Sunday, June 14, 2009

Malaysia play worst match


RESULTS -- Group E: Netherlands 3 Spain 0, Germany 3 Argentina 1; Group F: South Korea 3 New Zealand 3, Pakistan 1 Australia 6; Group G: Belgium 2 England 0, India 7 Japan 2; Group H: Egypt 2 South Africa 2, Malaysia 1 Poland 2; Group I: USA 4 Russia 3, Singapore 3 Chile 5.



(1st to 8th Placing)

P W D L F A Pts
Holland 1 1 0 0 3 0 3
Germany 1 1 0 0 3 1 3
Argentina 1 0 0 1 1 3 0
Spain 1 0 0 1 0 3 0

P W D L F A Pts
Australia 1 1 0 0 6 1 3
South Korea 1 0 1 0 3 3 1
New Zealand 1 0 1 0 3 3 1
Pakistan 1 0 0 1 1 6 0

(9th to 16th Placing)

P W D L F A Pts
India 1 1 0 0 7 2 3
Belgium 1 1 0 0 2 0 3
England 1 0 0 1 0 2 0
Japan 1 1 0 0 2 7 0

P W D L F A Pts
Poland 1 1 0 0 2 1 3
Egypt 1 0 1 0 2 2 1
South Africa 1 0 1 0 2 2 1
Malaysia 1 0 0 1 1 2 0

(17th to 20th Placing)

P W D L F A Pts
Chile 1 1 0 0 5 3 3
USA 1 1 0 0 4 3 3
Russia 1 0 0 1 3 4 0
Singapore 1 0 0 1 3 5 0

Team, Rajan needs backing

THE Malaysian juniors were a bunch of losers eight months ago but blossomed into a fighting outfit and will be remembered most for grabbing the Spanish bull by the horns in the Junior World Cup.
They started with a 1-0 win over England, lost 2-0 to South Korea, beat United States 5-2, and held European champions Spain 3-3 in a heart-stopper on Friday.

Solidly backed by a crowd of 6,000 in each match, it is a pity that Malaysia, despite having lost only one match, will be playing in the ninth-16th bracket in Group H with South Africa, Egypt and Poland.

For the record, Malaysia were in the same boat four years ago in Rotterdam, and lost the ninth-10th placing match against England.
"The phrase 'played their best game' does not hold water anymore, as my team failed to advance to the medal round. I am sad, but lets face reality -- the boys are better off now than eight months ago," said Malaysian coach K. Rajan.

How true, as even a month ago when they played in a four-nation, the boys were on the receiving end.

Rajan sees a good future in this set of players, but feels they need to be kept as a group, and monitored to bring the best out of them.

"There are a few players who will break into the senior ranks, but not many, as there is not much individual talent, but they play well as a team."

Malaysia have been placed in an easier classification group, and going by current form, should be able to top the group easily and then strive to finish ninth among 20 teams, which is not too bad considering the material Rajan had to work his magic.

Rajan, a Tenaga Nasional employee, will end his contract with the juniors in October, after which he will go back to his club side.

However, many feel that it would be a waste of talent, and experience, if Rajan is sent back to the shadows.

"He has proven himself by turning around a bunch of losers into an exciting outfit in eight months, and I feel he should be given the task of training our national Under-16 squad right after the Junior World Cup ends, that will give him four years to train the boys into winners for the next World Cup," said a senior MHF official who declined to be named, but who will bring the matter up with the coaching committee.

Lessons from Argentina

Argentina’s Santiago Miguel Montelli (left) and Martin Gabriel Gebhardt. — Pic: HAIRUL ANUAR ABD RAHIM

DEFENDING champions Argentina have placed themselves in contention to defend their title, and have an interesting story to tell the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) on how hockey should be developed in the country.

After they beat Egypt 3-1 in their last Group A match, coach Pablo Lombi brought along two of his players, and said: "Please interview these two boys, instead of me today."

He brought along skipper Martin Gabriel Gebhardt, 20, and Santiago Miguel Montelli, 21, to the press room.

The first question: So when did you guys start playing hockey?

And the answer was identical: "We started playing hockey when we were four years old, and are enjoying every moment of it."
Four years old?: "Yes, ever since I can remember, I have had a hockey stick in my hand when it is time to play, be it the playground or the hockey pitch," said Martin.

"My father played hockey at club level, and I tagged along, and he is the reason why I am playing in a World Cup today," said Santiago. Martin also attributed his father as his pillar.

Why hockey and not football?: "Football is nice to play, but it is difficult to become a footballer in Argentina, as they take you away from the age of 10 to 17 and place you in a camp where you train and play 365 days a year. It becomes boring as you lose contact with your friends, and growing up is no longer fun, as you can't do what other teenagers do," said Martin.

So the three lessons from these two boys are -- start as a toddler, parents must play a bigger role, and don't make hockey into a boring task.

The fourth lesson is play abroad at a young age, as Santiago plays in Belgium and Martin in Germany.

"In a way, my stint in Belgium opened many doors to improve my game and make me independent. I played for one season, and would love to go there again if given a chance," said Santiago.

In the 2005 Junior World Cup in Rotterdam, Netherlands, nobody gave any thought about Argentina when they arrived. They were called lucky when they advanced to the medal round but they proved everyone wrong by lifting the trophy.

And four years later, they still have many talented players to take them into the medal round, and the worst they can finish is number eight among 20 teams.

Malaysia can only finish, at the best, ninth and the MHF should look at the Argentina model first to get the grassroots movi