Monday, January 12, 2009

WAIS lesson for Juniors

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

Fitness on the rise

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

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