Sunday, March 29, 2009

BJSS within striking distance

BUKIT JALIL Sports School (BJSS) will get a chance to top the Division Two standings of the Malaysia Hockey League when they meet Malacca today.

Leaders Bandar Penawar Sports School (BPSS) have a rest day and BJSS, with six straight wins, will be playing a team which has lost three and drawn one match.
The imbalance is quite obvious, and with only five more matches to go before the league title is decided, BJSS coach S. Prakash is cautious.
"Nine of my players competed in the National Under-16 where they played seven matches in a row, and even after a few days rest, they could not perform well against Setapak High (on Friday, BJSS won 2-0).
"I hope they will fare much better against Malacca who have many Malaysia Games players," said Prakash.
The BJSS squad this year is made up of Under-17 players, but they have held on well against more experienced opponents in six matches.
"We don't want to burst the bubble at this stage, because at least three other teams are also in the running to claim the title, if we draw or lose."
TODAY -- Division Two: Bukit Jalil Sports School v Malacca (Tun Razak Stadium, 5pm), BJSS Juniors v Kijang Mas (Tun Razak Stadium, 7pm), Anderson v BPSS Juniors (Azlan Shah Stadium, 5pm), Tenaga Nasional v Olak (KLHA Stadium 5pm).
Division Three: Matri v Selangor (Kangar, 5pm), TBSS- Tampin v Penang (Tampin, 5pm), English College v Perlis (Johor Baru, 5pm), Temerloh v Kuala Selangor (Kuantan, 5pm).
Monday -- Division Three: Nur Insafi v Selangor (Sungai Petani, 3pm).

For the country....

By Tai Beng Hai
(The writer is Malaysian hockey chief coach)

I BELIEVE in my players, and they believe in me, and together, we are giving our best to elevate the standard of Malaysian hockey at the international level.

The training regime has been tough, as my team of coaches and I have been pushing them to the maximum for the past three months, and the plus point is that instead of complaining, my players took up the challenge to improve.
The wake-up call is at the break of dawn, 6am, and we start by building stamina with a variety of training drills. The results are there for all to see, as the National Sports Institute records have shown a marked improvement in every player after only three months.
Right now, fitness is no longer a worry for me, as the boys showed when we played seven matches in South Korea recently.
We played three matches in a row, took a two-day break, and then another four matches in a row and there was a very little drop in standard as all the players could keep their normal pace.
Time was what I did not have when I was offered to coach the team in January, as the Azlan Shah Cup and Asia Cup were just a few months away.
But I took up the challenge because my passion is hockey, as I enjoyed every moment of my life when I was donning the national jersey.
And there has been no looking over my shoulders to see if a foreign coach will be appointed to replace me, as this set of players, who I had trained as juniors when I was assistant to Sarjit Singh for the 2004 Junior World Cup, are among the best I have seen so far.
In fact they remind me of my teammates in dedication and commitment.
Right now, the team are eager to prove themselves in the Azlan Shah Cup as they have not played in a tournament for a long time.
Our trip to South Korea (where the team won three, drew two and lost two matches), was a refreshing change as I saw promise in many players who have been merely floating before.
We played against university sides which had many Korean national players, and I returned home with a better understanding about my team. Some of the players performed better in different positions and this, I believe, will be an asset in the next two important assignments.
The Azlan Shah Cup will be a great chance for the team to impress, and start their climb back into the respectable hockey playing nations' bracket. We are Number 15 today, but I believe the ranking does not reflect the true capabilities of this set of players.
I believe in my players, even though only Egypt (No 21) are ranked below us in the Azlan Shah Cup, while New Zealand (No 7), Pakistan (No 8) and India (No 10) are above, my players are eager to show results, and the tournament will be an exciting one, as we are looking at a podium finish.
After that, there will be a final push for the Asia Cup, and everybody knows the score -- it will be difficult to win the title and qualify for the (2010) World Cup but not impossible -- and like every other aspirant, we will give our best.