Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tenaga want to keep TNB Cup

FRIDAY: Final -- Sapura v Tenaga Nasional (8.30pm); Third- Fourth: Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club v Maybank (6.30pm).
Both matches at the Tun Razak Stadium, and telecast live on Astro.

TENAGA Nasional will be banking on their Fort Knox defense when they attempt to snatch the TNB Cup from the jaws of a vastly improved Sapura today.

And skipper Tajol Rosli was all smiles when he said he will only be carrying half half the weight, midfield onwards, as he has the best defenders in the country.
Goalkeeper S. Kumar, and defenders Madzli Ikmar, Amin Rahim and Baljit Singh have an almost perfect under standing, as they have played together against the best in the world in numerous internationals.
“We were unlucky not to land the League title due to a handful of mistakes at the back, but overall, my defenders know what to do, and I stay away from that department.
“I will only have to concentrate on how to help take the ball from midfield into the opponents semi-circle, and then look for penalty corners and Amin Rahim will do the rest,” said Tenaga skipper Tajol.
Sallehin Ghani was the chosen one with the armband, but he picked up an injury in their last league match, and is out for the season.
Tajol was propelled into the lime light in the knock-out stages, and he did well to rally his side in the quarters and semis.
“We are confident, but not overconfident, that our TNB Cup will be displayed at the Kilat Club from Saturday onwards,” said the 28-year-old former national player who has been with Tenaga for the past 11 years.
And in midfield Tajol has seasoned M. Kaliswaran, 34, another Tenaga stalwart and former national player, who has become one of the best club player in the country.
“Kalis can always be relied upon and has become a really cool player with a matured mind. His passes are almost accurate and I believe he will make an impact in the final,” said Tajol.
On the youth side, Tenaga have the talented and upcoming Faizal Saari, who delivered eight goals in the last Junior World Cup.
Faizal, 19, Mohamed Noor Hafiq, 20, Shazril Irwan, 17, are some of Tenaga’s young legs which are expected to run-down Sapura’s defenders.
TENAGA NASIONAL: S. Kumar (Gk), Fairus Wanazir (Gk), Madzli Ikmar, Baljit Singh, Mawardi Samad, Shazril Irwan, Nor Hafiq Ghaffar, Sallehin Ghani, Zaharin Zakariah, Anwar Ali, Tajol Rosli, S. Selvaraju, M. Kaliswaran, S. Bubalan, Faizal Saari, Fairuz Ramli, Fikri Bassar, Jamil Saidin, Izwan Firdaus, Amin Rahim.

Sapura have a plan

SAPURA will again bank on the experience of their skipper S. Kuhan to marshal the defense, and also deliver killer blows when presented with penalty corners in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division TNB Cup final at the Tun Razak Stadium today.
Kuhan, a former national skipper, has scored nine goals off penalty corners and has a nagging feeling that he will deliver yet again.
“Penalty corners could well decide which team lifts the TNB Cup tomorrow (today) because I have scored nine goals, while Tenaga’s Amin (Rahim) is the top-scorer with 14 penalty corner goals.
“It will not be easy, as we lost twice to Tenaga in the League, but my team-mates and I are confident we will not be third time unlucky,” said Kuhan.
Tenaga Nasional beat Sapura 3-1 in the Charity Shield, and then 2-1 in the second League match in Johor Baru.
And Amin was on target twice during both the matches.
Kuhan, who did not score against Tenaga this season, is wary of their first runner Baljit Singh and goalkeeper S. Kumar.
“Tenaga have the beat national defenders with them, and Baljit is such a fast runner that he is on your nose before you can attempt to lift the ball.
“And then even if we try a set-piece, Kumar has been and will be difficult to beat,” said Kuhan.
Kuhan and Kumar, team-mates when on national duty, have an excellent understanding on each other’s weakness and strengths as both have practiced flicking and stopping thousands of balls over the years.
Sapura, according to Kuhan, have a sound game-plan to deny Tenaga glory.
“Just like we planned both the semi-final matches against KLHC (Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club), our coaches also have a good plan lined-up to frustrate Tenaga. And if my players keep their cool and patience, we will be celebrating after the final whistle tomorrow (today),” said Kuhan.
SAPURA: Nasihin Nubli (Gk), Ahmad Bazli (GK), Rod hanizam Radzi, Nishel Kumar, M. Vizayan, Marhan Jalil, Ahmad Kazamirul, Adnan Mustafa, Redzuan Ponirin, Jiwa Mohan, Noor Khairul Azrain, Faizal Kamarudin, Hafiz Za karia, Razi Ismail, Jivan Mohan, Azreen Rizal, G. Sasitheran, S. Shanker, Norhanafpe Omar, Mahinder Singh, Redza Maadun, S. Kuhan.

