Thursday, February 26, 2009

Anderson better prepared

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

Beng Hai gets early support

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

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

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

Old Boys behind TBSS' resurgence

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

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