Sunday, March 31, 2013

KLHC whip Warriors, Maybank close in..

KUALA Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) consolidated their position at the top of the Premier Division when they beat Nur Insafi 7-0 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
  The win took their tally to 10 points in the Malaysia Hockey League, while Maybank closed the gap with nine points after they beat UniKL 4-1 yesterday.
  KLHC opened scoring with an opportunist goal from Australian Timothy James in the 22nd minute, and increased the lead in the 29th minute through the effort of Harvinder Singh.
  After the breather, Pakistani Umar Bhutta increased the lead in the 40th minute, while nine minutes later Nabil Fiqri made it 4-0 with a field attempt.
  Muhammad Imran then completed the route by scoring KLHC's fifth goal off penalty corner attempt.
  Imran scored his second and KLHC's sixth in th 58th while Najib Abu Hassan (61st) nailed the last goal.
  "It looks like Maybank have some good Pakistan buys and even though we beat them 4-3 in the first round, we can't take them lightly in the second round as they are improving after every match," said KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj.
  At the adjacent pitch, UniKL took an early lead off Noor Faeez Ibrahim in the sixth minute, but Maybank hit back with three goals before the break.
  Pakistan import Muhammad Imran started the fightback with a penalty corner goal in the 23rd minute, before Shafqat Rasool gave them the lead in the 33rd minute, while Muhammad Waqas made it 3-1 in the 35th minute.
  And Maybank's Dick Cheny, from Sabah, then scored the fourth in the 66th minute to complete UniKL's misery.
  "We have to cut down on the costly mistakes in the remaining matches for UniKL to salvage their season. It was the same script against Tenaga (lost 4-2) and we can't afford to drop more points," said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj.
  RESULTS: Premier Division -- KLHC 7 Nur Insafi 0, Maybank 4 UniKL 1, Terengganu v Sapura x.

Under-16 void of exciting talent..

NATIONAL Juniors coach K. Dharmaraj did not spot any exciting talent in the just concluded National Under-16, as most of the players were just above average.
  Perak and Malacca upset the formbook to reach the final, and the Silver State then lifted the title with an edgy 2-1 victory on Saturday.
  "I watched for myself and also spoke to come coaches, and the consensus was that there were no exciting talent to draft into the juniors training squad.
  "Previously, one could see at least one or two players who could walk into the juniors side in a years time, but there were none this year," said Dharmaraj.
  The Junior World Cup coach pointed out that: "There were no Faizal Saari, Fitri Saari or Firhan Ashaari in this edition, as these were some of the outstanding players in age-group tournaments a few years back, and are now making their names at the national and senior club levels."
  Twelve teams competed in the National Under-16, with Kelantan given the boot mid-way because they staged a walk-out when playing against Malacca.
  There were 12 teams with 18 players in each side, and from a total pool of 216 players, the grassroots report card was damning.

Sapura dent TNB's bid

MHL: Come from behind twice to share spoils

TENAGA NASIONAL failed to grab the top spot in the Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Sapura yesterday.
  TNB, who beat UniKL 4-2 on Friday, failed to convert their chances numerous chances after taking the lead twice.
  TNB took the lead after only three minutes when skipper Amin Rahim's powerful flick of their first penalty beat Sapura keeper Hairi Abdul Rahman.
  Sapura immediately mounted a counter and won their first penalty corner in the fourth minute, but it was a disappointing outcome as Megat Azrafiq failed to trap the push-out by Izwan Firdaus Ahmad Tajuddin.
  Sapura then lived dangerously as Faizal Saari and Firhan Ashaari squandered sitters.
  But they found the equaliser in the 30th minute from their second penalty corner, when Pakistani Khasif Ali made a powerful drive.
  However, TNB restored their lead two minutes before halftime when an unmarked Faizal slotted home from an acute angle.
  The second half saw the same script, as TNB did most of the attacking while Sapura relied on counter-attacks to break free.
  Sapura found the equaliser again in the 54th minute, against the run of play, from their third penalty corner when Khasif stepped up once again to send a powerful flick past national goalkeeper S. Kumar.
  Tenaga remain second on six points, while Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club top the table with seven points.
  Results -- Premier Division: Sapura 2 Tenaga Nasional 2.
  Division One: TNB Thunderbolts 2 Ipoh City Council 2, Tengku Mahkota Ismail SS 1 UniTen 3.
  SUNDAY -- Premier Division: KLHC v Nur Insafi (National Stadium Pitch II, 6pm), Maybank v UniKL (National Stadium Pitch I, 6pm), Terengganu v Sapura (National Stadium Pitch II, 8pm).

Perak prove their pedigree

PERAK won the National Under-16 title when they edged Malacca 2-1 at the Ministry of Education Stadium yesterday.

Perak showed composure and tremendous grit, despite being down 1-0 in the first half, utilising the penalty corners awarded to score the two goals that gave them the title.
"I could not have asked for more as the players showed courage and fighting spirit, never giving up despite being a goal down," said Perak coach Nizam Hashim.
"It is a good win for Perak hockey as it shows we are on the right track in developing future players."
Malacca took the lead in the 31st minute through Alif Syazwan Noorshah who converted a penalty corner.
However Perak were on level terms in the 43rd minute when Luqman Hakim Asri struck from a penalty corner.
Then, Asheinyrul Azreei gave the silver state the title by scoring the winner in the 56th minute.
Results -- Final: Malacca 1 Perak 2. Third-Fourth: Kuala Lumpur 4 Terengganu 3.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Tenaga zap UniKL four times..

TENAGA Nasional claimed their first win of the season when they beat UniKL 4-2 in the Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League yesterday.
  After taking a 4-0 lead off Firhan Ashaari (18th), Amin Rahim (20th), Faizal Saari (37th) and Shahril Saabah (56th), allowed UniKL to almost come back into the game.
  However, UniKL could only narrow the gap with goals from Noor Faeez Ibrahim in the 61st and 70th.
  Tenaga started the season with a 4-4 draw with Terengganu, and then were held to a 3-3 draw by KL Hockey Club.
  Tenaga coach Nor Azlan Bakar was relieved his charges finally collected full points.
  "After two opening draws, it is a relieve that we finally won. However, the final 10 minutes my players slowed down a little as we have another important match against Sapura tomorrow (today)," said Nor Azlan.
  "We had the chances but failed to convert them, but I am proud of my players as they were not overawed playing against a stronger side. It is never easy playing against experienced sides but my youngsters never gave up fighting," said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj.

  RESULTS: Premier Division -- Nur Insafi 1 Terengganu 5, UniKL 2 Tenaga Nasional 4, Maybank 3 KLHC 4.
  TODAY: Premier Division -- Sapura v Tenaga Nasional (National Stadium Pitch II, 8pm).
  Diivision One: TNB Thunderbolts v Ipoh City Council (National Stadium Pitch II, 6pm), Tengku Mahkota Ismail SS v UniTen (Taman Daya, 6pm).
  SUNDAY: Premier Division -- KLHC v Nur Insafi (National Stadium Pitch II, 6pm), Maybank v UniKL (National Stadium Pitch I, 6pm), Terengganu v Sapura (National Stadium Pitch II, 8pm).

Malacca shut the door on KL...

MALACCA caused a sensational upset when they edged Kuala Lumpur 2-1 in the National Under-16 tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
  They will now meet Perak in the final today, after the Silver State beat Terengganu 3-1 in the other semis.
  For the record, both teams are from Group B, and Perak beat Malacca 2-0 then.
  Kuala Lumpur, the raging favourites and defending champions, were taken to extra-time before Malacca nailed the extra-time winner.
  And the Malacca Hang Tuah was Amirul Hakim Nazaruddin, who scored the equaliser in the 51st minute, then the golden goal in the 74th minute to take his team to the final.
  Kuala Lumpur, unbeaten in five Group A matches, scored their goal in the 35th minute off Wan Haziq Hisyamuddin, but ran out of steam in the second half.
  The Perak goals were scored by
  "It was the best moment of the tournament for my players, as they shut the door on raging favourites KL with disciplined play. We did not have a good start in the tournament, but discipline is what took us into the final and now we are ready for another fighting display in the final," said Malacca coach Mohamed Aras Khamis.
  For the record, KL beat Malacca in the final two years ago, while Malacca went out in the semis last season.

   The Perak goals were scored by Najme Ahmad (31st), Aiman Zahari (35th), Asyraf Abas (47th), Haizzat Noor Azmi (66th) and Badrul Amin (69th). The Terengganu goal was scored by Khairul Helmy (sixth).
  RESULTS: Semi-finals -- Kuala Lumpur 1 Malacca 1 (Malacca win on golden goal); Terengganu 1 Perak 5.
  TODAY: Final -- Malacca v Perak (Ministry of Education, 6pm); Third-Fourth: Kuala Lumpur v Terengganu (National Stadium, 8am).

KL maintain run...

KUALA Lumpur maintained their unbeaten run in the National Under-16 when they hammered Selangor 6-1 in Group A at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
  Defending champions KL will now face Malacca in the semi-finals today, while the other semi-finals will be between Perak and Terengganu.
  Terengganu beat Negri 4-2 in the last match of the day to end second in Group A.
  Selangor scored forst off Asyraaf Adris in the ninth minute but KL, who had already qualified for the semi-finals before the Selangor match, went on a rampage with goals from Shahfirul Aqmaib (13th), T. Kavinash (35th), Wan Haziq (39th, 46th) and Falih Hassan (41st, 63rd).   In Group B, Perak topped the table when they beat Pahang 5-1, while Malacca also made the semi-finals when they beat Johor 4-2.
  The Peark goals were scored by Aiman Zahari (seventh, 34th), Muhamed Najme Ahmad (43rd, 46th) and Johari Sani (61st). The Pahang consolation was scored by Surtisno Saimin in the 28th minute.
  As for Malacca, Ahmad Najme (23rd), Faid Farhadh (26th), Zairie Nizam (36th) and Amirul Hakim (69th) delivered the goods.
  The Johor goals were scored by Amirul Hanis (19th) and Syazwan Shsh Nizam (35th).
  RESULTS: Group B -- Johor 2 Malacca 4, Perak 5 Pahang 1.
  Group A: Sabah 3 Perlis 1, Kuala Lumpur 6 Selangor 1, Negri 2 Terengganu 4.
  TODAY: Semi-finals -- Kuala Lumpur v Malacca (4pm, Pitch I); Terengganu v Perak (6pm, Pitch I).
  All matches at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.


