvaraj on opposite bench


Anthoni to face old friends for first time

Given the spectator numbers to date, Ireland's match with Malaysia should prove the biggest draw of the Champion's Challenge II to date with the South-East Asian side adorning the crowd with bodhrans and plenty of noise (seen talking to players post-match, below right).

Some may have hoped for the fixture to have been the final but, after Pakistan last year at the Setanta Trophy, the influx of an Asian side to Belfield has brought a distinct extra bit of magic to the tournament and so having the glamour tie against the hosts needed to happen at some stage.

Like Pakistan, Malaysia have shown a 100pc commitment to attacking hockey - fittingly throwing nine men forward with 45 seconds to go of their tie with Russia despite holding a 4-3 lead.

A 70-metre Russian overhead almost caught them out but the Malaysians tend to give sides a chance to play and express themselves, making this afternoon's semi-final Ireland top billing.

For Ireland assistant coach Arul Anthoni, the game will be his first against his country of origin having missed out on that occurrence during his time in South Africa when he was unable to travel to a tournament.

However, he is confident he has the inside track, saying he knows the opposition 'inside-out'. His direct opposite number - Noor Zaiful - was one of his team-mates during his 83-cap career as was current forward Chua Boon Huat (left) while Anthoni has encountered all bar Malaysia's two U-21 players in club action.

Whether that knowledge can lead Ireland to victory tonight remains to be seen but it should be the highlight of what has been a high-scoring tournament to date.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Poland 3 Ireland 2


Ireland 2 (Mikey Watt, Alan Sothern) Poland 3 (Tomasz Gorny, Maciej Janiszewski, Tomasz Dutkiewicz)

Despite the match being solely to decide semi-final pairings, Ireland and Poland played out the most intense battle of the Champion’s Challenge II to date.
Tomasz Dutkiewicz’s low corner strike early in the second half proved the vital moment of a helter-skelter battle with both sides taking the most direct route to goal.
Ireland led twice but could not hold onto the advantage in the face of the Polish onslaught.
Mikey Watt opened the scoring in the fifth minute just moments after Dariusz Rachwalski applied the pitching wedge over David Harte’s goal.
The Grange man dug the ball out from under his feet to reverse home after Eugene Magee’s baseline foraging pulled goalkeeper Marcin Trzaskawka. Tomasz Gorny levelled soon after as he burst two tackles before smashing home via a defensive stick.
Sothern restored the lead in the 24th minute from the first corner of the game - won after Tim Lewis’ sublime long ball reached Graham Shaw on the circle’s edge. But the sides were on level terms when Maciej Janiszewski’s snap-shot beat Harte in the 33rd minute.
Magee had a chance to restore the lead yet again when Timmy Cockram hared through but his lay-off was slipped across goal to leave the game 2-2 at the interval.

And Poland’s Tomasz Dutkiewicz put Ireland behind for the first time in the competition as he fired his side’s first corner low after Miroslaw Juszczak spun the ball into his path.

From there, a rip-roaring encounter saw plenty of circle penetrations but no more goals. Four Irish straight strikes from corners went by the wayside as Poland placed two men on the line with goalkeeper Trzaskawka.
Sothern hit the post with the third of those while Jermyn’s drive was saved on the final hooter. Dutkiewicz, for his part, drew a top drawer save from Harte to keep Ireland in contention.
Afterwards, Paul Revington felt his side came up second best in the game’s key battles. “We are disappointed that we lost the penalty corner battle and the counter attack battle. These two areas of the game must improve for the weekend.”
Final group standings (points/goal difference):
Group A:
1. Poland 9pts (+3) 2. Ireland 6pts (+5) 3. Japan 3pts (-3) 4. Chile 0pts (-5)
Fixtures (Saturday):
Semi-finals: 2.30pm France vs Poland; 5pm Malaysia vs Ireland

Thrilling 4-3 win


Group B: Malaysia 4 (Ismail Abu, Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi, Tengku Abd, Faizal Saari) Russia 3 (Alexey Sergeev 2, Alexey Mamoshkin)

Malaysia edged a thrill-fest to open the third day at the Champion's Challenge II, ending Russia's faint hopes of advancing to the semi-finals.

Malaysia made the best use of a non-stop, counter-attack battle in front of a vocal support to build up a 2-0 half-time lead through Ismail Abu's corner deflection and Hafifi Hafiz Hanifi's rebound.

Russia let three corners slip by before the break but Alexey Sergeev nailed the fourth six minutes into the second half and his side were level inside 30 seconds when Alexey Mamoshkin's reverse bobbled up and over Kumar Subramaniam.

