Friday, March 18, 2011

Stroke of luck might decide

KUALA Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) will be hoping to break their TNB Cup jinx when they play Sapura in the final of the Malaysia Hockey League at the Tun Razak Stadium today.
KLHC have been very unlucky in the knock-out stages, and have only one 2008 Overall title to show after playing five times in the final.
However, they have five League titles in their collection.
“We have been unlucky in many of the Overall finals, and lost two on penalty shoot-outs. The irony of it is that we trained for one week on penalty strokes on both occasions , and even nominated the five players who will take it. But we lost in both finals.
“But in 2008, we did not train for penalties at all, and I only asked around who wanted to take the flick after the extra- time.
“And we won the shoot out. That is what I am not going to think about the match going into penalties to decide the outcome,” said Dharmaraj.
Playing under the banner of Ernst and Young in 2006, they lost 3-4 to Sapura on penalties after extra time failed to resolve a 1-1 deadlock.
And against Tenaga Nasional the 2007 final, the match ended 2-2 after extra time. In the shoot out, Ernst and Young were beaten 2-3.
However, Ernst and Young finally won their elusive Overall title in 2008 when they beat Sapura 6-5 on penalties after the match ended 2-2.
As for Sapura, they are masters in slowing down the match, and this would surely break the rhythm of speedy KLHC forwards.
“I have some experienced players who can hold the match when we need to, and against a fast forward-line like KLHC, we might need to do it more often than other matches,” said Sapura coach I. Vickneswaran.
Sapura lost both their league matches 3-0 and 6-2 to KLHC, but that was when they were in a transformation period.
“The team were slow to start in the League as we relied on individual players.
“However, in the knock-out stage, the players finally clicked as a team and this is the effort which took us into the final over more fancied opponents,” said Vickneswaran.
The match is expected to be explosive, and penalty cor ners, not penalty strokes, could well decide the new Overall champion.
PAST WINNERS (League, and Overall): 1987 RMR, Kilat; 1988 UAB, Maybank; 1989 RMR, Kilat; 1990 Kilat, Maybank; 1991-92 Kilat, Kilat; 1992-93 YNS, MBf; 1994 Maybank, Maybank; 1995 Maybank, YNS; 1996 YNS, YNS; 1997 MPPJ, MPPJ; 1998 no tournament due to Commonwealth Games; 1999 BSN, BSN; 2000-01 Tenaga, BSN; 2002 Tenaga, BSN;
2003 Tenaga, Tenaga; 2004 Sapura, Tenaga; 2005 Sapura, Sapura; 2006 Ernst & Young, Sapura; 2007 Ernst & Young, Tenaga Nasional; 2008 Ernst & Young, Ernst & Young; 2009/10 KL Hockey Club, Tenaga Nasional; 2010/11 KL Hockey Club.

Kuala Lumpur good for fourth

KUALA Lumpur will be gunning for their fourth consecutive National Under-16 title when they play Kelantan at the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium today.
In the other semis is Perak, who were finalists the last three season, and a strong Malacca side.
The tournament also serves as a selection ground to pick 50 budding players for the National Under-16 side who have two assignments this year.
They will be coached by former International Lim Chiow Chuan for the qualifying rounds of the Tun Razak Cup in April and May before competing in a Four-Nation Invitational in Manheim, Germany from 10-13 June, 2011.
The other three countries in the fray are Germany, Holland and Belgium.
Chiow Chuan has been a regular fixture at the stadium, and said he already has almost all the 50 players in mind.
“Only two teams, Perak and Kuala Lumpur, have shown good overall performance in the tournament while the other teams only have a few good players to carry them.
“I have almost finalised the 50 trainees, and they will be notified soon,” said Chiow Chuan.
Kuala Lumpur are the hot favourites for the title, while the Perak and Malacca match could either way.
TODAY: Semi-finals -- Kuala Lumpur v Kelantan (KLHA Stadium, 3.30pm); Perak v Malacca (KLHA Stadium, 5.30pm).

Battle of the goalkeepers

Sapura goalkeeper Nasihin Nubli (right) has not featured for his team since the ping the quarter-finals of the TNB Cup.

SAPURA will sorely miss their goalkeeper David James in the final of the TNB Cup as the Welshman has returned home to attend a job interview.
Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) strikers will now face former national goalkeeper Nasihin Nubli, and he is a little rusty for lack of action.
"Nasihin had other commitments after the last League match in Malacca and did not play in the knock-out stage. However, with James out of the picture, he will be back to keep goal," said Sapura coach I. Vickneswaran.
Nasihin is currently the head coach of the national senior women's team, and his commitment with them saw him skip the quarter-finals as well as the semi-finals.
"We are not worried as Nasihin is a good goalkeeper and he has kept himself active even after retirement. He knows what to do, even in penalty corner situations and should be an asset in the final," added Vickneswaran.
At the other end of the pitch will be Roslan Jamaluddin keeping goal for KLHC.
Roslan and Nasihin were brothers-in-arms in the national team a few years back and their rivalry for the No 1 spot saw them keep it for themselves for at least a decade.
"Roslan has kept himself busy with the national team (as No 2 to S. Kumar) in the Asian Games when he was called out of retirement. He has kept himself in shape, and his experience will be vital for us to keep our dream alive," said KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj.
Both goalkeepers will play crucial roles as Sapura have proven penalty corner flicker S. Kuhan, Korean flicker Lim Woo Geun, and Ahmad Kazamirul, while KLHC have Razie Rahim, who proved himself in the League but was a little rusty in the knockout stages.
"Razie has had poor performances in the knockout stage but I am confident he will give a better account of himself in the last match of the season," said Dharmaraj.

Kelantan sneak into s-final

KELANTAN held Perak to a 3-3 draw in a Group B match and qualified for the semi-finals of the National Under-16 hockey tournament at the Kuala Lumpur HA Stadium yesterday.
Perak topped Group B and will play Malacca in the crossover semi-finals while Kelantan will square off against defending champions Kuala Lumpur.
Kuala Lumpur beat Malacca 5-0 to top Group A in the last match yesterday.
Perak took a 2-0 lead but released their grip on the match and allowed Kelantan to enter the semi-finals. On the sidelines were Negri Sembilan players who were hoping for Kelantan to lose so they could give their best against Kedah in the next match, but were disappointed.
The Perak goals were scored by Helmi Jaafar (20th, 21st, 39th), while Kelantan got their goals through Shafiq Ikwan (25th), Aminuddin Zain (32nd) and Zikrillah Alias (40th).
Meanwhile, Sabah ended their campaign by holding Pahang 2-2 in their Group A match. It was their fourth draw in six matches, and it was a good tournament for the former whipping boys.
Sabah lost 5-0 to Kuala Lumpur and were edged 2-1 by Selangor. Their draws were against Pahang (2-2), Johor (3-3), Malacca (2-2) and Police (2-2).
"I am happy with the performances though the results could have been better as in some matches we held the upper hand," said Sabah team manager Laila Shahbadur.
"And if there is one area that I would like to see some improvement it has to be the fixtures as there was not enough rest between matches," said Laila.
RESULTS -- Group A: Selangor 4 Johor 0, Pahang 2 Sabah 2, Kuala Lumpur 5 Malacca 0.
Group B: Perlis 2 Singapore 1, Perak 3 Kelantan 3, Negri Sembilan 3 Kedah 3, Penang 3 Terengganu 1.
TOMORROW (S-finals): Malacca v Perak ( 3.30pm); Kuala Lumpur v Kelantan (5.30pm). Both Matches at KLHA Stadium .