              P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
K LUMPUR      5  5  0  0  23 8  15
TERENGGANU    5  4  0  1  16 10 12
SELANGOR      5  2  1  2  6  11 7
NEGRI         5  2  0  3  6  7  6
SABAH         5  1  1  3  8  10 4
PERLIS        5  0  0  5  3  16 0


              P  W  D  L  F  A Pts
PERAK         4  3  1  0  11 2  10
MALACCA       4  2  1  1  9  8  7
PAHANG        4  1  2  1  4  7  5
PENANG        4  1  0  3  7  10 3
JOHOR         4  0  2  2  6  10 2

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Make-or-break weekend for UniKL...

UNIVERSITI Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) will be engaged in a make-or-break Malaysia Hockey League (MHL)  weekend, as they will face two of the top rated teams in the Premier Divison at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
  Today, they go head on against Tenaga Nasional and on Sunday they will meet table toppers Maybank.
  And UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj will be more  than happy if his side can secure two points from both the matches.
  UniKL, with only three points after two matches, (lost 5-0 to KLHC and a won 2-1 against Nur Insafi Warriors): "It cannot get any tougher then this and I will be really glad if we survive the weekend without a thrashing. If we can get one point off each of these two teams, it will be a bonus," said Arul.
   However, Arul cautioned that the UniKL team has the ability to wipe the smile off their opponents.
  "Let's face the facts, both TNB and Maybank are a class above and we have to be realistic. TNB is virtually the national team while Maybank have a solid midfield with (Pakistani) Shakeel Abbasi and Shafqat Rasool pulling the strings.
  "But if my players start believing in their ability, I have a bunch of youngsters, who skill wise, are second to none and can trouble even the best. But they lack the confidence as well as big match exposure," said Arul.
   KLHC, after winning four points from their opening two matches, are on the right track in their title defence.
   And their longest serving player, Chua Boon Huat, feels the team has all the right mixtures to cap another successful season.
   "When there was an exodus of players before the season began, many thought that it was curtains for KLHGC. But we those who remained vowed to do better. The management also secured six foreign players and that was a right choices," said Chua.
   "They are great signings as they are experienced and fitted into our system very well. They adapted right from the first match and I am happy playing alongside them.
  The national players who left KLHC for Terengganu are Shahrun Nabil, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Azlan Misron, Ismail Abu,  Ameerullah Aziz and Fitri Saari.
  They signed six foreigners and leading the cast is skipper of the Pakistan national team, Muhammad Imran who scored five goals in the Azlan Shah Cup last week.
  RESULTS: Division One -- UniTen x UitM x, Sunday 2030 KL x TNB Thunderbolts x, Tengku Mahkota Ismail SS x Ipoh City Council x.
  TODAY: Premier Division -- Nur Insafi v Terengganu (Universiti Sains Malaysia, 6pm), uniKL v Tenaga Nasional (National Stadium Pitch II, 6pm), Maybank v KLHC (National Stadium Pitch II, 8pm).
  SATURDAY: Premier Division -- Sapura v Tenaga Nasional (National Stadium Pitch II, 8pm).
  Diivision One: TNB Thunderbolts v Ipoh City Council (National Stadium Pitch II, 6pm), Tengku Mahkota Ismail SS v UniTen (Taman Daya, 6pm).
  SUNDAY: Premier Division -- KLHC v Nur Insafi (National Stadium Pitch II, 6pm), Maybank v UniKL (National Stadium Pitch I, 6pm), Terengganu v Sapura (National Stadium Pitch II, 8pm).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

KL cruise into U-16 semis..

NATIONAL Under-16 defending champions Kuala Lumpur made the semi-finals with one game in hand when they hammered Terengganu 6-1 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
 Kuala Lumpur have 12 points from four wins (earlier they beat Perlis 5-1, beat Negri 2-1 and beat Sabah 4-3) and play Selangor today to claim the top spot in Group A.
  "I did not get enough time to train this team, but they have shown character and improvement in every match. We now have to beat Selangor and keep a clean record ahead of the semi-finals," said KL coach K. Embaraj.
  Their match against Sabah almost turned into a disaster, as Sabah took a 3-0 lead before the City lads came charging back for a 4-3 win.
  "That was their best match as they never gave up even after being 3-0 down to win the match. This is what I look for players, and the KL boys have it," said Embaraj.
  RESULTS: Group A -- Terengganu 1 Kuala Lumpur 6, Sabah x Negri x, Selangor x Perlis x.
  Group B: Malacca 4 Penang 3, Perak 1 Johor 1.
  TODAY: Group B -- Johor v Malacca (8am, Pitch I), Perak v Pahang (8am, Pitch II).
  Group A: Sabah v Perlis (4pm, Pitch II), Kuala Lumpur v Selangor (6pm, Pitch I), Negri v Terengganu (8pm, Pitch I).
  All matches at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Kelantan booted out of Under-16..

KELANTAN were unceremoniously thrown out of the National Under-16 Hockey Tournament after they staged a walkout during their match against Malacca at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
  Kelantan skipper Muhammad Azmie Othman, who was red carded, was also referred to the MHC DB.
  The decision also means all their previous matches in Group B are now null-and-void. Group B is now left with five teams and they are Penang, Malacca, Johor, Perak and Pahang.
  The incident happened nine minutes from time when Malacca were leading 4-3 and Azmie was shown the red card.
  He then attempted to attack the umpire but was restrained by his teammates, but a a spectator then walked onto the pitch and is said to have slapped a Kelantan player before ordering the team to the changing room.
  Kelantan refused to continue the with the match after that.
  "A meeting was held after the incident and it was decided that both Kelantan and their skipper be referred to the MHC DB. It was also decided that alll their matches will now be null-and-void as they have been thrown out of the tournament," said Under-16 Tournament Director A. Vinod.
  RESULTS: Group A -- Perlis 0 Negri 1, Terengganu 3 Selangor 1, Kuala Lumupur 4 Sabah 3.
  Group B: Pahang 1 Johor 1, Malacca 4 Kelantan 3, Penang 0 Perak 3.
  TODAY: Group A -- Terengganu v Kuala Lumpur (6pm, Pitch II), Sabah v Negri (8pm, Pitch I), Selangor v Perlis (8pm, Pitch II).
  Group B: Malacca v Penang (4pm, Pitch I), Perak v Johor (4pm, Pitch II), Kelantan v Pahang (6pm, Pitch I).
  All matches at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Monday, March 25, 2013

MHC-MILO-NSC Under-16 (boys)



Perlis 0 Negri 1
 Terengganu 3 Selangor 1
 Kuala Lumpur 4 Sabah 3



Pahang 1 Malacca 1
Kelantan 0 Perak 2
Johor 2 Penang 4
Pahang 1 Johor 1
Malacca 4 Kelantan 3
Penang 0 Perak 3


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Aphibarnrat overcomes weather, thyroid..

KIRADECH Aphibarnrat weathered four days of frustrating stoppages, as well as his medical condition, to become only the second Thai to lay his hands on the Seagram Trophy with a 13-under 203 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club yesterday.
  The Maybank Malaysian Open win saw this 23-year-old not only become richer in experience, but also walk away with a handsome pay cheque of US$458,330.
  He joined his illustrious Thai brother Thongchai Jaidee who laid his hands on the Malaysian Open title twice in 2004 and 2005.
  And what does he plan to do with the four-day salary: "I will give it all to my parents, and accept whatever they feel like giving me."
  Kiradech was never upstaged at any point of the tournament, and held the lead on all three days with rounds of 65-68-70. Yesterday, even though he holed out with a bogey on the 18th, there were no challengers in sight as all of them fell by the 16th hole onwards.
  Standing alone at second and just one stroke adrift was Italian Edoardo Molinari who pocketed US$305,550, while also alone on third was Dane Anders Hansen who had 11-under 205 for a US$172,150 pay-out.
  "This win means a lot to me as its only my second Asian Tour title (first in 2011 Sail Open) and first in two years. I've been struggling a lot with my fitness and thyroid but it is now all worth it," said Kiradech.
  And now, even though the Open is sanctioned by the Asian as well as the European Tour which doubles the title count, he wants to win a trophy on European soil.
  "I want to represent Asia and win a trophy on European soil now," proclaimed the portly golfer.
   The erratic weather pattern over four days played a major role in many of the big names, like world No 3 Luke Donald missing the cut, but the Thai sang in the rain like a birdie.
  "The stoppages helped me preserve energy, which I needed badly because of my medical condition. And when I hit a bad shot on the 16th today (yesterday) play was again stopped and this helped me to be more calm when it resumed.
  "And when i hit a birdie on the 16th, I knew that the title was mine to lose in the remaining holes," said Kiradech.
  And after lifting the heavy Seagram Trophy, Kiradech quipped: "I lost all my energy after carrying the heavy trophy, and will have to go for an operation immediately after this (for his tyroid problem)."
  But jokes aside, the Thai admitted that if the tournament had not been shortened to 54holes, he would not have had the energy to carry on.
  "On the 16th onwards today (yesterday) it became increasingly difficult for me as I had almost lost all my energy and was not only trembling, but my voice was also breaking. My caddy told me to stay calm, as there were only two more to go and then my work would be done.
 "So I am thankful that the tournament was shortened by rain."

Kiradech Aphibatnrat lifts Seagram Trophy..

