Friday, September 4, 2009

China trip shaky

THE trip to China is on the verge of being shelved, as the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) plans for a Three-Nation in October instead, to prepare for the World Cup Qualifier.
Malaysia will play in New Zealand, and with China also in the same group, the MHF felt it would be foolish to spar with them.
“The joint management meeting with National Sports Council (which was held on Thursday) decided that the team should play at home and we have chosen Australia and South Korea as possible sparring partners.
“The trip to China was decided before we knew the Qualifier grouping, but now, it would be too risky to play with a team who are also in the same group,” said team manager George Koshy.
However, the final decision will be made by MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
“A report will be sent to Tengku Abdullah, and he will have the final say on weather we travel to China, or play other teams in Malaysia,” said George.
China held Malaysia to a 3-3 draw, before winning on penalty strokes in the Asia Cup in Kuantan, and will be among the challengers in New Zealand.
Then, there is a precedent for Malaysia to be wary of, as just before the World Cup Qualifier in Changzhou, China in 2006, MHF hosted France to a series of friendlies at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, and it turned out to be a bad idea.
In the friendlies, Malaysia hammered France, but in the Qualifier, France beat Malaysia 4-1 — even though Malaysia were 13th in the world and the French 18th.
The others in Malaysia’s World Cup Qualifier group are Scotland, Wales and Austria.
“We have also been travelling extensively in our preparations and it was felt that playing at home will be much better.”
Malaysia have a slim chance of winning the round-robin format, as their record against European teams — even those ranked much lower — is worrying.
The 4-4 draw with Italy in the Olympic Qualifier in Japan last year, and then the poor form in the Champions Challenge II against Ireland, are classic examples.

Project boyz for Sea Cup

THE Project 2013 squad will represent Malaysia in the South East Asia hockey tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, on Sept 29-Oct 5.
The Under-18 boys will play against senior teams from Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore in the tournament as the Sea Games hosts Laos do not have facilities for hockey.
“We decided to sent the Project squad instead of the senior side because it will effect their preparations for the World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand,” said Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary Hashim Yusoff.
And Project 2013 coach K. Dharmaraj feels his charges should not have any problems playing against South East Asian teams.
“The team showed maturity when they played in the Razak Cup and I believe playing against Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore will be good for them,” said Dharmaraj.
The Project boys will travel to Banglore, India on Sunday to play six friendlies as a warm-up for the Junior Asia Cup in November.
Meanwhile, The senior team will be heading for China at the end of September to play a few friendlies against Australia A and the hosts to prepare for the World Cup Qualifier.
In the Qualifier, Malaysia, Scotland, China, Austria, New Zealand and Wales will play in a Round-Robbin tournament where the winner qualifiers for the World Cup in New Delhi.

Hockey or soccer?

Merion Mercy's Carly Keating has the ball as she moves upfield in a scrimmage against Episcopal Academy. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer.

By Don Beideman

Inquirer Staff Writer
It won't take effect until next year, but field hockey coaches in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, where girls' soccer has traditionally been played in the spring, are wondering what impact the PIAA's decision to hold only a fall state soccer championship will have on their sport.
For several years, the PIAA has conducted both spring and fall state playoffs, allowing girls at those schools at which soccer is played in the spring to play both sports. Now, those girls playing both sports will have to make a choice.
Schools in Chester and Delaware Counties have traditionally played girls' soccer in the fall.
"We knew this was coming, but it was not always a reality. Now it is," said Lisa Pennington, who was forced to step down this season as coach of Neshaminy's highly successful field hockey program because of a promotion she received in the school district.
"We have a solid program here, so we're hoping it won't effect us that much," she said. "The kids are going to have to make a choice. We're hoping those involved in field hockey will continue to stay with it."
Pennington said that Chelsea Rota, one of her top players last season when the Redskins won the District 1 Class AAA title, was also an outstanding soccer player.
"She would have had to make a choice next year," Pennington said.
Neshaminy is one of the larger schools in the Suburban One League, so it doesn't figure to be impacted as much as some of the smaller schools.
"We have several soccer players, and I'm hoping they'll stick with field hockey," said coach Lucy Gil of Wissahickon, a member of the Suburban One League's American Conference, for the smallest schools.
Gil said that since many girls have been playing soccer longer than field hockey, she thinks they will choose soccer.
"We've talked about the PIAA decision. I'm sad that it's happening," Gill said. "Personally, I think field hockey will suffer because it's a more difficult sport to pick up."
One of Gil's top players, sophomore Lauren Becker, is also a top-notch soccer player, so she will be among those making a decision.
"I've been thinking a lot about it because I like playing both sports," said Becker, who plays for prominent club teams in each sport as well as for her high school teams.
No matter what sport she plays, she's hoping to play at the Division I level in college.
"She's been very lucky because her club team coaches, Jeff Harding in field hockey and Dave Jones in soccer, have been very understanding," said Becker's mother, Lisa, a principal at Pennsbury and former field hockey coach. "The demands are heavy. It's her decision. We haven't tried to influence her one way or the other."
Hatboro-Horsham field hockey coach Marie Schmucker, who is returning this year after taking time off for cancer treatments, doesn't see a big effect on her team. The Hatters are members of the Suburban One League's Continental Conference, for midsized schools.
"It was just a matter of time before they switched to one [soccer] championship. I see more and more field hockey players doing lacrosse in the spring," Schmucker said. "We'll have to wait and see what happens. It is what it is. I've learned not to sweat the small stuff."

Dutch women, German men the best

TOP OF THE WORLD: Dutch Ladies Have Every Reason to Smile.

With the conclusion of the EuroHockey Nations Championships and the Oceania Cup, the Intrernational Hockey Federation (FIH) published the new ABN AMRO World Rankings. The men’s team of Germany and the women’s team of Netherlands are still the leaders.