Sunday, May 29, 2011

Perak sweat for 4-2 win

PERAK were given the run-around before they managed to subdue Project 2017 4-2 in the Central Zone Razak Cup Qualifiers at the Ministry of Education stadium yesterday.
The Project 2017 team, made up of under-16 players, shocked Perak 2-0 into the breather, but could not hold onto the lead as experience gave Perak the unfair advantage in the second half.
The Project side scored off Hanif Azemi in the sixth and Najmi Farizal in the 27th minutes. But in the second half, they missed a handful of sitters and were punished with late goals from Sabri Mohamed (45th), Haziq Samsul (54th), Haniff Saidin (65th) and Faiz Ahmad (66th).
“For the Qualifiers, we are fielding a very young side made up of four 17-year-olds, and seven under-21 players. But still, my players have shown great determination like in the match against defending champions KL where we only lost 2-1,” said Perak coach Manjit Singh.
Perak have also released three players to the Project 2013 team which is on an Australian and New Zealand Tour.
The Project 2013 side played four matches against the Australian Juniors and lost 9-1, 2-1 drew 5-5 and then lost 7-2 yesterday.
RESULTS -- NORTH ZONE: Perlis 1 Armed Forces 3, Penang 5 Kedah 0.
CENTRAL ZONE: Perak 4 Project 2017 2, Kuala Lumpur 6 Selangor 2.



P W D L F A Pts
PENANG 3 2 0 1 9 5 6
FORCES 3 2 0 1 8 4 6
PERLIS 3 2 0 1 8 6 6
KEDAH 3 0 0 3 2 12 0


P W D L F A Pts
K LUMPUR 3 3 0 0 14 7 9
PERAK 3 2 0 1 9 4 6
SELANGOR 3 1 0 2 5 11 3
PROJECT 2017 3 0 0 3 7 13 0


P W D L F A Pts
JOHOR 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
NEGRI 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MALACCA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

P W D L F A Pts
KELANTAN 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PAHANG 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Azlan Shah Cup Part III

By Zakir Hussain Syed

Malaysia has been like a second home for me ever since I was based there for three years as Cricket Development Manager Asian Cricket Council in 2002 before resigning.
I first went to Malaysia in 1975 as a TV commentator to cover the World Cup Hockey.
I have seen Malaysia grow from a small time state to one of the most important countries in Asia with an economy that is one of the most prosperous in Asia and also at international level.
Despite presence of nearly half a dozen ethnic components, the Malaysian society is so tolerant that no ethnic group feels threatened.
Former Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammad deserves credit for guiding a small nation to not only economic prosperity but making it the tourist hub of the world with tourists from Middle East and Australia thronging Kuala Lumpur.
However, this economic prosperity has brought an increase in crime rate and lawlessness.
Even FairPark Hotel in Ipoh, which had been selected by the organisers as Media Hotel was not safe. This hotel is very convenient because of its close proximity to Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Stadium.
Somebody broke into the room of Sandeep Nakai; our colleague from India and chairman AIPS Hockey Commission, and stole his laptop and camera.
The tragic aspect of this theft was the extremely valuable data in his laptop including the thesis on which he was working. The young manager of this hotel behaved more like a police officer than a hospitality manager.
I was myself nearly run over by a motorcyclist on a footpath. Extreme traffic congestion notwithstanding, quite a few roadside eating houses placed their tables on the footpaths especially in the evenings which makes it difficult for pedestrians and with the remnants of food thrown all around, the filth at many places especially in central Kuala Lampur and bazaars near World Trade Center are spoiling the surroundings.
Purse snatching is on the rise. However, despite these small irritations, the friendliness of the people is heart warming and one finds most Malaysians helpful and pleasant to talk to. Mountbatten Hotel near the central railway station in Kuala Lampur is a reminder of the colonial heritage of Malaysia.
Ipoh reminds one of Model Town Lahore in the early 1960s with large spacious houses and green areas. Model Town Lahore was one of the few settlements in Lahore which had well preserved hockey, cricket and football grounds along with badminton and tennis courts in Model Town Club.
It now has a beautiful park. Similarly Ipoh has retained its rustic beauty with large open spaces, green areas and playgrounds specially hockey and football grounds which are crowded in the evenings.
My four journalist colleagues from India included a woman who is one of the few female hockey journalists in the world, the other one who is a real professional is of course the charming Susan Edgehill from England.
The Indian girl Uthra Ganesan looks like a stern schoolteacher most of the times until she smiles and then she is different altogether. We used to have a female hockey journalist by the name of Farhana Ayaz who was doing quite well until her migration to America. I wish Pakistan had more female sports journalists.
This time Sultan Azlan Shah Tournament was one of the most fiercely contested with fairly high standard being exhibited throughout the tournament.
This is how international events should be. For Pakistan, the performance of their hockey team was encouraging but as I said at the start, they have a long and difficult climb back to the top.


