Monday, November 28, 2011

Kuala Lumpur champions again

KUALA Lumpur lifted their fourth consecutive Boys National Under-14 title when they hammered Terengganu 6-2 at the KLHA Stadium yesterday.
The tournament was incepted in 2006, and Perak won the first two titles. But after that, KL took charge from 2008 onwards until yesterday.
For the record, the previous five editions were KL-Perak finals.
Terengganu started on a super note when their skipper Luqman Nul Haqim scored a spectacular top-of-the-net field goal in the sixth minute itself, but that was as far as they went.
Kuala Lumpur made a strong comeback after that stunner and scored off three consecutive penalty corners and a field goal to take a comfortable 4-1 lead into the breather.
The equaliser was nailed by Khairul Amirin in the 10th minute, and then he gave KL the lead in the 21st minute.
Shahfirul Aqmal made it 3-1 in the 25th minute, and KL made it count in the final second of the first half when Ameer Mohamed scored a field goal.
After the breather, Wan Haziq Hisyamuddin doused any hopes of a Terengganu fight-back with a field goal in the 38th minute, and Shahfirul Aqmal made it 6-1 off a field attempt in the 51st minute.
Terengganu's second goal was scored by Amirul Mirza in the 52nd minute, but by then, KL had already sealed the title.
"It was a shaky start, but credit to my players who never gave up after letting in an early goal and fought gallantly to claim an emphatic victory," said KL coach Nishel Kumar, a former national player who made his coaching debut.
In the bronze play-off, Perak came back from behind to beat a tired looking Kelantan side. Kelantan score off Khairul Asyraff in the eighth minute, and held onto the lead but gave up in the last 10 minutes of the match.
Luqman Hakim scored the equaliser for Perak in the 60th minute off a penalty corner attempt, and the medal winner was delivered by Najme Ahmad in a 68th minute penalty stroke.
RESULTS: Final -- Kuala Lumpur 6 Terengganu 2; Third-Fourth: Perak 2 Kelantan 1.


Fairplay: Perlis.
Player of the Tournament: Luqman Nul Hakim (Terengganu)
Best Goalkeeper: Amirul Abdul Halim (Perak).
Top Scorer: Luqman Nul Hakim (Terengganau) and Shahfirul Aqmal (Kuala Lumpur) -- both scored 12 goals.
Most Promising Player: Iskandar Fahmi Razali (Kelantan).

Mockery of a Goodwill Challenge

THE Champions Challenge I in South Africa is heading towards the history book as a mockery of a tournament, and suggestions have been put forward to change its name to Goodwill Challenge instead.
But at stake is an appearance in the Champions Trophy for the gold medallist, and that is no joke.
For how else can one explain the insignificance of the Group stages, as even if a team loses all three matches, they will still end up playing in the quarter-finals.
Malaysia lost to Canada 3-1, and drew 2-2 with Japan and their last match is against Argentina today.
And they can afford to fix their quarter-final match, as the champions in Group B play the last placed team in Group A, while the second placed team plays the third placed.
As it goes now, Malaysia have one point and a win against Argentina could see them placed in the second-third spot and they are likely to meet South Africa or Poland.
And if Malaysia want to play either India or Belgium in the quarter-finals, they should play to lose against Argentina today.
Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary Maninderjit Singh feels the FIH should have a re-look at the tournament format in future.
"The FIH should have a re-look at the mode of competition because teams are taking it easy in the group stages and and all matches are being played at below par as there is no bearing, and all have qualified for the quarter-finals," said Maninderjit.
He also said teams can choose and pick their opponents: "It also makes it easier for teams to choose and pick their quarter-finals opponents by adjusting their points accordingly.
"This does not reflect the name of the tournament, and it is now a Goodwill Challenge, as it all boils down to one quarter-finals match which would decide if a team finishes among the top-four, or bottom four of the tournament," lamented Maninderjit.
And reading from the two games Malaysia have played, it looks like coach Tai Beng Hai has placed all his eggs in one basket, and it could see Malaysia play India in the quarter-finals, provided we lose against Argentina today.
India should beat Poland and top the group, as the Belgium-South Africa match is more balanced -- if teams play to their true strength, and not try and fix their quarter-final opponents.
TUESDAY: Group A: India v Poland (9pm), Belgium v South Africa (11pm).
Group B: Canada v Japan (5pm), Malaysia v Argentina (7pm).
NOTE: Malaysian time.


P W D L F A Pts
Belgium 2 1 1 0 10 6 4
India 2 1 1 0 10 7 4
SAfrica 2 1 0 1 7 8 3
Poland 2 0 0 2 4 10 0


P W D L F A Pts
Argentina 2 1 1 0 5 4 4
Canada 2 1 0 1 5 4 3
Japan 2 0 2 0 4 4 2
Malaysia 2 0 1 1 3 5 1