Friday, June 1, 2012

Faizal primed EHL debut..

Faizal Saari celebrates his goal during the Malaysia-China match at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou 2010.

NATIONAL juniors coach K. Dharmaraj is looking to send  20 of his charges to play in overseas leagues, as the offers  have been pouring in since Malaysia won the Junior Asia  Cup.
    Faizal Saari, six goals in the Junior Asia Cup and four goals  in the ongoing Azlan Shah Cup, has received an offer to play  for a Spanish club in the European Hockey League.
    “My target is to have at least 20 juniors playing overseas  this year and arrangements are currently being handled by  team manager Mirnawan Nawawi.
    “There have been offers from New Zealand, Australia,  Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Ireland for the  juniors and the only thing holding back is the uncertainty  over the local calendar,” said Dharmaraj.
   The worry is over the Malaysian Hockey League, as if it is  held in August onwards, many players who have signed one- year contracts with clubs will not be able to travel over seas.
    “I hope if the scheduled stints clash with the MHL, the local  league would be postponed to a later date as it would be  difficult to get release from clubs who have signed the juniors  for the whole year,” lamented Dharmaraj.
     As for Faizal: “He is fast becoming an asset to Malaysian  hockey and if he plays for the Spanish club, it will be top- notch exposure in the competitive EHL (European Hockey  League),” said Dharmaraj.
     Faizal and Shukri Mutalib played in the Australian Hockey  League last year, after Faizal showed super form to score  three goals in the last Azlan Shah Cup.
     “Izzat (Sumantri) and Noor Faeez (Ibrahim) played in the  Dutch League (in 2010) and their transformation was just  amazing.
   “Back then, the players were supported by the National  Sports Council as clubs were not ready to fork their bill. But  now, our juniors are receiving offers which cover their flight,  accommodation and other benefits.
    “This certainly is a turning point for Malaysian hockey and  the opportunity must not be missed,” said Dharmaraj.

Take Argies or go bust..

MALAYSIA wrap-up their Azlan Shah Cup pool fixtures  against Argentina today, and a defeat might see them having  a rest day on Sunday.
    Malaysia, who finished seventh last year, might just end up  with the same number if Pakistan and South Korea win their  matches.
    And there is no classification match for the seventh placed  team on Sunday.
   “It will be a difficult as Argentina would be looking to play  in their second Azlan Shah Cup final. We can’t afford to let in  easy goals and then chase in the second half, that will have to  change tomorrow (today),” said Malaysian coach Tai Beng  Hai who is staring at his last assignment as the Malaysian  Hockey Confederation scout for a foreign replacement.
    For the record, Malaysia came back from behind to hold  South Korea 1-1, then another comeback to hold Britain 3-3  and finally their third comeback to beat Pakistan 3-2.
    And the last time Malaysia played Argentina was in the  Champions Challenge where Beng Hai’s men took a 2-0 lead  only to collapse 5-2.
    “We have much in stake in the final encounter as a win will  not only give us a middle finish, but also pave the way for  India to pip Argentina into the final,” said
     New Zealand have already checked into the final on 12  points with a South Korea match in hand today, so they will  not push themselves to the limit with 24 hours to the title  battle.
    For the record, it is the first final Azlan Shah Cup appearance for the Kiwis, while Argentina has won the title in 2008.

                        P  W  D  L  F  A  PTS

N ZEALAND    5   4   0    1    18      7      12
ARGENTINA   5   3    0    2     14    16     9
INDIA            6   3    0    3     12     15      9
BRITAIN         5   2   2    1      11     10     8
S KOREA        5   1    2    2      10      8      5
MALAYSIA      5   1    2    2     10      13     5
PAKISTAN      5   1    0    4     8       14      3

 JUNE 2: South Korea v New Zealand (4pm), Britain v Pakistan (6pm), Argentina v Malaysia (8pm).