(Zakir Hussain Syed is Pakistan’s internationally renowned sports administrator, sports broadcaster and sports analyst)

The Daily Times

Azlan Shah Cup Part II

By Zakir Hussain Syed

On the basis of Australia’s performance in the pool matches, especially against Pakistan, everybody rightly took Australia’s title victory for granted.
However,it was a totally different Pakistan on the day of the final. They mounted attacks from the word go and twice stormed into the Australian striking circle in the first ten minutes missing easy scoring chances.
Their defensive strategy was solid and for the first time in the tournament, one saw Australian coach Rick Charlesworth looking worried and pacing up and down near the team bench. In the pool match, Pakistan had looked very vulnerable against speedy Australian forwards but in the final Pakistan’s defence was very well organised giving few openings to the Australians.
They were held in check until the 43rd minute when Christopher Ciriello scored through a penalty corner. Shortly afterwards, Sohail Abbas equalised for Pakistan by converting a penalty corner in the 51st minute.
Australia’s second goal came through Glenn Turner in the 44th minute. Rehan Butt scored the second goal bringing the large Pakistan supporters to their feet. With the match two all during normal time extra time was taken to decide the champions.
Pakistan missed an easy chance in the first half of this extra time. In the second half of extra time Australia scored the match-winning goal through Ciriello who scored off a penalty corner.
There were two extremely refreshing aspects of Pakistan’s performance in the final.
They proved to be as physically fit and speedy as the Australians and fought until the very last minute with the same energy as the Australians.
The second key element was Pakistan’s different match plan which was totally different from their pool game against the Australians. I noted this element during the final of the Asian Games in Guangzhao last year and it was very obvious in the final in Ipoh as well.
This one element can make a difference between defeat and victory as all top teams of the world have different strategies for different teams depending on their strength and weaknesses. Such decisions are made on the spot and obviously Dutch coach Michel Van Heuval and Khawaja Muhammad Junaid had done their home work for which due credit must be given to them.
Another important factor was the performance of youngsters like Syed Kashaf, Tauseeq Ahmad and Imran Junior. They justified their inclusion with their performance.
However, the most worrying aspect of Pakistan’s performance was the missing by the Pakistan forwards and one could count at least half a dozen missed chances which should have been converted.
Such a high percentage of missing can prove disastrous in any tournament. Kh Junaid with whom I raised this issue agreed but is confident of sorting out this deficiency during the European tour.
I also had a long discussion with Charlesworth whom I have known since his days as Australia’s captain. He is always honest and frank in discussing issues.
He is the best hockey coach in the world on the basis of his achievements, having first taken the Australian women team to world titles and now having achieved the same for the Australian men’s team.
He told me that he had a hard core base of 52 players from which to pick the Australian team while we barely have a base of just thirty players. We also need to have a second penalty corner option.
Sohail Abbas may till be scoring but his missing percentage is now progressively increasing. Without a second specialist option, Pakistan are without the element of surprise which all teams invariably have. India’s new specialist Rupinder Pal Singh was as deadly as Sandeep Singh. It just shows how every team works on these key areas.
The standard of umpiring in the 20th Azlan Shah Tournament was unbelievably poor and all those in the press box agreed on this together with team coaches some of whom were very vocal.
But more of it later. For Pakistan, Azlan Shah Tournament was a good step forward. As I wrote earlier, the climb back in the elite league of top teams is not going to be easy. However, Pakistan’s progress has so far been encouraging.
For me the most memorable moment of this tournament was a truly spectacular run by Shakeel Abbasi who, after having collected the ball near Pakistan’s striking circle weaved past the entire opposition denfence in the style of great Shahbaz Junior.
It was no wonder that he won the best player of the tournament award which he so richly deserved. He was the only Pakistan player in the Sultan Azlan Shah Tournament eleven which was announced after the tournament.