Maybank Malaysian Open Final round scores

203 Kiradech Aphibatnrat (Thai) 65-68-70.
204 Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 66-71-67.
205 Anders Hansen (Den) 66-73-66.
206 Charl Schwartzel (SA) 67-68-71, Victor Dubuisson (SA) 67-69-70.
207 Mark Foster (Eng) 69-69-69, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 69-70-68, Alexander Noren (Swe) 69-68-70, David Howell (Eng) 69-68-70, Padraig Harrington (Irl) 69-68-70.
208 Joonas Granberg (Fin) 71-68-69, Peter Lawrie (Irl) 68-69-71, Thomas Aiken (SA) 71-71-66, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 70-66-72, Wu Ashun (Chn) 67-68-73, Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 66-69-73.
209 Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 70-70-69, Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 71-70-69, Lee Slattery (Eng) 68-70-71, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 69-71-69, Scott Jamieson (Scot) 66-72-71.
210 Joost Luiten (Fra) 69-71-70, Gavin Kyle Green (Mas) 73-68-69, Shiv Kapur (Ind) 72-71-67, Liang Wen-chong (Ch) 70-68-72, Rafa Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 72-67-71, Stephen Gallacher (Scot) 71-73-66.
211 Ignacio Garrido (Spa) 70-71-70, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 75-67-69, Alastair Forsyth (Scot) 69-70-72, Prom Meesawat (Thai) 68-71-72, Jbe Kruger (SA) 73-71-67.
212 Berry Henson (US) 71-71-70, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 70-70-72, Chinnarat Phadungsil (Thai) 70-71-71, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 71-69-72, Thongchai Jaidee (Thai) 70-74-68, Wade Ormsby (NZ) 70-65-77.
213 Scott Barr (NZ) 75-69-69.
214 Adilson Da Silva (Bra) 68-74-72, Jean Gonnet (Fra) 70-70-74, Angelo Que (Phi) 70-72-72, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 73-70-71, Kim Gi-whan (S Kor) 70-73-71, Oliver Fisher (Eng) 69-75-70, Lee-sung (Kor) 68-70-76, Mardan Mamat (Sin) 70-72-72, Robert Derksen (Fra) 72-70-72, Baek Seuk-hyun (S Kor) 72-72-70, Thaworn Wiratchant (Thai) 73-71-70.
215 Andrew Dodt (NZ) 69-72-74, Masanori Kobayashi (Jpn) 72-70-73, Thomas Levet (Fra) 73-71-71, Danny Chia (Mas) 71-71-73.
216 Gunn Charoenkul (Thai) 71-70-75, Prayad Marksaeng (Thai) 69-72-75, Frederik Andersson Hed (Swe) 68-73-75, Simon Khan (Eng) 71-68-77, James Morrison (Eng) 76-68-72, Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 71-73-72, Julien Quesne (Fra) 72-71-73, Mo Joong-kyung (S Kor) 71-72-73, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 72-71-73, Romain Wattel (Fra) 75-69-72.
217 Phillip Price (Wal) 72-71-74, S. Murthy (Mas) 67-70-80, Richard Green (NZ) 74-70-73, Steve Webster (Eng) 71-73-73,
218 Marcus Fraser (NZ) 69-75-74.
221 Lee In-woo (S Kor) 71-73-77, Mohd Siddikur (Bang) 71-72-78, John Edfors (Swe) 76-68-77.
222 Thitiphun Chuayprakong (Thai) 72-71-79.

KLHC aiming for High Five..

By Ajitpal Singh

KL HOCKEY Club (KLHC) are aiming for a fifth Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) double as coach Dhaarma Raj Abdullah believes his side, led by six foreigners, can go unbeaten this season.
  Following an impressive 5-0 thrashing of Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) on Friday, KLHC are confident of winning today's Charity Shield-cum-league match against a disorganised Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
  KLHC have signed five foreigners -- Pakistan's Muhammad Imram, Wassem Ahmad, Fareed Ahmed, Muhamad Umar Bhutta, Akhtar Ali and Australian Timothy James Deavin -- following the departure of several reputed players.
  Despite the lack of training time as most of them represented their teams in the Azlan Shah Cup, KLHC have gelled well as shown by their win over UniKL.
  "Our foreign signings showed mobility and adjusted to my strategies. It shows they are quality players but anyway, I expected them to adapt quickly so it was not a surprise," said Dhaarma in Bukit Jalil on Friday.
  TNB, coached by former international Nor Azlan Bakar, failed to take advantage of an early 2-0 lead as newcomers Terengganu bounced back to force an unexpected 4-4 draw on Friday.
  "I am happy that TNB slipped as it gives us a slight advantage. However, it does not mean we can take them lightly on Sunday. They have experienced players and probably it was not their day against Terengganu."
  KLHC did the double in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
  Nor Azlan, meanwhile, said his players have not quite adjusted to play as some of his regulars were involved in the Azlan Shah Cup.
  "We need to improve defensively and hopefully, will not concede goals on Sunday (today). Yes, the draw against Terengganu was unexpected but we must forget about it and build our confidence ahead of the Charity Shield," said Nor Azlan
  Meanwhile, Ipoh City Council-MBI have submitted a protest following their 4-2 defeat to Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) on Friday.
  The protest, submitted by team manager Hakimi Abdul Hamid, claimed that UiTM had 12 players on the pitch until the 63rd minute of the match.
 The MHL technical committee will deliberate on it today.
 RESULT -- Maybank 2 Terengganu 1.
 SUNDAY -- Premier Division: Nur Insafi Warriors v UniKL (USM Stadium; 6pm), Sapura v Maybank (6pm), TNB v KLHC (8pm).
  Division One: TNB Thunderbolts v Uniten (6pm), UiTM v SSTMI (8pm), Ipoh-MBI v Sunday 2030 KL (Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium; 6pm).
  (Matches at National Hockey Stadium pitches unless stated otherwise).

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kiradech digs in..

LASHING rain over the last three days cut the Maybank Malaysian Open to a 54-hole event, as Thai-phoon Kiradech Aphibarnrat dug in like a rodent preparing for an all out Sunday assault.
  After completing round two, none of the players managed to complete the third when the skies opened up at 4pm, forcing the organisers to
shorthen the tournament with a re-start at 9.45am today.
  The last time the Open was played over 54 holes was in 2006, also at the KLGCC. Korean Charlie Wi lifted the thropy then on 19-under 197.
  Kiradech is in position of erasing his defeat at the Open three years ago when he pulled two shots clear with a four-under-par 68 for an 11-under 133.
  But he was stopped at the second hole, after an opening birdie was followed by a bogey to remain at 11-under.
  Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel playing in the last group with Kiradech, trails by one while a group of seven players, who include China’s Wu Ashun, three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Ryder Cup stars Edoardo Molinari and Anders Hansen, are a further shot back on nine-under.
  Big-hitting Kiradech, dubbed Asia’s John Daly, is determined to close out the Maybank Malaysian Open after coming close three years ago when he entered the final round as the co-leader only to finish joint third.
  “I’ve learned a lot from that. I’ve grown up in three years and I have learned a lot on how to play under pressure and how to play when you need to win. I think I have more experience and I hope it will help me tomorrow (today),” said the 23-year-old former world amateur champion.
   With 16 holes separating him from a second Asian Tour title, the burly Thai, who has been suffering from the effects a lingering thyroid problem, knows he holds an advantage although he expects Schwartzel to mount a big charge on Sunday.
  “I feel better. You can say I have more chance to win now that it’s 54 holes. It’s a good chance for me to win my first co-sanctioned title. I still have to do my best and it’ll be tough work tomorrow. Charl is a good player. He’s a top player and he can catch up. I will just do my best. If I can keep playing like how I have been doing in the first two days, I will have a chance,” said Kiradech, who finished fourth in last week’s Avantha Masters in India and also qualified for the British Open last month.
   Schwartzel, who won the Thailand Golf Championship in December and has eight European Tour titles under his belt, birdied his opening hole of the third round to signal his intent of winning his first Malaysian Open title.  He also wants to keep the title in South Africa’s hands following last year’s triumph by close friend Louis Oosthuizen.
   The 27-year-old Wu, bidding to become the third Chinese to win a co-sanctioned tournament after Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong, parred his first two holes of the third round to stay two shots back of Kiradech.
   “I think I still have a good chance. I’m in the championship group and the leaderboard is very tight. It is three rounds now so anything can happen. I have to go back and sleep! Hopefully I get enough rest and play well,” said Wu, who became the first Chinese to win in Japan last season.
   “I have to pray hard … My game is in very good shape and I feel confident. Everything is good. I’m just happy to be in this tournament. Any finish is good for me. I don’t want to think about winning yet. I just want to stay happy,” added the smiling Chinese, who is playing on a sponsor’s invitation.
   India’s Jeev Milkha Singh made a charge up the leaderboard by playing his 11 holes in five under and moving up to eight-under for the championship.
  S. Murthy, one of three Malaysians to make the halfway cut, stands at six-under through four holes of his third and final round with 19-year-old amateur Gavin Green a further shot back where he is two under for his round through 10 holes.


Murthy back in contention with eagle..

