Monday, April 23, 2012

Malaysian women looking good...

THE Malaysian women's hockey team came up with some encouraging results in South Korea before heading to Japan to play in the Olympic Qualifier in Kakamigahara from April 25 - May 5.
    The first match was against the Korean Sports University and the girls won 3-2, followed by a 6-1 thrashing by the Korean national side.
   The Malaysians then improved but were edged 2-1 by the Korean national team in their second encounter.
   Considering that Malaysia are ranked 23th in the world, while the Koreans have qualified for the Olympics, national coach Nasihin Nubli is happy with the results of the friendlies.
   Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) senior vice-president S. Shamala said: "It was a very worthwhile trip to South Korea as the hosts did not hold back but fielded their full national squad in the second and third friendlies.
   "Nasihin told me that the friendlies completed his training, and they are ready to give their best in the Qualifier."
   The FIH website pronounced Japan, World No 9, and Azerbaijan, World No 15, as the front-runners for the gold medal which comes with an Olympic ticket.
   "Nasihin is confident that his charges have what it takes to play in the final and their confidence was further boosted by the slim defeat to Korea in the last friendly," said Shamala.
   Korea are ranked eighth in the world, one rung better than Japan -- indicating that Malaysia will give all their opponents a tough fight in Kakamigahara and not just make up the numbers.
   Malaysia take on Azerbaijan in their opener on Wednesday,  followed by Japan (April 27), Belarus (April 29), Chile (May 1) and Austria (May 3).
   MALAYSIA: Farah Ayuni  Yahya;   Norhasikin Halim; A. Kannagi;  Noor Hasliza Ali; Siti Noor Amarina; Juliani Din; Norbaini Hashim; Siti Shahidah Saad; Nor Azlin Sumantri; Nuraini Rashid; Nadia Rahman; Sebah Kari; Siti Rahmah Othman; Fazilla Slyvester Silin; Siti Noor Hafiza; Rabiatul Adawiyah; Nurul Nabihah; Raja Norsharina ;   Coach:  Nasihin Nubli; Assistant coach: Hanapi Hassan; Manager: Ernawati Mahmud.

May 5: Acid test for Project 2013

MAY 5 could well be judgement day for Project 2013 in the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca.
   For that is when they play South Korea which could seal their semi-finals fate or may have to wait for their next match against Japan two days later.
   For the record, Malaysia beat South Korea 4-2 in the inaugural Sultan of Johor Cup.
  And recently coach K. Dharmaraj's boys played a series of friendly matches against Korea losing the first 2-1 but then thrashed them 9-1 They lost the third 5-3 but won the final match 6-5.
  "The Koreans have brought 17 players who played in the Sultan of Johor Cup, with the exception of the one player who scored both the goals against us.
   "I don't know the reason for his absence, but after the friendly matches, confidence is high and we will have a good outing against them in Malacca," said Dharmaraj.
   The missing player is You Seung Ju, who scored a brace in Johor off penalty corner deflections, and his name was on the final list forwarded to tournament organisers the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF).
  The Junior Asia Cup doubles up as qualifiers for next year's Junior World Cup which India will host. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has only given two slots to the World Cup from Malacca, as only eight teams will be competing.
   India, automatic qualifiers, are in Group B with Pakistan, China and Sri Lanka. In Group A are Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and Iran.
   The Project boys also played three friendly matches against Pakistan losing the first two 5-3 and 4-3 before winning the third 5-3.
   "During the Korea and Pakistan friendlies, I tested a big group of players and that is why the scores were erratic. But I believe when I field my best in the tournament proper, the scores will favour Malaysia," said Dharmaraj.
   Right now, the only headache for Dharmaraj is whether to name two goalkeepers or one. "My first choice Hazrul Faiz is in top flight and even if I name two goalkeepers, I might not get a chance to play the reserve (Shahrul Azaddin) for the entire tournament.
   "That is why I am contemplating naming only one goalkeeper, but then the fear that he might get injured or sick looms large.
   "I am still in two minds about that, and that is why I have selected 19 players. I will only drop the last one after the friendly matches against an Australian County team in Malacca on May 24 and 26," said Dharmaraj.
   And it could well be the reserve goalkeeper, as Dharmaraj goes for broke.

Dharmaraj banking on Faizal power

THE Project 2013 hockey team are primed for an explosive Junior Asia Cup in Malacca on May 3-13, with coach K. Dharmaraj bent on winning the gold medal.
    His confidence stems from Faizal Saari
(pic) becoming a one-man scoring machine in the friendlies against Pakistan and South Korea.
   And Faizal will complement well with penalty corner flicker Noor Faeez Ibrahim, who played a pivotal role in helping Malaysia win the inaugural Sultan of Johor Cup.
   "Faizal has shown great composure and is now the ace in the Project 2013 team.
   "His penalty corner flicks are not only accurate, but powerful, and he would be the player to watch in Malacca," said Dharmaraj.
   The finalists in Malacca will advance to the Junior World Cup in India next year.
    Malaysia have South Korea, Japan and Iran for company in Group A. India are in Group B with Pakistan, China and Sri Lanka.
   India, as hosts, are automatic qualifiers regardless of how they end up in the tournament.
   However, if India play in the final, then the bronze medallists will also advance to New Delhi.
   India are the defending champions, and have won the last two editions in Karachi in 2004 and Chennai in 2008.

RIP RMR Balbir

Balbir ( 4th from left, standing) with the NS Veterans Team in Kedah last December
 Funeral details for Balbir: Cremation would be on Tuesday April 24 at Cheras Crematorium , Jln Kuari at 1pm.

IT is with profound sadness that I report the death of former international Balbir Singh. He was 51 years old and leaves behind three boys and his wife.
    Balbir, who represented Malaysia, RMR and Yayasan Negeri Sembilan in the 1980's to 1990's, suffered a heart attack while representing Malacca Sikhs in a tournament in Singapore this afternoon (Sunday).
   He was walking towards the centre of the pitch when he collapsed.
   One of the first to rush to Balbir was his long time friend and team mate Gurmit Singh.
   "He just collapsed and we tried to revive him. There was a faint pulse and he was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead," said Gurmit who was in tears when contacted in Singapore.
   "It was all of a sudden. One minute we were joking and now he is gone. I just cannot believe it."
   Balbir was a member of the YNS team in 1995 that won the Overall Championships in the MHL.
   Prior to that Balbir played for RMR and served the Armed Forces for 18 years, his last post being a Sargent Mejar.
   Balbir represented Negeri Sembilan in the National Veterans Tournament in Kedah last December and was instrumental in helping the team emerge champions.
   "It is truly a sad day for hockey as Balbir was one of the more fitter players during his hey days. He made up for his lack of skills with hard running and was a very disciplined player. I am shocked at his demise and still cannot get over it," said MHC Vice President Manjit Majid Abdullah who is also in Singapore.
   Balbir , who hails from Malacca, was a member of the three men RMR strike force that drove fear into the hearts of their opponents, the other two being Mohd Nor Hussain and Yusof   Sameon.
   HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the President of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) who is currently attending the Asean Football Federation meeting in Manila has extended his condolences to the family of Balbir.