NSTP sink MISC in League battle

NEW Straits Timess Press (NSTP) lifted the Kuala Lumpur HA Division One League title when they dethroned Malaysia International Shipping Corporation (MISC) 2-1 at the KLHA Stadium on Wednesday.
P. Prabahkaran drew first blood for NSTP with a field goal in the 47th minute while Medrianto Zakaria made it 2-0 with a penalty corner goal in the 55th minute.
MISC made a late surge, but could only score one late goal in the 67th minute when Mohamed Noor Khairul was on target off a penalty corner attempt.
The prizes were given away by Press secretary to the Prime Minister Datuk Tengku Sharifuddin Tengku Ahmad.
ROLL-OF-HONOUR: Top Scorer: Medrianto Zakaria (NSTP 20 goals); Man-of-the-Match: I. Vickneswaran ( NSTP); Best player: Razali Yahya (Sunday 2030); Best Goalkeeper: Amiruddin Zainudin (Bukit Jalil).

England admit India World Cup safety fears

“If we need to pull out, we will pull out" said Performance director David Faulkner

By Pranav Soneji

England are still seeking assurances that their safety will not be compromised during next month's Hockey World Cup in India.
The European champions are among 12 teams competing in Delhi, the host for the Commonwealth Games later this year.
"We're happy to travel, but I'd like to see more consideration three weeks before the tournament," England Hockey chief David Faulkner told BBC Sport.
"I'm still waiting for guarantees of what's going to be put into place."
England's badminton team withdrew from the world championships in India last year because of terrorist threats.
England's hockey players are scheduled to play Australia on the opening day of the World Cup on 28 February.
Performance director Faulkner, a member of Great Britain's gold medal-winning team from the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, is still waiting for security details of the team's hotel and transportation as well as the World Cup venues.
"One of the annoying things for us is the security thing gets in the way of that, it takes away the excitement
England" captain Barry Middleton
"I'd hope to see a better understanding and consideration given to some of the participating teams, particularly the Commonwealth countries who have troops in Afghanistan and have an identity in that area in the world," he said referring to Britain's 9,000 troop deployment.
"We have to ensure there is no distraction when they land in Delhi."
Should intelligence suggest an imminent risk to his team, Faulkner said he would have no hesitation in withdrawing from the tournament.
"If, for any reason, intelligence reaches us direct or indirect, we have a decision-making process to deal with it. If we need to pull out, we will pull out," he confirmed.
Faulkner has been contact with the British High Commission in India over security planning and has consulted other sporting bodies with recent experience of travelling to India.
They include county cricket sides Somerset and Sussex, who both competed in the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 tournament in October, as well as other Olympic sports such as badminton.
And England captain Barry Middleton, who lifted the EuroHockey Nations title in August last year following a shock 5-3 win over Germany in the Netherlands in August last year, fears the off-field distractions will detract from the thrill of playing in front of huge crowds.
"It's one of the most exciting tournaments we'll ever play, it's going to have a totally different atmosphere than most of us have never seen," said the Doncaster-born midfielder.
"One of the annoying things for us is the security thing gets in the way of that, it takes away the excitement."
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website advises visits carry a "general and high threat from terrorism throughout India".
“If we need to pull out, we will pull out" said Performance director David Faulkner
The eight-strong England badminton squad pulled out of last August's world championships in Hyderabad after reports of threats by Muslim extremists Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based organisation fighting against Indian control in Kashmir.
It has been blamed for several terrorist incidents in India including the October 2005 bomb attacks in Delhi, which saw 60 people killed, and is alleged to have played a part in the armed raid on the Indian parliament in December 2001.
The group was also linked with the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008, which killed at least 188 people.
Head coach Jason Lee's team, who finished fifth in the 2006 World Cup in Monchengladbach, are ranked sixth in the world but have targeted at least a semi-final berth.


Warning: No entry for Media

It seems the Sports Authority of India that owns the National Stadium, venue of the World Cup, is not ready to throw open its premises either for public or for media in the immediate future.
Citing security reasons, the stadium has now become a fortress. Today, Indian team will be playing a practice match against Bharat Petroleum at 20.00 hours under floodlights. But no one is allowed to witness.
On contacted, Pravir Krishna, Joint Secretary, now posted at the Sports Authority of India, who deals hockey affairs, said, "It is a practice match, media is not allowed".
At the first instance, he feined ignorance on querried whether journalists are allowed for the match today. When informed about the match, he acknowledged it but said curtly, "the match is part of practice and it is between the team concerned. No media is allowed".
This matter was brought to the knowledge of a Hockey India official. He expressed sympathy and quoted frequent visit of Security experts from UK and Australia, among other things, are causing concern for the security agencies. "They are strict, they won't allow media today. We are surprised even as South Africa team is playing test matches here, what is the problem for hockey?"
He has been requested to take up the matter with concerned authorities and a media policy be formed the quicker the better.
Anupam Ghulati, who looks after the media matters in HI, assured of follow up with SAI authorities. If HI seems to be in control of things, it should do something in this vital matter before it goes out of hand, and mere expression of surprise and sympathy won't do for long.
It is a collective responsibility of SAI, HI, even FIH, to see media is not put into unnecessary troubles.
A good coverage of the events leading to the World Cup is a must for the climax to be built around the event when it starts two and half weeks later.
Meanwhile, the opportunity to witness today's match is almost not there for many of us.