A GOOD night’s sleep saw veteran S. Murthy return with a stunning seven iron shot for an eagle to lift his game back into contention at the halfway stage of the Maybank Malaysian Open on Saturday morning.
  The 42-year-old, then went into his third round, four-off the leaders after a 67-70 saw him at seven-under, but his game was yet again stopped short by a lashing thunderstorm.
  It might just be another blessing as he hit a bogey in his second hole itself, when rain halted third round play at 4pm, for him to go for glory on Sunday.
  Murthy almost blew his second round as he appeared to be slipping when he soared to three over through eight holes before being saved by fading light on Friday.
  A disappointed Murthy came out charging in the morning, shooting an eagle on the sixth hole, four birdies and a bogey for a two-under-par 70 and a seven-under-par 137 total to lie in tied seventh place at the cut.
   “This is golf,” explained Murthy about his quick turn in fortunes.
   “I kept my focus, kept aiming at fairways and greens. I holed out from 170 yards with a seven iron on the (par four) sixth hole (for eagle). It was dead centre and it went in the hole. It was a nice feeling. And then I birdied eight and nine. I need to stay focused. Two more rounds to go.”
  With his best finish being tied 56th in 1999, Murthy could well provide the silver lining as Malaysia has never produced its own champion at the Maybank Malaysian Open.
  Murthy is game to give it a shot but reckons he needs the crowd support to give him a lift as he challenges the likes of leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Wu Ashun and Charl Schwartzel for the Seagram Trophy.
  “Since I’m already in this position, there’s nothing to lose,” he said.
  “I always enjoy the crowd support. Looking forward to some crowds in the third round following my group.”
  With the typical Malaysian afternoon thunderstorms being a bane for players, Murthy knows he must remain patient to keep up his glorious run.
  “I waited so long (to tee off yesterday) and it wasn’t the weather’s fault that I played poorly. It was my own fault for the bad start. As a player, you have to prepare well. I hit a few good shots but made two three putts on 11 and 14 for bogeys. Suddenly, I was three over for the day. Then play stopped which was quite good for me,” said Murthy.
  “As a golfer, you deal with the weather problems. I prepared myself. I hit a few balls yesterday while waiting for my tee time (2.50pm) and then started to eat a bit and have some drinks to relax myself. Hit some balls again and kept warm.”
  He arrived at KLGCC a bit earlier than usual yesterday morning to spend more time at the practice putting green, which paid off as his putter got hot on the back nine.
  “After last night, I felt bad. I couldn’t really take it especially the 11th hole. It is a tough par three but I hit the green and then made a three putt. I felt bad after that and then missed again on 14. When I came back this morning, I spent a bit more time on the practice green. I just tried to stay calm.
  “I’m swinging it good, it feels great. I was putting well this morning.”
  Since turning 40, Murthy has enjoyed a new lease of life by winning twice on the local PGM Tour. He credited his coach, whom he knows only as “Mathy”, for his turn around in golfing fortunes.
  “I’ve been working on my back swing with my coach. Previously, it was more inside and now it’s more parallel. I’ve worked with Mathy for two years now. I saw him and then started winning two local tournaments. It’s helped a lot.”
  Amateur  Gacvin Green was just a step behind at five-under at the 10th hole of the third round, while Danny Chia was even par at the ninth hole.

Only three left standing...

THE 22-strong Malaysian contingent in the Maybank Malaysian Open was cut short to only three, as 19 others fell by the wayside at the rain-battered Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
  While S. Murthy, Danny Chia and amateur Gavin Kyle Green will see action until Sunday, the most notable exit was made by Shaaban Hussin.
  Shaaban was the only Malaysian who made the half-way cut in the Open last year, but he was shown the exit door after rounds of 75-74 for a total of five over 149.
  The cut was set at 144.
  The other pprofessionals who failed were Sukree Othman (73-72), Nicholas Fung (72-75), S. Siva Chandran (72-75), R. Nachimuthu (70-80), Rashid Ismail 81-69), Kenneth de Silva 74-77) and P. Gunasegaran (77-75).
  While the amateurs who gained valuable two-rounds of practice were Solomon Emilio (77-70), Arie Fauzi (74-75), Low Khai Jei (82-73), Abel Tam (76-81) and Afif Mohamed (83-82).

Rain halts Third Round..


(173 made the cut)
133 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thai) 65-68.
135 Charl Schwartzel (SA) 67-68, Wu Ashun (Chn) 67-68, Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 66-69, Wade Ormsby (NZ) 70-65.
136 Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 67-69, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 70-66.
137 Padraig Harrington (Irl) 69-68, David Howell (Eng) 69-68, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 66-71, S. Murthy (Mas) 67-70, Peter Lawrie (Irl) 68-69, Alexander Noren (Swe) 69-68.
138 Scott Jamieson (Sco) 66-72, Liang Wen-chong (Tpe) 70-68, Lee Slattery (Eng) 68-70, Mark Foster (Eng) 69-69, Lee-sung (S Kor) 68-69.
139 Prom Meesawat (Tha) 68-71, Rafa Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 72-67, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 69-70, Alastair Forsyth (Sco) 69-70, Joonas Granberg (Fin) 71-68, Anders Hansen (Den) 66-73, Simon Khan (Eng) 71-68.
140 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 71-69, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 69-71, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 70-70, Jean Gonnet (Fra) 70-70, Joost Luiten (Fra) 69-71, Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 70-70.
141 Gavin Green (Mas) 73-68, Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) 69-72, Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 71-70, Ignacio Garrido (Spa) 70-71, Chinnarat Phadungsil (Tha) 70-71, Andrew Dodt (NZ) 69-72, Gunn Charoenkul (Thai) 71-70, Fredrik Andersson Hed (Swe) 68-73.
142 Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 75-67, Robert Derksen (Ned) 72-70, Angelo Que (Phi) 70-72, Adilson Da Silva (Bra) 68-74, Berry Henson (Usa) 71-71, Mardan Mamat (Sin) 70-72, Danny Chia (Mas) 71-71, Masanori Kobayashi (Jpn) 72-70, Thomas Aiken (SA) 71-71.
143 Mohd Siddikur (Ban) 71-72, Kim Gi-whan (S Kor) 70-73, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 72-71, Thitiphun Chuayprakong (Tha) 72-71, Mo Joong-kyung (Kor) 71-72, Shiv Kapur (Ind) 72-71, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 73-70, Phillip Price (Wal) 72-71, Julien Quesne (Fra) 72-71.
144 Richard Green (Nzl) 74-70, Jbe Kruger (Rsa) 73-71, Scott Barr (NZ) 75-69, Johan Edfors (Swe) 76-68, Baek Seuk-hyun (S Kor) 72-72, Romain Wattel (Fra) 75-69, Thaworn Wiratchant (Thai) 73-71, Oliver Fisher (Eng) 69-75, Thongchai Jaidee (Thai) 70-74, Thomas Levet (Fra) 73-71, Stephen Gallacher (Sco) 71-73, Steve Webster (Eng) 71-73, Marcus Fraser (NZ) 69-75, Lee In-woo (S Kor) 71-73, Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 71-73, James Morrison (Eng) 76-68.

KLHC sizzle, TNB struggle

By Ajitpal Singh

DEFENDING champions KL Hockey Club (KLHC) got off to a great start in the Malaysian Hockey League while Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) needed a late goal to salvage a draw in yesterday's Premier Division matches in Bukit Jalil.
  KLHC, led by six foreign players, outplayed Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) 5-0 at National Hockey Stadium.
  Pakistan international Akhtar Ali scored two quick goals in the third and fourth minutes before Razie Rahim extended KLHC's lead with a penalty corner conversion in the 20th minute.
   Chua Boon Huat (37th) and Harvinder Singh (61st) completed the rout.
  Despite taking a 2-0 lead after 25 minutes, TNB, last season's league runners-up, were held 4-4 by newcomers Terengganu in an earlier match.
  TNB coach Nor Azlan Bakar said a point from the match was better than not earning anything.
  "I am not too worried as this is only our first match. As we are still trying out combinations, I tested all the players today (yesterday). We need to improve defensively and minimise mistakes," said Nor Azlan at National Hockey Stadium yesterday.
  Terengganu coach Nik Rozemi Nik Mohamed, delighted with the draw, said: "I am using this tournament, mainly to prepare the juniors for next year's Malaysia Games.
  "Apart from the eight seniors, the others are being groomed for the Malaysia Games. A point from this match is a good result as TNB are an established side. I packed my midfield after halftime and it made the difference," said Nik Rozemi.
  Terengganu's Mohd Shahrun Nabil deflected the ball past his own goalkeeper Khairulnizam Ibrahim to give TNB the lead after 13 minutes before national striker Faizal Saari added a second in the 23rd minute.
  Terengganu, however, reduced the deficit in the 30th minute through Sufi Ismat Rahul Amin before taking a 3-2 lead with goals from Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Jalil (40th) and Fitri Saari (41st).
  TNB drew level through Faizal's penalty corner trademark flick but Sobirin Ilias regained Terengganu's lead in the 64th minute.
  Muhammad Ramadhan Rosli salvaged a point for TNB when he rifled home from close range four minutes from time.
  RESULTS -- Premier Division: Tenaga Nasional Berhad 4 Terengganu 4, Nur Insafi Warriors 1 Sapura 1, KLHC 5 UniKL 0.
  Division One: SSTMI 0 TNB Thunderbolts 6, Ipoh-MBI 2 UiTM 4, Sunday 2030 KL 1 Uniten 3.
  FIXTURES -- SATURDAY: Premier Division: Maybank v Terengganu (National Hockey Stadium, Pitch II; 6pm).

Murthy back in the running..

All it needed was a good night’s sleep and a stunning seven iron shot for a glorious eagle to lift Malaysia’s S. Murthy back into contention at the halfway stage of the Maybank Malaysian Open on Saturday morning.
   The 42-year-old veteran, who heads into the third round later this afternoon four off the pace, is emerging as the surprise package at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club although his tournament appeared to be slipping from out of his grasps when he soared to three over through eight holes of his second round before being saved by fading light on Friday.
   A disappointed Murthy regrouped last night and came out charging in the morning, shooting an eagle on the sixth holes, four birdies and a bogey for a two-under-par 70 and a seven-under-par 137 total to lie in tied seventh place.
  "This is golf,” explained Murthy about his quick turn in fortunes.
  “I kept my focus, kept aiming at fairways and greens. I holed out from 170 yards with a seven iron on the sixth hole (for eagle). It was dead centre and it went in the hole. It was a nice feeling. And then I birdied eight and nine. I need to stay focused. Two more rounds to go.”
  With his best finish being tied 56th  in 1999, Murthy could well provide the silver lining as Malaysia has never produced its own champion at the Maybank Malaysian Open. Murthy is game to give it a shot but reckons he needs the crowd support to give him a lift as he challenges the likes of leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Wu Ashun and Charl Schwartzel for the Seagram Trophy.
  “Since I’m already in this position, there’s nothing to lose,” he said.
  “I always enjoy the crowd support. Looking forward to some crowds in the third round following my group.”
  With the typical Malaysian afternoon thunderstorms being a bane for players, Murthy knows he must remain patient to keep up his glorious run.
  “I waited so long (to tee off yesterday) and it wasn’t the weather’s fault that I played poorly. It was my own fault for the bad start. As a player, you have to prepare well. I hit a few good shots but made two three putts on 11 and 14 for bogeys. Suddenly, I was three over for the day. Then play stopped which was quite good for me,” said Murthy.
  “As a golfer, you deal with the weather problems. I prepared myself. I hit a few balls yesterday while waiting for my tee time (2.50pm) and then started to eat a bit and have some drinks to relax myself. Hit some balls again and kept warm.”
  He arrived at KLGCC a bit earlier than usual this morning to spend more time at the practice putting green, which paid off as his putter got hot on the back nine.
  “After last night, I felt bad. I couldn’t really take it especially the 11th hole. It is a tough par three but I hit the green and then made a three putt. I felt bad after that and then missed again on 14. When I came back this morning, I spent a bit more time on the practice green. I just tried to stay calm.
  “I’m swinging it good, it feels great. I was putting well this morning.”
  Since turning 40, Murthy has enjoyed a new lease of life by winning twice on the local PGM Tour. He credited his coach, whom he knows only as “Mathy”, for his turn around in golfing fortunes.
  “I’ve been working on my back swing with my coach. Previously, it was more inside and now it’s more parallel. I’ve worked with Mathy for two years now. I saw him and then started winning two local tournaments. It’s helped a lot.”

