Friday, May 15, 2009

India score five for fifth

Final: Pakistan v South Korea.
Third-Fourth: Malaysia v China.
(Both Matches 16-05-09)
Fifth-Sixth: India 5 Japan 1
Seventh: Bangladesh.

Sports Schools' showdown

BUKIT Jalil and Bandar Penawar Sports Schools will renew their rivalry when they clash in Division One of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

BJSS clinched the double in Division Two of the MHL, while BPSS played bridesmaid on both occasions. Eleven teams were supposed to be on the starting block, but Border Rangers Club have pulled out forcing the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) to redraw the fixtures.
"Border Rangers did not give a reason for their withdrawal and we were caught in a bind as we had already prepared the fixtures. So now, 10 teams will compete in Division One, and the champion will be promoted to the Premier League which starts in October," said MHF assistant secretary N. Krishnan.
Division One will have BJSS, BPSS, Universiti Malaysia Perlis (Unimap), UiTM, Ipoh City Council, Malacca City Council, Dolphins, Air Force, ATM Airod and ATM Juniors.
BJSS, despite featuring a fourth time in the senior league, have not set any targets. "We will field 13 Under-16 boys so they will be better prepared when we play in next year's Under-19 MHL," said BJSS coach S. Prakash.
And BJSS are prepared for the worst against BPSS in the curtain raiser. "We did not have much training after the Under-19 tournament as the boys were busy with exams. So, I expect a tough time as BPSS would be out to avenge their defeat in the Overall final," Prakash added.
FIXTURES -- Today: Bukit Jalil Sports School v Bandar Penawar Sports School (National Stadium Pitch II, 3pm), Malacca City Council v Dolphins (Malacca Stadium, 5pm), Armed Forces Juniors v UNIMAP (Tun Razak Stadium, 5pm), Armed Forces Airod v Air Force (Tun Razak Stadium, 7pm).

Jiwa: Play abroad

JIWA Mohan, recalled to represent Malaysia in the Asia Cup currently being played in Kuantan, strongly feels that the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) is no longer competitive and is not the platform for local players to improve their game.

He feels players should make a genuine effort to ply their trade in the top tier leagues of world hockey to make progress.
Though several players have had short sojourns with top clubs in Europe, it did little to improve their game, and Jiwa feels local players, if given the chance, should play full-time abroad.
"The top European leagues are very challenging and that is why European teams are dominating the game now," said Jiwa.
"A player who goes there for the long term will definitely improve. The Koreans have done it and look where they stand now. They are strong in character, have depth and they learnt this by playing in top leagues," added Jiwa.
"Malaysian players should try their luck abroad, maybe in the Dutch or German leagues as this is where all the top players are in.
"We need to revolutionise the way we think about hockey. We cannot remain at home thinking it would be enough to take Malaysian hockey to another level. Players should base themselves with the top leagues and only come back whenever there are international assignments.
"Several Asian players are doing this now and because of this their respective countries are progressing in the sport. The Dutch and German leagues offer a competitive edge because of their professional set-ups and also most of the players over there are world class."
It is a fact that only clubs with national players and ex-internationals dominate the MHL while the remaining teams just make up the numbers.
Jiwa, who quit the national team last year and is now based in Perth, was recalled by national coach Tai Beng Hai to beef up the midfield and to give the team more penalty corner options.
In Australia, Jiwa represented Curtin Trinity Pirates Club in the Perth League last year and scored 12 goals in 12 matches, earning himself a place in the Northern Territory Stingers team in the Australian Hockey League.
Jiwa said there are about 100,000 active players in the very competitive Australian league.
"I have improved a lot from playing in the league. It has made me a better player but I'm just doing it for the love of the game. Even so, many of the Australian players ply their trade in the Dutch and German leagues," he added.

Malaysian dream shattered

Double act:Pakistan's Rehan butt (on the ground) celebrates after scoring against Malaysia in the Asia Cup semi-finals Thursday.Inset:The Malaysian players celebrating after taking a 1-0 lead.-AP-bernama

By Ajitpal Singh

PAKISTAN must thank their stand-in coach Shahid Ali Khan for their 4-2 victory over Malaysia in the semi-finals of the 8th AirAsia Men's Asia Cup at the Wisma Belia Stadium in Kuantan yesterday.

Shahid, who was the Malaysia goalkeeper coach between 2005-2008, used his technical know-how to pull off this well-calculated victory.
"It was an advantage for me as I know the Malaysian structure well. I know the Malaysian players' strong points and weaknesses and it helped me to execute the right strategies in this match.
"They are rather weak on the flanks and it made the difference," said Shahid in Kuantan yesterday.
In tomorrow's final, Pakistan will face South Korea, who thrashed China 5-1 in the last four. The winners will gain automatic qualification to next year's World Cup in New Delhi.
National interim coach Tai Beng Hai was quite happy with his players' performance though they failed to reach the final.
"My boys' tried very hard and I'm not disappointed. We matched Pakistan but luck was not on our side. Pakistan were much fresher as they had rested since Sunday but my boys only had a day's rest," said Beng Hai.
Malaysia took the lead from a quick counter attack after poor execution by Pakistan during a penalty corner in the third minute. Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Jalil who left several Pakistan defenders trailing, was fouled just outside the semicircle. He quickly laid a clever pass to Ismail Abu who finished with a reverse stick goal.
Pakistan were rattled and the combination of Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Ismail Abu caught their defence off guard on several occasions after the goal. But the Malaysians were wasteful with their shots.
Pakistan tried to step up their pace and they were rewarded when Rehan Butt deflected Haseem Khan's cross from the right flank for the equaliser in the 18th minute.
The Malaysian defence fell apart soon after with Pakistan creating three scoring opportunities but keeper S. Kumar was up for the challenge.
Rehan was a menace to the Malaysians with his darting runs and he turned provider when his cross from the right flank found Akhtar Ali, who easily rammed the ball home in the 46th minute.
Rehan scored his second goal with a nicely taken field attempt in the 63rd minute and Haseem Khan put the result beyond doubt with Pakistan's fourth goal two minutes later.
Ismail Abu got a consolation goal for Malaysia with a penalty corner effort in the last minute.
Meanwhile, South Korea turned in a superb second half performance to beat China 5-1 to qualify for their second successive Asia Cup final.
You Hyo Sik was the star of the Korean team when he scored a hattrick with three fine solo attempts in the 36th, 41st and 68th minutes.