Chances flew by at each end, with Leinster-based umpire Kris Cholewa letting the game flow well. Kelvinder Singh almost scoring one of the more outrageous 3d efforts before Tengku Abd stabbed home a corner rebound. Sergeev's drag-flick made it 3-3 in the 56th minute to raise Russian hopes once more but Faizal Saari smashed in from the top of the circle to kill the game and end Russia's chances. Malaysia top the group with three wins.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Malaysia remain unbeaten

MALAYSIA topped the Group B table on nine points, after they beat Russia 4-3 in the Champions Challenge II in Dublin, Ireland yesterday.
However, at press time, Poland and Ireland had to play in Group A, and Malaysia’s opponents in the last-four could not be determined.
Malaysia took a 2-0 lead in the first half with goals from Ismail Abu and Hafifi Hafiz.
Malaysia earned their first penalty corner in the eight minute, and Ismail deflected in a set-piece to take the lead.
And in the 29th minute, it was Hafifi’s turn to increase the lead off a field attempt.
But in their haste to score, Malaysia forgot to defend and were punished early in the second half.
Russia scored two quick goal in the second half, and drew level. However, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin made it 3-2 with another penalty corner set-piece in the 53rd minute, but the Russians equalised again.
The winner was scored by Junior World Cup player Faizal Shaari in the 66th minute.
“The defenders lost concentration in the second half, and an easy match became difficult. We did well to win all the pool matches, and the real test will be in the semi-finals,” said team manager George Koshy.

RESULTS: Group A: Japan 4 Chile 3, Poland 3 Ireland 2; Group B: Malaysia 4 Russia 3, Austria 1 France 5.


P W D L F A Pts
Poland 3 3 0 0 9 6 9
Ireland 3 2 0 1 8 3 6
Japan 3 1 0 2 6 9 3
Chile 3 0 0 3 5 10 0

P W D L F A Pts
Malaysia 3 3 0 0 11 7 9
France 3 2 0 1 12 8 6
Russia 3 0 1 2 10 13 1
Austria 3 0 1 2 7 12 1

SATURDAY: Semi-finals: Malaysia v Ireland (12 midnight Malaysian time), Poland v France.
Fifth-Eight: Japan v Austria, Russia v Chile.

Malaysia 4 France 2 (Pic: Adrian Boehm)

Ireland 3 Japan 0


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Champion's Challenge: Ireland 3 Japan 0

Group A: Ireland 3 (John Jermyn 2, Mikey Watt) Japan 0

What a difference a day makes. The indecision and individual errors that characterised Monday night’s match with Chile all but dissipated as Ireland eased into the semi-finals of the Champion’s Challenge II at Belfield last night.

The 3-0 score-line was the only similarity between the performance against tournament top seeds Japan and bottom ranked Chile as notice of a different outlook was served inside 15 seconds.

Mikey Watt burst into the Japanese circle with the ball flaring up to be batted home by John Jermyn though a whistle had blown for a free-out. Nonetheless, an infinitely more purposeful attitude saw Japan take over five minutes to get out of their half with the ball.

When the goals came, John Jermyn was once again tormentor in chief. Mitch Darling expertly won the first corner of the game - his first act after coming off the bench - in the 11th minute which the Corkonian duly zipped into the bottom left corner.

Seven minutes later he repeated the trick, maintaining Ireland’s 100pc record in the tournament from the set-piece.

Indeed, the home side’s danger from corners was not solely confined to their offensive efforts. The three conceded on the evening all led to fluid break-outs, the first of which made it 3-0 five minutes before the break.

Johnny Jackson stole the ball at the top of his own circle; Stephen Butler - Ireland's most experienced player at his bullish best, facing the side he made his debut against - added the forward impetus, sharing a pass with Watt, to create a three-on-three and eventually got the chance to shoot on his reverse.

In truth, the shot was miscued but Watt was alive to the chance and scrambled through Katsuya Takase’s legs. From Japan’s second penalty corner, a similar break-out fashioned a chance for Butler 80 metres from where Yuta Fukushiro mis-trapped.

The second half proved less productive as the inexperienced Japanese attempted a more aggressive press than their passive, half-court first period. It led to increased niggle with Naoto Shiokawa, Joe Brennan, Jermyn and Graham Shaw all seeing green cards.

With Jermyn subsequently substituted, three corner chances went without reward as Butler and Sothern both tried their luck to no avail. Timmy Cockram’s reverse cross escaped Alan Sothern’s slide while Eugene Magee stumbled slightly as he struck a breaking ball wide.

Japan rallied late on. Ryuti Furusato drew a point-blank save off David Harte’s foot. His skills also caused bedlam down the left end-line, leaving Ronan Gormley to probably take the best option of a clumsy foul to prevent a free shot with Harte scrambling to cover the vacant goal.

The ensuing drag-flick was dismissed with apparent disdain by the towering goalkeeper. He was caught out of position once but for the second day in a row Tim Lewis calmly cleared a potentially fraught situation and ensure a clean sheet.

Speaking afterwards, Irish coach Paul Revington was pleased his side’s performance had stepped up after a nervy first game, though he hoped for a couple more goals.

“It was a damn sight better than yesterday [against Chile]. This should be a standard performance. If we perform well we should be scoring five or six goals, in my opinion in games like this, but this is the kind of performance I expect.”

Poland were also confirmed as semi-final qualifiers due to this result combined with their 3-1 win over Chile. Thursday’s match will now solely decide semi-final seedings.

Group A standings (points/goal difference): 1. Ireland 6pts (+6) 2. Poland 6pts (+2) 3= Japan 0pts (-4) 3= Chile 0pts (-4)