Thai-phoon Kiradech!

THAI rising star Kiradech Aphibarnrat is in position of erasing his defeat at the Maybank Malaysian Open three years ago when he pulled two shots clear with a four-under-par 68 in the second round on Saturday.
 The big-hitting Thai known for his grip-it and rip-it style of golf which somewhat mirrors John Daly’s game, returned this morning to finish the second round after play was abandoned on Friday.
 The halfway cut was set an even-par 144 with 73 players making the cut. World number three Luke Donald of England will not feature in the last two rounds after shooting a three-over-par 147.
 Kiradech made eight straight pars when play was resumed at 7.45am at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club but kept a cool head on a rather steamy morning. He was rewarded for his patience with a birdie on 18 after hitting an exquisite approach to three feet.
 “I enjoyed my game. I had to cool myself down out there because I only had my first birdie of the day on the last hole. It was a good finish. I tried to stay calm out there because of the heat. I need to save my energy,” said the 23-year-old, who totalled 11-under-par 133.
 He holds a two-shot lead over former Masters Tournament winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, Wade Ormsby of Australia, Gregory Bourdy of France and China’s Wu Ashun at the US$2.75 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
 The memory of finishing third in 2010 after going into the last day as the joint leader is still fresh in his mind but Kiradech says he is more experienced now to seal the deal for a second Asian Tour win since 2011.
 “I was very excited three years ago but I’ve learned a lot since then. I’m much older now and I learned a lot on the Asian Tour. I hope to finish better than 2010,” said Kiradech, who qualified for his first Open Championship debut through the International Final Qualifying – Asia earlier this month.
 “I’ve been playing very well since the start of the year and my game has stayed up there. My iron and approach shots are better compared to last time. My driver isn’t working as well as I would like it to be so hopefully it will work in the last two days.”
 The penultimate round will start at 1.15pm with the leading flight going off at 3.05pm which gives Kiradech time to rest and preserve energy. “I want to go back to the hotel and rest, take a shower and relax to save energy.”

Friday, March 22, 2013

Zakir Hussain: Passing of a great man

Former director general of Pakistan Sports Board and sports analyst Zakir Hussain Syed. PHOTO: EXPRESS 

(EDS  NOTE: Zakir covered the Azlan  Shah Cup in Ipoh last week and sat next to me.  I have known him for a long time as he is quite a regular at the Azlan Shah Cup in recent years. He gave me his calling card and said if I ever was in Pakistan, do visit him and he will be glad to accommodate me. RIP my friend...) 

ISLAMABAD:  Former director general of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and sports analyst Zakir Hussain Syed passed away on Thursday at Fatima Jinnah Park where he was on a routine evening walk. He was 73.
His funeral will be held on Friday at 2:30 pm at his ancestral town Kotli Amir Ali, Sialkot. He was awarded the President’s Medal for the Pride of Performance. He was the first recipient of such a highest honour in sports administration and management in the country.
Zakir Hussain was the first Pakistani chief executive of the PSB. As the youngest ever director general of the board, he came to this organisation as a virtually unknown commodity and left behind a legacy of success and brilliance.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2013.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Aphibarnrat takes clubhouse lead on seven-under

THAILAND'S rising star Kiradech Aphibarnrat battled through fatigue for a sizzling seven-under-par 65 to take the clubhouse lead in the rain-disrupted US$2.75 million Maybank Malaysian Open opening round yesterday.
  Play was stopped at 4pm, and called off for the day an hour later when torrential rain flooded the greens and lightning lit up the sky like it was Merdeka celabrations. There were still 78 (total 156) players who had yet to complete their First Round.
  However, there are three others who finished their rounds and are snapping at the Thai's heels at six-under and they are Anders Hanson of Denmark, Edoardo Molinari of Italy and Gregory Bourdy of France. Scotland's Scott Jamieson is also at six under, but his play charged was stopped at the 10th hole by rain.
  Malaysia's S. Murthy was also in his element as he fired five-under 67 to place himself in contention for a good finish on Sunday.
  Aphibarnrat, only 23, is suffering from a thyroid disease, and had to hold back from blasting his tee shots to preserve energy on a steamy morning at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
  Despite the change in his game plan, Kiradech posted eight birdies against one bogey to hold a one-shot club-house lead.
  “The weather is too hot and the thyroid disease is making me feel tired. Honestly, I didn’t have enough energy to hit long drives. I’m still taking medication for my thyroid condition and I’ll consider going for operation when I consult my doctor in six months,” said Kiradech.
  Kiradech is enjoying a sensational season so far. He finished third at the Asian Tour’s season-opening Zaykabar Myanmar Open and qualified for his maiden appearance at The Open Championship by winning the International Final Qualifying – Asia in Thailand earlier this month. He also placed fourth at last week’s Avantha Masters.
  However, he is keeping his hopes of winning a second Asian Tour title at bay considering the condition he is in.
   “I didn’t force myself or any of my golf shots. I didn’t set myself any goals for this week. I didn’t tell myself that I should finish in the top-five or win this event. I want to take things shot by shot. When you don’t have power or energy, you can’t force yourself,” said Kiradech.
   Molinari, a two-time European Tour winner, shot his best score since March last year after working with a new coach, Sean Foley, who also trains Tiger Woods.
   “It was a good round of golf…finally. I was able to make a lot of putts but missed a short one on eight and a few other chances. I’ve been struggling for a while so it was good to have a good first round,” said Molinari.
   “He (Foley) is making big changes. I need big changes because I didn’t like the way I was playing last year. I felt it wasn’t right. I felt it was time to change. I like what he says and I have a lot more knowledge on what I’m doing on the golf course. As soon as I missed a shot on the course then I know how to fix it,” he added.
  Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington made a good start with a three under par 69 to share tenth, but World Number Three Luke Donald could only manage a 74.

Rain spoils half the party at KLGCC...

65 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thai).
66 Anders Hansen (Den), Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Gregory Bourdy (Fra).
67 S. Murthy (Mas), Victor Dubisson (Fra).
68 LEE Sung (S. Kor), Fredrik Andersson (Swe), Peter Lawrie (Irl), Adilson da Silva (Bra).
69 Padraig Harrington (Irl), David Howell (Eng), Alexander Noren (Swe), Marcus Fraser (Aus), Andrew Dodt (Aus), Mark Foster (Eng), Joost Luiten (Ned), Marcus Both (Aus), Oliver Fisher (Eng).
70 Angelo Que (Phil), Mikko Ilonen (Fin), R. Nachimuthu (Mas), Chinnarat Phadungsil (Thai), Thongchai Jaidee (Thai), Emilliano Grillo (Arg), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Mardan Mamat (Sing), Tommy Fleetwood (Eng).
71 Gunn Charoenkul (Thai), Steve Webster (Eng), Stephen Gallacher(Scot), Danny Chia (Mas), Simon Khan (Eng), Thomas Aiken (SA), Lee In-woo (S. Kor), Mo Joong-kyung (S. Kor), Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Matthew Baldwin (Eng), Berry Henson (US), Jaakko Makitalo (Fin).
  72 Shiv Kapur (Ind), Julien Quesne (Fra), Digvijay Singh (Ind), Chan Yih-shin (Tai), Masanori Kobayashi (Jpn), Antonio Lascuna (Phil), Phillip Price (Wal).
  73 Zaw Moe (Myan), Thaworn Wiratchant (Thai), Thomas Levet (Fra), Michael Campbell (NZ).
  74 Luke Donald (Eng), Scott Hend (Aus), Anirban Lahiri (Ind), Arnond Vongvanij (Thai), Anthony Kang (US), Park Hyun-bin (S. Kor).
  75 Shaaban Hussin (Mas), Mithun Perera (Sri), Jason Knutzon (US), David Lipsky (US), Fabrizio Zanotti (Par), Ricardo Santos (Por).
  76 Kieran Pratt (Aus), James Morrison (Eng), Airil Zzhari (Mas).
  77 Solomon Emilio Rosidin (am, Mas), Mohamed Basharudin (Mas), Kemarol Baharin (Mas).
78 Akhmal Tarmizee (Mas), Juvic Pagunsan (Phil), Uhno Park (Aus).
79 M. Sasidaran (Mas), Hanafiah Jamil (Mas).
81 Rashid Ismail (Mas).
82 Low Khai Jei (am, Mas).

Malaysia Hockey League starts Friday..

PREMIER DIVISION: KL Hockey Club, Tenaga Nasional, Maybank, Sapura, UniKL, Nur Insafi, Terengganu.
  Division One: Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School, Bukit Jalil Sports School, UniTen KPT, UiTM, Sunday 2030, Ipoh City Council, TNB Thunderbolts.
   FRIDAY: Permier Division -- Tenaga v Terengganu (National Stadium II, 6pm), Nur Insafi v Sapura (USM, 6pm), KLHC v UniKL (National Stadium II, 8pm).
  Division One: SSTMI v Thunderbolts (Taman Daya, 6pm), Ipoh CC v UiTM (Azlan Shah, 6pm), Sunday 2030 v UniTen (National Stadium I, 6pm),  
   SATURDAY: Premier Division -- Maybank v Terengganu (National Stadium II, 6pm).
   SUNDAY: Premier Division -- Sapura v Maybank (National Stadium II, 6pm), NUr Insafi v UniKL (USM, 6pm), Tenaga v KLHC (National Stadium II, 8pm).
  Division One: Thunderbolts v UniTen (National Stadium I, 6pm),
UiTM v SSTMI (National Stadium I, 8pm), Ipoh CC v Sunday 2030 (Azlan Shah, 6pm).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Matteo tips for Gavin..