Chua keen to make a comeback

CHUA Boon Huat is keen to make a comeback to the national hockey team.
Boon Huat, who was dropped from last year’s World Cup qualifier in New Zealand after 11 years of service, feels he can contribute to the national team in gaining international success.
“It is always an honour to play for the national side and I will definitely comeback if selected,” said Boon Huat, who has earned 306 caps since making his international debut in 1998, in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“Hockey is still very much in my blood. I have a few more good years in my game.
“I was dropped from the World Cup qualifier as coach (Tai Beng Hai) felt I could not adapt to his system of play. However, I want to work my way back into the national team.
Boon Huat’s experience will definitely be an added ad vantage to the national team, who are gearing up for the Commonwealth and Asian Games.
On Stephen van Huizen return as one of the national coaches, Boon Huat said his experience will be vital to the team ahead of important assignments.
“I played under him years ago and he is a good coach. It will be nice to work with him again if I am given a chance,” said the Malacca-born forward.
The 30-year-old recommended that local players should venture into top European leagues.
“A player gets to learn new things. I am talking through experience as I played for several foreign clubs before,” added Boon Huat, who had stints with four foreign clubs previously.

Stop the culling of players, officials

COMMENT By Jugjet Singh

ONE would expect hockey to be the main topic when a group of coaches, managers, officials and ardent fans met recently over a few drinks.
Initially, the conversation did centre around hockey, par ticularly the Malaysia Hockey League semi-finals, but one official cut short the animated discussion and said we were wasting our time flogging a dead horse.
There was silence for a moment, and the discussion turned to politics, but after a few minutes, it came back to hockey, naturally.
And it flew in every direction, but particularly interesting read for the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) top-brass would be how certain young and talented players, dedicated coaches and officials are being slowly, but systematically culled from the sport.
One example, said a member of the round-table ad-hock panel, was when a player who was named as the Most Promising player in a world class tournament in 2005, and then turned out to be No 1 when a fitness test was conducted, was selected for an important assignment, but he was sidelined and warmed the bench most of the time.
Just because he was not liked by a certain person.
Then there was another player, also the best in his position, was kept in the shades during the Asia Cup in Kuantan where Malaysia finished fourth, and South Korea qualified for the New Delhi World Cup.
Again, it was because of personal dislike.
Malaysia received a second chance in the New Zealand World Cup Qualifiers, and even made it to the final against the hosts, but certain players were again sidelined and even though Malaysia took the lead, they went on to lose the New Delhi ticket 2-1 to the Kiwis.
This time, racism crept into the picture.
And this problem has now crept into the club structure, and the learned round table panel, who have their ears next to the players mouths most of the time, confirmed that one club might suffer an exodus next season, as players feel they will be appreciated more elsewhere, and given more playing time.
The culling, they said, was being done by certain coaches and officials, so the MHF council must be careful this group does not get their way when MHF endorse coaches named by their coaching committee last week.
The coaching committee named Tai Beng Hai and Stephen van Huizen for the senior side, K. Rajan, K. Dharmaraj and Rashid Maidin for the Junior World Cup squad, and S. Prakash and S. Valappan for the under-16 outfit.
These names will reach the management committee on Wednesday and then the council for endorsement, but already, some state officials are said to have started a lobby to include other names, and delete some that were rec ommended by the coaching committee.
Needless to say, the coaching committee has been a rubber-stamp when it came to naming coaches for decades, but it was learnt, at the highly charged discussion, that this time is will be different.
The committee voted on certain coaches when there was disagreement, and came up with the best available in the country, and said they will stand by their decision no matter what happened.
For a chance, there seem to be some change in attitude among those who have been taken for granted for far too long, and it looks like if the right coaches are placed at the right spots, the victimising of players will also become a thing of the past.
At this stage, it was again suggested that the topic of discussion be changed to something less depressing, and again there was silence for a few minutes.
But having hockey instead of blood in their veins, the agenda again shifted and in parting, one observer said he hoped when the foreign coach is finally appointed to oversee the senior side, he will have the final say in selecting and naming the best in the country, and meddling officials are not allowed to muscle in their favourite players.
Then, only then, will there be a winning change.