Monday, March 4, 2013

New Zealand the better side..

NEW Zealand beat Malaysia 3-2 in the first Azlan Shah Cup warm-up match at the Bukit Serindit Stadium in Malacca yesterday.
    The Kiwis are the defending champions, and Malaysia will play another friendly with them today before heading for Ipoh for the tournament proper starting on Saturday.
   The other teams in the Azlan Shah Cup are India, Pakistan, South Korea and Australia.
   Malaysian coach Paul Revington has selected 16 players, with two to be named after the Kiwi friendlies.
    New Zealand took the lead off an Andy Hayward penalty corner in the 21st minute, but there minutes later Faizal Saaro scores a field goal to draw level.
    Howard again score a penalty corner goal in the 33rd minute for a 2-1 lead going into the breather.
   And right after the hooter, Malaysia went on the offensive and this time Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin drew the hosts level in the 37th minute.
    However, Shay Neal scored the winner in the 65th minute.

SSTMI and UniKL formula...

THE Junior Hockey League (JHL) was so predictable that Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) should have been handed both the titles right after the fixtures were drawn up.
   But SSTMI, also known as Thunderbolts, did not have it rosy in the early days when they were known as Bandar Penawar Sports School.
   As BPSS, they did not have the resources to hold onto their players after Form Five, as money was a big factor which drove their best to Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) big spenders.
   “We were just another struggling side as we kept grooming players but could not hold them after they finished schooling. But now, with Tenaga Nasional’s backing, we have produced results in the last four seasons,” said SSTMI coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman.
    Money and a good coaching set-up has seen UniKL Young Guns and Thunderbolts sharing the titles since 2010, with Petaling Jaya City Council (PJCC) sneaking in to finish second in the League this season.
   But Thunderbolts are fast breaking free of the chasing pack with three consecutive League titles, as well as claiming the double champions title back-to-back.
    When asked about his take on this season, Wan Roslan said: “The gap between Division One and Division Two teams is getting bigger and bigger.
   “And even in Division One, the challenge among traditional rivals like Bukit Jalil is fizzling.”
   BJSS hold the distinction of seven consecutive League titles from 2003 to 2009, and and double champions in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009. But are whipping boys today, as they do not have the money to hold onto players.
    Wan Roslan’s sentiments were shared by UniKL Young Guns coach K. Embaraj, a third-time unlucky Milo Cup finalist.
    “There used to be at least four teams who had quality players in the past, but now, we are left with only two sides while the rest are struggling because the talent pool is shrinking fast,” lamented Embaraj, a former international.
     Both UniKL and SSTMI Thunderbolts also play a feeder role to their senior sides, with SSTMI grooming players for Tenaga Nasional.
    “It is a win-win situation, where we groom the players with help from Tenaga, and then supply talent for their MHL side. This year, two of our players will see action with Tenaga in the senior league, and this augurs well for the country as well,” said Wan Rahman.
    Money, and affiliation to a strong sponsor, is what the rest of the JHL teams should start hunting for from today, if not, next year’s season will also see UniKL, who will have 15 players eligible from this season, and SSTMI hogging the headlines again.