to be continued

(Zakir Hussain Syed is Pakistan’s internationally renowned sports administrator, sports broadcaster and sports analyst)

The Daily Times

Azlan Shah Cup Part 1

By Zakir Hussain Syed

I was Ipoh once again for the 20th edition of Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament, the only regularly organised international hockey event in Asia.
After the 19th Azlan Shah Tournament, I had written that this event was losing its appeal because of the participation of second grade teams like Egypt, and also even the stronger teams that did compete used this event as an experimental platform.
Fortunately, the 20th edition was different as it was participated by seven of the top teams in the world ranking. Australia are ranked No.1, Great Britain No.4, Korea No.6, New Zealand No.7, Pakistan No.8, India No.9 and hosts Malaysia No.15.
More importantly, every participating team, except Malaysia, took it as a first step towards London Olympics in 2012.
This was Pakistan’s first international commitment after a gap of nearly 6 months since the Asian Games in November 2010. Pakistan team had also included 4 young players in the national team to blood them for future. I will give a brief review of Pakistan’s matches in this tournament before analysing the overall performance of the team.
Pakistan’s first match was against New Zealand at 4:00 pm which happened to be the hottest period of the day.
Pakistan won this match comfortably by a margin of 4-2. Pakistan were never really tested in this match with Pakistan goals coming in through Rizwan Senior, Haseem Khan, Syed Kashif Shah and Umar Bhutta.
Pakistan’s second game was against highly rated South Korea. This match again was played at 4:00 pm. Until half time it was 1-1 but then Pakistan played very well in the second half scoring 3 goals in the last 12 minutes, a proof of Pakistan’s domination and superiority.
Next game against Great Britain was lost by a margin of one goal with final result being 3-2 in favor of Great Britain. However, Pakistan should have won this game by a margin of at least 3 goals as they completely outclassed Great Britain in the second half.
There was unbelievable missing by all the Pakistan forwards including experienced Rehan Butt. Pakistan played their fourth match against Australia once again at 4:00 pm. This was Pakistan’s worst performance in the tournament as Australia completely dominated this match with a stunning 5-1 victory.
For the first 15 minutes of the match, Pakistan remained confined to their own half and hardly made an attacking move. The Australian forwards were too speedy for Pakistan defense and literally weaved circles around them.

Then came the crunch game against India and once again Pakistan played superbly coming from behind to beat India 3-1.
This match showed Pakistan’s potential as a team and the victory was well merited. Pakistan’s last match against Malaysia was perhaps the easiest of the entire tournament and Pakistan’s victory in this match was never in doubt which though the final victory was only by a single goal.
Pakistan thus qualified on merit for the final of the tournament which they had won thrice in 1999, 2000 and 2003 while India and South Korea, last year’s finalists were left fighting for 5th and 6th place. It just showed how international standings can change so quickly.

To be continued...

(Zakir Hussain Syed is Pakistan’s internationally renowned sports administrator, sports broadcaster and sports analyst)