ITALIAN teenager Matteo Manassero, the 2011 Maybank Malaysian Open winner, is back much wiser at 19, for more fun-filled rounds at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
  Back then, the shot a 4-under 68 on Sunday to earn a one-stroke victory by upstaging Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Rory McIlroy.
  Manassero had an eagle on the par-5 10th and added two birdies on the back nine to finish at 16-under 272 two days before his 18th birthday.
  Yesterday, he played in the Pro-Am with Malaysian amateur Gavin Kyle Green and 'co-incidently' they will be on the same flight in Round 1 together with Gaganjeet Bhullar of India.
  "Well, the amateur (Gavin) played really well and I am happy for him that he managed to play with me before the tournament so we could get used toeach other," said the Italian.
  And did he give any advise to the amateur?
  "Actually, he hit 40 yards further than me in the pro-am, and I don't think he need any advise on that matter.
  "But we did talk about tactics, and how to plan for a tournament, and I hope it would be helpful tomorrow (today). I also spoke to his father, who caddies for him, and we are looking forward to a good start," said Manassero.
  On his preparations for the Open, Manassero said he has shed six kilos in the last six weeks, and feels much 'faster' now.
  "The hip is moving just right, and I feel much more stronger and faster after six weeks of working out.
  "And with such a good course, and many places to be comfortable at the hotel, I am feeling at my best a day before," said Manassero.

Always attracts the best..

THE US$2.75 million Maybank Malaysian Open has never failed to attract the best in the world, and today will be no different as world number three Luke Donald will be among the title contenders at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
  The Englishman will be making a debut appearance at the Malaysian Open and is in fine form after finishing tied fourth in his title defense of the Tampa Bay Championship in the United States on Sunday.
  He is also the first man to win the money lists in Europe and US in 2011. Having arrived Malaysia on Tuesday, the Englishman is eager to overcome jet-lag to claim his first title of the year.
   Then there is Asia's best Gaganjeet Bhullar, who made a brave final round charge at the Avantha Masters in India on Sunday but finished second. However, his result propelled him to the top of the Order of Merit and the four-time Asian Tour winner is among an elite cast of Indian stars this week and is highly tipped to contend for the title.
  Malaysia's most successful golfer Danny Chia summed up the situation when he said: "The Malaysian Open has always attracted top-10 golfers over the years and even though we Malaysians have never won the title, it is our only chance of playing alongside the best and also for the local fans to watch their idols playing in front of them, instead on on television."
   So, as the Malaysian golfers, 16 professionals and six amateurs, take a back-seat, the focus will be on the likes of South African Charl Schwartzel, who will be making his third straight appearance at the Maybank Malaysian Open. His best result in the event was sixth in last year’s edition. He is riding a fine form with three top-10 results albeit without a victory so far this season. Something he is eager to change this week.
   And the Open is never a dull moment for the Thais' who have the likes of Thongchai Jaidee who won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005, but the veteran will find the going tough in his chase to win the title and move closer to the top-50 in the world from his present 59th, which he needs to enter by the first week of April to qualify for the Masters Tournament.
  Then there is Thaworn Wiratchant, ranked 81st in the world and has a wealth of experience playing in Malaysia. His best result in the Malaysian Open was tied eighth in the 2004 edition.
  Padraig Harrington of Ireland is a three-time Major champion but will play this week without his trusted driver. However he has a new pair of glasses which he hopes will give him a clear vision of the Seagram trophy which awarded to the champion.
   He has a good record in Malaysia where he won the 2010 Iskandar Johor Open on the Asian Tour and finished tied 13th at the 2006 Maybank Malaysian Open which was also staged at the Kuala Lumpur GCC.    He was also runner-up behind Vijay Singh of Fiji in 2001.
  Star Players Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Matteo Manassero and Charl Schwartzel are already worthy winners when they teed-off in a once-in-a-lifetime “Star Experience for Charity” golf game as part of a charity initiative for the Maybank Malaysian Open.
  They managed to collect a total of RM40,000 and the amount was matched with another RM40,000 by Maybank’s charitable arm, Maybank Foundation making the total RM80,000.
  The Open has produced many surprise winners over the years, and it would be a real surprise if any of the 22 Malaysians even come close to the top-10 on Sunday.

Gaganjeet oozing with confidence..

INDIA'S rising start and Asian Tour leader Gaganjeet Bhullar was oozing with confidence yesterday, and said only the weather can derail his plans of making an impact in the Malaysian Open.
  "My putting has been simply great and in the modern game, where the leaders normally hit 15 greens of more in a round, that is what separates the winners form the runners-up," said the Avantha Masters runner-up with rounds of 68-69-67-64 for a 268 total.
  And the fact that he likes the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club will make the tournament more exciting for him.
  "I love this course and it looks like the roughs are not really
rough this year and the greens are playing just right. It could mean a very low winning score, if the rain does not spoil our party.
  And just as he mentioned the rain, it started to drizzle at the
KLGCC as a showcase of what one might expect this weekend.
  Gaganjeet's second spot last weekend propelled him to the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit, as he leads with earnings of US$262,648.
  When asked about the state of golf in India, Gaganjeet predicted that it will take at least another 10 to 15 years to produce a bigger pool of players back home.
  "When gold made it to the Olympics, our government started to take more notice of its development and last I heard that 35 new courses were under construction.
  "As a former Asian Games player myself, I would love to play in the Olympics as it is the pinnacle of the sporting world. As even though we only won silver (2006 Doha), I remember the many functions and accolades that we received a result.
  "So, if I get a chance to play in the Olympics, it would be the
biggest moment of my life," said the 24-year-old.

Danny Chia bracing himself..

DANNY Chia did not make the cut last year, and he believes he is in for more tough rounds at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
  "It is always tough for me to play in front of the home crowd, as the pressure is never easy to overcome.
  "Sure, it's easy for me to console myself by saying that I am playing against the course, and there should be no pressure of the big names around it.
  "But it is easier said that done. From past experience, when I'm on the first tee in the first round, the pressure is killing," said Danny who won the ADT Tour at the PGM Northport Glenmarie Masters, but then blew his game in India the very next weekend.
  "The ADT win gave my some confidence, but I have never liked to play in India and my record there for the past 10 years speaks for itself.
  "I never got used to the atmosphere and food there, and even though this is bad coming from a professional, but that's the fact.
  "And in the Malaysian open, I always have one bad round which spoils everything for me. Sure, every good player goes through the same experience but their bad day is two or one under, while mine is two to three over.
  "If I can just turn by bad round into an under, then this is going to be a wonderful tournament," said Danny.
  Last year, only Shaaban Hussin made the cut while all the other Malaysian's fell by the cut.
  "I believe we have two good challengers who will do well this year and they are fast improving Gavin (Green) and Nicholas (Fung).
  "Gavin has been playing very well and when I teed-off with him recently, he has shown maturity and should be the Malaysian to watch in this tournament.
  "As for Nicholas, he has been hitting very well and this could turn out to be the turning point for him as well," said Danny.

22 Malaysians to the fore..

SIX Malaysian amateurs will be among the 22 Malaysian golfers vying for honours at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club from today.
  The six were picked after the Maybank Malaysian Open National Qualifier and they are Gavin Kyle Green, Arie Ahmad Fauzi, Low Khai Jei, Abel Tham, Afif Mohd Radzi and Solomon Emilio Rosidin.
 Twenty year old Gavin has been making his mark in the golf scene ever since he chose golf as his sport of choice. He was the youngest participant in an Asian Tour event when he played in the Iskandar Johor Open at the age of 13.
  He is currently majoring in Business at the University of New Mexico.
  Arie Arawan currently plays for the University of Tulsa in his junior season. He is a promising golf talent who has won the Malaysian Amateur StrokePlay Championship in 2008.
  And sixteen-year-old Low Khai Jei is another amateur talent who was also chosen to be part of Maybank Malaysian Open last.
  The 16 Malaysian professionals in the hunt are Danny Chia, Shaaban Hussin, Akhmal Tarmizee, Rashid Ismail, S. Murthy, S. Sivachandhran, Azman Basharuddin, Kenneth De Silva, Nicholas Fung, Sukree Othman Rashid, R. Nanchimuthu, Airil Rizman Zahari and National Qualifier winners Kemarol Baharin, Sasidaran Muthiah, Hanafiah Jamil and P. Gunasegaran.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Malaysia shortlisted for 2018 World Cup..

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is pleased to announce that in its meeting on Saturday, the FIH Executive Board confirmed the shortlist of applicants for the Hockey World Cups 2018 to include Australia, Belgium, England, India, Malaysia and New Zealand.
The expressions of interest received for the World Cups were part of the larger Event Assignment Process launched by FIH at the FIH Congress in November 2012 to assign the unallocated events for the period of 2014 to 2018 before the end of this year. Aside from excellent interest in the World Cups, there was also an enthusiastic response for a number of other events, like the Hockey Junior World Cups 2017 and a new type of “Champions Event”, but particularly for the Hockey World League Semi-Final events which will serve as the main Olympic qualifying event in 2015 and the main World Cup qualifying event in 2017.
Of the applicants shortlisted for the World Cup, Australia, England, India and Malaysia have previous experience hosting hockey's pinnacle event, with India having hosted the latest men's edition only three years ago. Belgium and New Zealand are new to bidding for the World Cup but have both successfully hosted international events in recent years, such as last year's Women's Olympic Qualifier and the Men's Champions Trophy 2011 respectively.
Both the Men's and Women's Hockey World Cups 2018 will feature an increased 16-nation field of participants confirming the growing interest and development of the sport. Next year's highly anticipated Rabobank Hockey World Cup, taking place in The Hague, Netherlands, during the first two weeks of June, will see twelve men's and twelve women's teams compete in a joint tournament.
FIH President Leandro Negre commented, "The high interest to host by our Member Associations, especially for the World Cup, is extremely encouraging and we are very happy with the positive reaction to the FIH's new event assignment process. This successful first phase reaffirms our efforts to develop and strengthen our event brands and confirms the FIH's choice to select hosts much further in advance than previously."
In the next step of the process, all Hockey World Cup applicants will receive detailed event and bidding documentation and participate in a one day workshop on 7 May in Lausanne to allow them to prepare their bids in advance of the 31 August 2013 submission deadline.
On 8 November 2013, the FIH will announce the hosts, venues and dates of the Hockey World Cups 2018.
The shortlist of applicants for the Hockey World Cups 2018 consists of the following National Associations:
Australia (Men and/or Women)
Belgium (Men and/or Women)
England (Women)
India (Men)
Malaysia (Men)
New Zealand (Men and/or Women)

Primed for World Cup qualifiers..

