Thursday, January 15, 2009

Juniors lose 2-1 to Australia

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


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

MHF invite Spain and South Africa

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

Costly last five seconds...

By Ajitpal Singh

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

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