Monday, March 11, 2013

Doing it the Ah Boon way...

CHUA Boon Huat has seen the best, and the worst, in Malaysian hockey since making his debut as a 17-year-old in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games where silver was his reward.
  Born on May 3, the 33-year-old veteran of 11-Azlan Shah Cups is flying high in Ipoh with 3 goals, wearing jersey No 3 -- but the numbers did not add up in 2009 when his career was almost derailed.
  Back then, national coach Tai Beng Hai dropped him ahead of the Invercargill World Cup Qualifiers, and many had thought that Ah Boon was history.
  But the Malacca born, who does not speak any Chinese dialect, was given a second life-line when South African Paul Revington came into the picture three years later.
  Revington picked him for last year's Champions Challenge I, where he scored two goals, and his three goals in the Azlan Shah Cup, two against South Korea in the 3-2 win and one against New Zealand which saw Malaysia edge the Kiwis 2-1, has been pivotal.
  "I came back to international hockey for two reasons. The first is because I know that I can still contribute and help the country, and secondly, the new coach (Revington) knows what a player has to offer unlike the previous coach who discarded me (Beng Hai)," said Boon Huat.
  Playing alongside much younger strikers, Ah Boon has shown that his deft touches are a class above.
  "Hockey, or in any team sport, it's got nothing to do with being youthful or veteran if one does not contribute. The younger players might have speed,  but those who have seen action at my level (2002 World Cup, 2000 Olympics, Champions Trophy, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Asia Cup), know what it takes to turn a match around.
  "The mix of youth and senior players is what makes a perfect team," said Ah Boon.
   Today, Malaysia play against mighty Australia, and win lose or draw does not matter, as the target now is  to beat India and then Pakistan as this tournament is all about preparing for the Asia Cup where we need to beat the Asian teams all over again to claim the World Cup spot.


Name: Marcus Chua Boon Huat
Nickname: Ah Boon
Hometown: Malacca
Occupation: Full-time hockey player
Marital Status: Single
Born: May 3, 1980
Jersey Number: 3
Age: 33
Playing Positions: Defender, Forward, Midfielder
Specialist Skills: Slap shot and short corner flick
Caps: 323
First Internationals: 1998 - Bangkok Asian Games (fifth), Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games (Silver)
Most Memorable Hockey Moments: Winning Bronze in 2002 Busan Asian Games

Revington's confident way..

IF only his charges had half the confidence of coach Paul Revington, Malaysia will qualify in the Netherlands World Cup next year.
  The South African is always oozing with confidence, and wants his players to adapt the winning mentality that he tries to indoctrinate in them.
  Malaysia have beaten South Korea (3-2) and New Zealand (2-1) in the Azlan Shah Cup, but today when they come face-to-face with World No 2 Australia, nobody expects them to pull a rabbit out of the hat and receive a standing ovation.
  The fans, who have filled the stadium stands during both the first two matches, know the score and only expect a good account against Australia, ahead of encounters with Pakistan and India.
  Australian coach Ric Charlesworth hit the war gong after his side hammered Pakistan 7-0: "Although it is an impressive scoreline, our performance is still not up to mark and we need to do better.
  "We are up against Malaysia next and they are an experienced side and I expect a close match. They have things going for them as they get to play matches at 8.00pm and the crowd is amazing as well."
  The crowd has simply been amazing in Ipoh, and it is a pity that the patron of the tournament, Sultan Azlan Shah, has been unable to attend because he is under the weather.
  "The match against Australia would be the defining moment of the tournament for us. We all know that Australia are the best in the world but that does not mean they are invincible.
  "I, like always, want my players to enter the pitch with a winning mentality regardless of the ranking of their opponents. That is the only way forward.
  "I will also be looking for improvement on my side against Australia, regardless of how the match turns out to be at the end of the day," said Revington.
  The defense, Malaysia's weak link in the past, has been making as little mistakes as possible, but the worrying factor is the forwards.
  If only they had taken in the sitters that came their way, South Korea and New Zealand would have been beaten by six goals, not edged by one.

India on kamikaze blooding..

INDIA look like they are on a suicide mission in Ipoh, but in reality, blooding 10 under-21 players in the Azlan Shah Cup is going to pay exclusive dividends in the Junior World Cup which they will host in Dec 6-15.
  And the fact, that even with such a young side they have only lost 3-4 to Australia and 1-2 to South Korea, has not been lost to Malaysian juniors coach K. Dharmaraj who is keeping a close eye on coach Michael Nobbs side.
  Nobbs keep saying that he is looking towards a brighter future, but the armchair critics want results now.
  "One must understand that having two good teams in the future is better than one at present. We need to give more youth the chance so that India can have a bigger pool of players.
  "Also, as hosts of the Junior World Cup, we will benefit from these players in December when is matters most," said Nobbs.
  And Nobbs even after two defeats, Nobbs is not yet ready to wave the white flag.
  "The tournament is far from over for India. In fact, we have gone through the worse, and the next three matches are winnable for us," claimed Nobbs.
  India play Pakistan today, followed by New Zealand and finally Malaysia to wrap up their fixtures.
  And the subtle Nobbs warning was not only to their traditional rivals Pakistan, also to to Malaysia.


               P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts

AUSTRALIA      2  2  0  0  10 3  6
MALAYSIA       2  2  0  0  5  3  6
KOREA          2  1  0  1  4  4  3
PAKISTAN       2  1  0  1  4  9  3
N ZEALAND      2  0  0  2  4  6  0
INDIA          2  0  0  2  4  6  0

   March 12: Korea  v  New Zealand (4pm), India  v  Pakistan (6pm), Malaysia  v  Australia (8pm).
   March 14: Australia  v  Korea (4pm), New Zealand  v  India (6pm), Malaysia  v  Pakistan (8pm).
  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.