IF THE Azlan Shah Cup was a prelude of the future, the Malaysian hockey team will not disappoint their fans again in the World League Semifinals and also the Asia Cup.
  Both the tournaments offer tickets to the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands, and Malaysia look poised to snatch one of the tickets in either the World League Semifinals in Johor Baru on June 29-July 7, or the Asia Cup in Ipoh, on Aug 24 to Sept 1.
  The fourth Azlan Shah Cup silver medal was special, as Malaysia first held 2010 World Cup champions Australia to a 1-1 draw in the pool stages and then lost narrowly 2-3 in the  final.
  For the record, Malaysia only lost one out of the six matches in Ipoh, but that was enough to deny the hosts the title which they have been waiting for 30 years, and 22 Editions.
  Not only was the stadium filled to the brim in all six Malaysian matches, but social media, Twitter and FaceBook were also on fire with fans clamoring for news and urging their men to keep marching forward.
  And nobody bashed them when they fell, because it was Australia, and not the Asian teams which Malaysia will battle again in the World League and Asia Cup.
  Malaysia beat South Korea 3-2, New Zealand 2-1, held Pakistan 2-2 and then drew 2-2 with India.
  That was the turning point in the life of Malaysian hockey, as these were the teams which had denied them the spot to the World Cup when we lost to New Zealand in the Invercargill Qualifier, and Olympics when we lost to South Korea in the Dublin Qualifier.
  Some might argue that the other teams were blooding many new players, and would be more dangerous when they re-group.
  To a certain degree, it the truth, but the rejuvenated Malaysia look capable of taking on the best with this bunch of players.
  After the final whistle against Australia, the most disappointed person was coach Paul Revington.
  Looking dejected, the coach laid down the law for his men.
  "The tournament was wonderful, but the defeat hard to swallow. I had expected a golden finish, but looking back, we will carry some valuable lessons from here into the next two important assignments this year," said the South African.
  For now, he will release his charges to Malaysia Hockey League clubs, as the senior league starts this Friday.
  However, the players that gave their all must now give their best in the MHL to be in Revington's plans for the future.
  "I will be scouting for more players from the MHL, and that means even the present players need to produce their best for their clubs if they want to continue representing the country," warned Revington.
  This is a major move from previous coaches, who selected players based on their history, and not their current form.
  As for the Azlan Shah Cup, there is always another edition to look forward to...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It was not to be...

MALAYSIA gave their all, but world No 2 Australia survived the onslaught and lifted their seventh Azlan Shah Cup with a last minute goal to win 3-2.
  The score stood at 2-2 and the clock showed three more seconds to sudden-death extra-time, but it was not to be as Trent Mitton broke the hearts of more than 20,000 people who were in and around the stadium.
  Two hours before the final, the Azlan Shah Stadium was packed to the brim with more than 15,000 fans, while those who could not squeeze in, made themselves comfortable at the big screen set up just outside the stadium.
  The atmosphere was electrical, with marching bands, vuvuzelas and cheering fans celebrating hours before Malaysia entered the pitch to play the World No 2.
  For the record, this is only the fourth final which Malaysia is playing in, after 22 Editions and 30 years. The other three were in
1985, 2007 and 2009; and only produced silver medals. Malaysia lost to India, Australia and India again in the other three finals.
  And Faizal Saari did not disappoint his fans, as it was only the fourth minute, and Malaysia won back-to-back penalty corners, when Faizal flicked home the lead and his sixth goal of the tournament.
  Malaysia were in control of the match, with Faiz Helmi and Faizal making inroads, while Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin could hardly move due to tight marking.
  But Just as the Malaysian players were getting comfortable, Australia won their first penalty corner of the half, and Nicholas Budgeon equalises in the 29th minute, while Craig Boyne makes it 2-1 for the Aussies off a field goal in the 30th minute.
  Malaysia were not broken, and won two penalty corners in the first five minutes after the breal, but Razie Rahim flicks it wide to the left, and then Faizal flicked it wide to the right.
  The crowd were solidly behind their men in yellow, and in the 49th minute a Marhan Jalil cross was cooly converted by Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and it was game on again.
  Australia used their might, their height and all they had, but Malaysia refuse to let in the third goal.
  But with three seconds on the clock, Malaysia were dealt a cruel blow as a powerfull drive taken by Trent Mitton graze the post and went sailing in for their seventh Azlan Shah Cup title.
  RESULTS: Final -- Malaysia 2 Australia 3; Third-Fourth: New Zealand 1 South Korea 2; Fifth-Sixth: India 4 Pakistan 2.

Malaysia 1 Australia 0 (nine mins to half-time)

Korea 3rd, India 5th..

SOUTH Korea lifted the Azlan Shah Cup bronze medal when they beat a last year's champions New Zealand 2-1.
  South Korea took the lead off Hyun Hye Sung in the 33rd minute, but New Zealand equalsied off Stephen Jenness in the 41st minute.
  The winner was delivered by Nam Hyun Woo in the 58th minute.
  In the earlier match, India beat Pakistan 4-2 to claim the fifth spot, and it was their second win against their neighbours, as they also won 3-1 in the group stage.
  Pakistan took the lead through Muhammad Imran off their first penalty corner in the eigtht minutes, after the flicker opted to push low on the keepers right instead of his normal high left.
  But India hit back in the 16th minute through Rupinder Pal Singh, also off a penalty corner.
  Just when it looked that the two teams will walk off the pitch on level terms, India scored their second as Akashdeep Singh put the final touches to a pass from Mandeep Singh, just 35 seconds from the hooter.
  India went 3-1 up in the 43rd minute as Malak Singh deflected the ball past Imran but Pakistan reduced the deficit three minutes later, also through a deflection by Khasif Shah.
  India were awarded a penalty stroke in the 62nd minute which was converted by Rupinder Pal, who scored a total of six goals in the tournament.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Now for the gold after 22 Editions..

   "We really played very well in the last five minutes of all five matches, and that shows that Malaysia are a fighting side," said Malaysia coach Paul Revington.
  Any complacency as Malaysia were already in the final.
  "A little, but the positive thing is that going into the final, we came back from behind to draw the match to remain unbeaten in this tournament. That is very important to my plans.
  "Razie (who received a nasty knock) is fine, and against Australia, the World No 2, we will definately give it our best shot," said Revington.
  Faizal Saari, who topscored for Malaysia with five goals in the tournament, is looking forward to continuous support from the fans.
  "I urge the crowd to throw their full support behind the team like they have done in the past five matches as it is a defining moment for the country.
  "Malaysia has never won the title in 22 Editions (30 years) and we hope to correct that score tomorrow, with the undying help from the crowd," said Faizal.
  "We could have scored three or four more goals, and in future when we play Malaysia we will do just that," warned India coach Michael Nobbs, as India will also play in the Asia Cup in Ipoh for the ticket to the World Cup.
   And who did Nobbs pick to win the final: "Australia, of course."

Malaysia deny India bronze play-off..

THERE was hardly any standing room at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh yesterday when Malaysia entered the pitch to play against India.
  More than 15,000 supporters, with many more unable to enter, came to watch Malaysia play against India even though the hosts were already in the final courtsey of an Australian 3-2 win over New Zealand in the earlier match.
  However, Malaysia did not disappoint their fans, as they went for the jugular from the first whistle, and then played all out for 70 minutes to hold India to a 2-2 draw to ende the tournament without a defeat.
  And Faizal Saari scored his fourth goal of the tournament in the sixth minute off Malaysia's first penalty corner to send the crowd into wild celebrations.
  However, there was a tinge of sadness in the celebrations, as the patron of the tournament Sultan Azlan Shah did not get a chance to watch any of Malaysia's matches as he is not feeling well.
  The patron will also not be there to watch Malaysia play Australia in the final today, and Raja Nazrin Shah will hand out the Cup to the champions.
  India scored the equaliser when Mandeep finally got it right in the 20th minute when he connected a cross which went sailing just over Kumar's helmet into the back of the net.
  And off only their second penalty corner, India took the lead off Rupinder Pal Singh in the 48th minute.
  With one minute remaining on the clock, Malaysia won a penalty corner and Faizal's drag hit an India defender's shoulder and the umpire blew for a stroke. India protested and almost wakled out but coach Michael Nobbs convinces them to play on.
  Faizal steps to the spot, and flicks in the equaliser which relegated India to playing Pakistan in the fifth-sixth playoff.

  TODAY: Final -- Malaysia v Australia (8.30pm); Third-Fourth: New Zealand v South Korea (6pm); Fifth-Sixth: India v Pakistan (3.30pm).


               P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts

AUSTRALIA      5  3  2  0  17 9  11
MALAYSIA       5  2  3  0  10 8  9
N ZEALAND      5  2  0  3  11 9  6
KOREA          5  1  2  2  9  12 5
PAKISTAN       5  1  2  2  9  16 5
INDIA          5  1  1  3  9  11 4

  RESULTS: Korea 2 Pakistan 2, Australia 3 New Zealand 2, Malaysia 2 India 2.
  Note: All matches at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh.

