Friday, April 3, 2009

Malaysia win warm-up

FILE PIC: Pakistan's Waqas Sharif (L) is challenged by Malaysia's Chua Boon Huat during their Hockey Champions Trophy match in Kuala Lumpur December 3, 2007.

MALAYSIA beat New Zealand 2-0 in a warm-up at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh yesterday, and trimmed the Azlan Shah Cup squad to the final 18.
There were no major surprises, as goalkeeper Fairul Wanasir, defender Megat Azrafiq and forwards Herwan Pami and Fekri Basaar were dropped after the final selection.
Malaysia will be up against New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Egypt in the Azlan Shah Cup from April 5-12.
Yesterday, Amin Rahim gave Malaysia the lead in the 10th minute off a penalty corner attempt, while Chua Boon Huat scored the second in the 18th minute, and the two goals were enough to win the friendly.
“I got the feeling that New Zealand were still acclimatising when they played us today (yesterday) and the heat (9am) was too much for them.
“However, the result is a good boost, as this is our last training match before we play in the tournament,” said national chief coach Tai Beng Hai.
The squad: Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Khairul Nizam Ibrahim; Defenders: Amin Rahim, Madzli Ikmar (capt), Sukri Mutalib, Engku Malik, Baljit Singh Sarjab, Baljit Singh Charun.
Midfielders: Shahrun Nabil, Jivan Mohan, Kelvinder Singh, Nabil Fiqri, Azlan Misron; Forwards: S. Selvaraju, Ismail Abu, Chua Boon Huat, Hafifi Hafiz, Amerullah Aziz.
FIXTURES: April 5 -- Egypt v India (5pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (7pm); April 6: New Zealand v Pakistan (5pm), Malaysia v Egypt (7pm).
April 7: REST DAY.
April 8: Egypt v New Zealand (5pm), India v Malaysia (7pm); April 9: New Zealand v India (5pm), Pakistan v Egypt (7pm).
April 10: REST DAY.
April 11: India v Pakistan (5pm), New Zealand v Malaysia (7pm); April 12: Third-Fourth (4.30pm), Final: (7pm).

Watch out for the Kiwis

The Black Sticks after winning the Beijing Olympics Qualfiying Tournament.

AFP -- World number seven New Zealand are the early favourites to win the five-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which starts in Malaysia on Sunday.
The 1976 Montreal Olympic champions are the highest-ranked team in the tournament, which has suffered from the absence of top hockey-playing countries like Germany, Australia and Holland.
Malaysia, India, Pakistan and debutants Egypt join the Kiwis at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh, the capital of northern Perak state, for the invitation event.
New Zealand’s new coach Shane Mcleod will be looking to build a team for the World Cup qualifiers in Auckland in November.
His squad includes newcomers and national juniors Arun Panchia from Auckland and Isaac Staples from Canterbury, and is bolstered by Olympians Kyle Pontifex, Blair Hopping, Dave Kosoof and Ben Collier, who will add experience to an otherwise raw team.
A number of key names are missing from the squad, including Ryan Archibald, Hayden Shaw, Phil Burrows, Simon Child, Brad Shaw and Shea McAleese.
Despite this lack of depth, the Kiwis, who will be playing in the tournament for the ninth time, are still expected to take the honours.
Eighth-ranked Pakistan and neighbours India, tenth, also loom as potential finalists.
India coach Harender Singh says the Sultan Azlan Shah this year will be a testing ground for teams wanting to give their youngsters a chance to break into the senior team.
“For the Asian teams the priority is the Asia Cup in May. This is just a testing ground,” he said.
“I do not think we should expect any great performances. The absence of the top teams will surely affect the quality of the meet. But it still has its uses and we hope to do well,” he said.
Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan will be making his debut in the top job and said the tournament offers him a chance to lay the ground for May.
“We have a young side and this is by no means our final team for the Asia Cup,” he said.
“I want to give the younger players the chance to shine and earn a place in the team. New Zealand and India should be the teams to watch for.
“For us the objective is not the results but the exposure,” he added.
Hosts Malaysia, ranked 15th, will be hoping for a better result after finishing last in 2008, and, say observers, should not be discounted from the final equation.
Like the Kiwis and the Pakistanis, the Malaysians also have a new coach in Tai Beng Hai.
The week-long tournament will start on April 5, with the finals on April 12. Argentina won the hockey event last year.