Friday, August 31, 2012

No place for history, past glory..

HISTORY and past glory will be thrown out of the window  as the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) gets underway to day.
    This is because newly appointed national chief coach Paul  Revington and his assistant Arul Selvaraj would be on the  lookout for new blood to play for the country in the Champions Challenge I and Asian Champions Trophy in November  and December respectively.
    There are some experienced hands in the national team  that need to be replaced fast, as they have shown little  motivation or promise in the Dublin Olympic Qualifiers.
   And with plenty of young legs, especially players from the  Project 2013, who have shown more desire and promise,  there could be some surprises in the selection when the MHL  ends on Oct 10.
    In the Premier Division, which will see six quality sides  instead of the nine diluted teams last season, double cham pions KL Hockey Club and Tenaga Nasional start as  favourites while Sapura, Maybank, UniKL and Nur Insafi- MBI have openly declared that their focus is making the semi- finals.
    And there would be seven teams in Division One fighting it  out for their own league and overall titles, as there is no  quarter-finals in the TNB Cup this season.
     Today, fans are in for quality time as defending champions  KL Hockey Club play league runners-up Sapura in the  Charity Shield.
    Sapura have promising youngsters and steady old hands  while KLHC’s line-up comprises the who’s who of Malaysian  hockey.
     Former national coach Stephen van Huizen, who now is a  coaching consultant for Sapura conceded that KLHC will be  the team to beat: “KLHC are the favourites as they are not  only the defending double champions but have the services of  all the key national players as well as ex national players who  have played together for a few years.
   “They have built a good understanding over the years, and  are armed with deadly penalty corner set pieces. Its an  opening match that will severely test my side.”
     KLHC have a sound penalty corner battery in Razie Rahim,  Ahmad Kazairul and Baljit Singh.
    “Besides having good set pieces, in Tengku Ahmad Tajud din, Chua Boon Huat, Azlan Misron and Kelvinder Singh,  KLHC also has strength on the bench,” said Stephen.
    Sapura have former skipper S. Kuhan, the Mohan brothers  Jiwa and Jivan and Megat Azrafiq for experience.
    They also have Korea’s Jason Lee Mung Seon and Pak istan’s Muhammad Imran to boost their challenge.
     KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj said their mission is to win  every match as there are only five opponents.
    “We always play to win, and with home-and-away, we can’t  let the other team grow in confidence by losing points, As this  would make the return leg much more difficult,” said  Dharmaraj.
     TODAY: Premier Division -- Tenaga v Maybank (National  Stadium II, 4pm), UniKL v MBI-Nur Insafi (National Stadium  II, 6pm), KLHC v Sapura (National Stadium II, 8pm).
    Division One: Armed Forces v UniTen (National Stadium I,  5pm), Bukit Jalil Sports School v Thunderbolts (Ministry of  Education, 5pm), Politeknik-KPT v Johor HA (Taman Daya,  5pm).
    Tomorrow: Premier Division -- Tenaga v MBI-Nur Insafi  (National Stadium II, 4pm), Maybank v KLHC (National  Stadium II, 6pm), Sapura v UniKL (National Stadium II,  8pm).
    Division One: UiTM v Armed Forces (Ministry of Education,  5pm), Thunderbolts v UniTen (National Stadium I, 5pm)