Australia drag Malaysia into the final...

AUSTRALIA edged New Zealand 3-2 yesterday to drag Malaysia as well into the Azlan Shah Cup final in Ipoh today.
  With the expected win from the World No 2, Malaysia qualified for only their fourth Azlan Shah Cup final with a match in hand against India, but its not going to be a Sunday walk against the Aussies for Paul Revington and his men.
  The other three finals that Malaysia played in 1985, 2007 and 2009 only produced silver medals on all three occasions. Malaysia lost to India, Australia and India again in the other three finals.
  For the record, Malaysia held Australia 1-1 in the group stages.
  Australian coach Ric Charlsworth, three of his support staff, and player Timothy Bates did not turn up at the stadium yesterday as they were down with food poisoning.
  Graham Reid stood in as coach: "We only had a skeleton support staff today (yesterday) and it looks like Tim (Timothy) might even miss the final."
  On Malaysia, Reid was wary of their counter-attacks: "This is a really fast team, and we have to be on our toes for 70 minutes. What with backing from the capacity crowd (more than 13,000) every match, its not going to be an easy encounter."
  And it was the slowest of starts for Australia in the tournament, as they toyed around with the ball, and even failed to convert the three penalty corners that came their 15 minutes into the match.
  New Zealand started moving out of their own semi-circle with counter attacks, and kept defending the penalty corners that were awarded against them.
  And by the 27th minute, Australia only had five wasted penalty corners to show, but the Kiwis mounted another one of their rare counter-attacks, and Jacob Smith tapped home a square from close range to grab the lead.
  And just as the second half started, the rain also came poring down, and the Australians started singing to their origninal champions tune.
  Jacob Whetton's 38th and 39th minute field goals suddenly turned the tide on the Kiwis, and even before the cheers died down, Australia scored their third.
  And this time, it was Matt Gohdes turn to score a field goal in the 42nd minute.
  The match was stopped for 10 minutes in the 50th mark, as torrential rain flooded the pitch, but after resumption, New Zealand narrowed the score in the 56th minute with a penalty corner attempt from Cory Bennett.
  But it was too late a fightback, and Australia will now make an attempt for their seventh Azlan Shah Cup title against the three-time silver medalists hosts.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shahrun can feel the change..


SKIPPER Shahrun Nabil has played under many coaches since making his debut in the 2005 Junior World Cup, and feels Paul Revington has the most practical approach.
  "The coach is fast changing our mindset, which used to be a big problem in the past because many of us did not believe in ourselves.
  "Slowly, he has made us forget our rankings, as well as the rankings of the team which we will play and this has given us confidence needed to pull off upsets," said Shahrun.
  Shahrun, 28, with 190 caps, was a fighter from the start, but now looks more composed than in 2005 lad this scribe met while on his training rounds at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
  Malaysia, under coach Sarjit Singh, were just 60 days shy of the World Cup and sitting on the bench with the fingers of his right hand fully bandaged was Shahrun Nabil.
   "It is a sprain of the middle finger," said Shahrun then, but he still insisted on traveling to Europe a few days later to play against club sides, and one training match against the Netherlands national juniors at the Junior World Cup venue.
  That was the spirit he had eight years ago, but if somehow fizzled along the years as coaches came and went, but the fire is back in the skipper and his men, and they might just make the impossible possible by first qualifying for Malaysia's only fourth final, and then making a dash for the Cup which has eluded the hosts for 30 years in 21 editions.

An Australian favour?

WORLD No 2 Australia might just do Malaysia a favour when they play New Zealand in the final group match of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh on Saturday.
  The equation is simple, if Australia beat or hold New Zealand to a draw (6pm start), they will also take Malaysia along with them into the final on Sunday.
  And there would be no added pressure in the 8pm Malaysia versus India match.
  However, if New Zealand beat Australia, the Kiwis will play in the final, while Malaysia need to at least pull off a draw against India to shut Australia out.
  In 22 Editions of the Azlan Shah Cup, Malaysia have only made the finals in 1985, 2007 and 2009 but played bridesmate on all three occasions.
  "It looks promising, but still, there are some areas which need urgent attention in our desire to improve the world rankings of Malaysia as well as qualify for the World Cup," said Malaysian coach Paul Revington.
  That specific area is penalty corner conversions, which used to be Malaysia's strongest point in the past.
  However, the present flickers Faizal Saari and Razie Rahim have been off form lately. out of the 11 penalty corners won against Pakistan, Faizal scored one while Razie scored the other while nine went to waste and Pakistan walked away looking good with a draw.
   "I will have to look at the recording to see what happened to the other nine penalty corners, and work to improve this area for the next assignments," said Revington.
  India, languishing at the bottom of the six-team pool, will not be easy to beat but it might not come to that, if Australia play to script.
  The fans in Perak have filled the stadium during all four of Malaysia's matches, and today is expected to be no different.



               P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts

AUSTRALIA      4  2  2  0  14 7  8
MALAYSIA       4  2  2  0  8  6  8
N ZEALAND      4  2  0  2  9  6  6
KOREA          4  1  1  2  7  10 4
PAKISTAN       4  1  1  2  7  14 4
INDIA          4  1  0  3  7  9  3

  March 16:  Korea  v  Pakistan (4pm), Australia  v  New Zealand (6pm), Malaysia  v India (8pm).
  Note: All matches at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh.

KL Hockey Club hire six foreign guns..

 TOP OF THE WORLD: Ernst and Young players chairing their team manager George Koshy after winning the TNB-Malaysia Hockey League title at the TLDM Hockey Stadium in Lumut in 2006.

KUALA Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) yesterday confirmed that they have signed five Pakistan and One Australian player to boost their Malaysia Hockey League chances.
  The double champions, who started as Ernst and Young with foreign signings but then went local in 2005, were forced to look beyond our shores after six of their players left for Terengganu.
  "Terengganu's offer of at least RM7,000 per month (12-month
contract) was simply too good to resist and I lost six players to
them. And that's why I had to secure foreign help to defend our
titles," said KLHC team manager George Koshy who is also the national manager for the ongoing Azlan Shah Cup.
  The five Pakistan players are penalty corner flicker and skipper Mohammed Imran, Wassem Ahmad, Fareed Ahmad, Akhtar Ali and Umar Bhutta. The Australian is Tim Deavon.
  The MHL starts on March 22, and the early indications are that Tenaga Nasional and Terengganu are the early favourites.
  "I believe Tenaga Nasional are the best side this season, as not
only have they retained all their players, but also included good
midfielders in Marhan Jalil and Ramadhan Rosli.
  "TNB are also an all-round side with a good goalkeeper in S. Kumar and I so, KLHC might just be fighting for the second spot this year," said George.
   The other teams in the Premier Division of the MHL are Maybank, Sapura, Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) and Nur Insafi.
  And the seven teams in Division One are Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI), Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS), Uniten-KPT, UiTM, Sunday 2030, Ipoh City Council (MBI) and TNB-Thunderbolt.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pakistan derail Malaysia's plans..

MALAYSIA diced with thir nine lives and ended up sharing the spoils when they drew 2-2 with Pakistan in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
  Now, the hosts must beat India in their last match on Saturday to cement their spot in the final.
  There was not even standing space left when the match started, as more than 13,000 fans came to support the Malaysian team who only needed to beat Pakistan to play in only their fourth final.
   Faizal Saari received a green card for a silly mistake in the second minute, but he made up for the folly in the sixth minute itself.
  Malaysia played like they badly wanted to win the match, and earned their first penalty corner in the fifth minute.
  Faizal's powerful low drive hit postman Imran Muhammad's leg, and went between Waqas Muhammed's legs for the first goal.
  That was the signal his mates needed, and a concerted push upfront saw Malaysia win their second penalty corner in the ninth minute, but the first runner doused the attempt.
  Faizal was all over the pitch, and for his untiring effort, he made another mistake in the 11th minute and was yellow carded.
  Pakistan then won a string of penalty corners and in the 15th minute, Muhammad Imran finally perfected it for the equalsier.
  There was no letting up on the remaining minutes of the half, as Malaysia kept attacking, but found the side netting, as well as an off form Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, and failed to produce a lead into the breather.
  Five minutes into the second half, Malaysia were awarded their sixth then seventh penalty corners but still failed to break the deadlock.
  Number eight was the lucky number in the 53rd minute, as Razie Rahim sent the ball crashing into the net for his first goal of the tournament.
   The crowd, sensing that Malaysia were on the winning path, started doing the Mexican Wave as Malaysia attacked rentlessly looking for a bigger lead.
  But Pakistan drew level again in the 63rd minute, when Shafqat Rasool tapped in the easiest goal of the tournament, and Malaysia had to share points with them.
  In another match, New Zealand beat India 2-0 to keep their hopes alive of playing in the final, as they now need to beat Australia in their last match on Saturday.
  India were a jaded side, as the Kiwis punished them in the 40th minute off Andy Hayward's penalty corner. And in the 57th minute, Cory Bennett picked up penalty corner rebound to make sure.
  Australia, on the other hand, displayed poor form and needed a 70th minute equaliser to draw 3-3 with South Korea.
  The Koreans took the lead off Nam Hyun Woo (34th), but Australia were back level in the 41st minute when Joshua Miller scored.
  Nicholas Budgeon scored an own goal in the 43rd minute, and Lee Seung II scored Korea's third in the 55th minute.
  Miller then reduced the deficit in the 58th, and Timothy Deavin scored the equaliser with just eight seconds on the clock.


               P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts

AUSTRALIA      4  2  2  0  14 7  8
MALAYSIA       4  2  2  0  8  6  8
N ZEALAND      4  2  0  2  9  6  6
KOREA          4  1  1  2  7  10 4
PAKISTAN       4  1  1  2  7  14 4
INDIA          4  1  0  3  7  9  3

  RESULTS: Australia 3 Korea 3, New Zealand 2 India 0, Malaysia 2 Pakistan 2.
  March 16:  Korea  v  Pakistan (4pm), Australia  v  New Zealand (6pm), Malaysia  v India (8pm).
  Note: All matches at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh.