Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Endless possibilities with Dharmaraj..

THE coach with a Midas touch.
   K. Dharmaraj's brave-heart attitude has seen his charges win the Sultan of Johor Cup, the Junior Asia Cup and finally the national juniors graduated to finish fourth in the Junior World Cup in New Delhi last December.
   And when he was promoted to the position of senior coach after Paul Revington gave up, he found himself plagued with injury problems and a host of other problems from outside which made his task of selecting a squad for the Azlan Shah Cup almost a nightmare.
   Some quarters had questioned his choice of naming seven uncapped players from the Junior World Cup side for the  Azlan Shah Cup, as they claimed it might just flush the millions spent to organise the tournament down the drain.
   But in reality, Dharmaraj never had a choice, as  regular goalkeepers S. Kumar and Roslan Jamaluddin are injured.
   So he had to name  Junior World Cup goalkeepers Hafizuddin Othman and Faiz Hazrul.
   Also on the injury list are regular defenders Baljit Singh and Razie Rahim, who is also Malaysia's best penalty corner flicker, and with another handful of experienced players showing fatigue and aging legs, Dharmaraj brought in another five uncapped players who helped Malaysia finish fourth in New Delhi.
   The five who deserve a standing ovation are Azri Hassan, Meor Azuan Hasan, Rashid Baharom, Shahril Saabah, Shazril Irwan.
   "I had no choice but to take a gamble and field a big number of youth in my first assignment with the senior side, and the boys showed they have guts, and together with the regulars, they only lost to Australia.
"Now I have a bigger pool to choose from for the Champions Challenge, World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games,"  said Dharmaraj.
   Australia are Malaysia's opening match opponents in the World Cup.
   "Playing them twice in Ipoh was a chance of a lifetime as we prepare for the World Cup, where (No 13) Malaysia must strive to finish in the top-10 bracket to improve our world ranking."
    The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) had set a quarter-final target for the Junior World Cup last year, yet the team made the semis and finished fourth. For the Azlan Shah Cup, the MHC target was bronze but the team won silver.
    And nobody would be surprised if Malaysia finish No 10 in the World Cup as the major difference between Dharmaraj and his predecessors is the word 'attack' as compared to 'defend'.
    In the 2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cup, this scribe had interviewed German coach Bernhard Peters and asked him how did he change the fortunes of his team from finishing fifth in the 2000 Olympics, to world champions two years later   and the answer was 'attack'.
    Peters had then said: "I have the same players who played in the Sydney Olympics. The previous coach told them to defend and they finished fifth, and when I told them to play attacking hockey, they won the World Cup."
     This is what Dharmaraj is striving to do.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Eighth Azlan Shah Cup, with Eight goals..

MALAYSIA gave away a total of 11 penalty corners and went down 8-3 to World No 1 Australia in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
    Five of the Aussie goals were off penalty corners, with Chris Ciriello scoring four, to claim their eight gold medal.
    Coach K. Dharmaraj's men, however deserve credit, as from the six goals that Australia let in, in the entire tournament, Malaysia had their name on five. The other one belonged to South Korea.
     It was a mismatch from the start as World No 1 Australia went for an early kill, and it was only 11 minutes into the match when they took a 2-0 lead.
   The first penalty corner saw Chris Ciriello, No 5, scoring off a low push to the board in the fifth minute, and like synchronised clockwork to their jersey numbers, No 11 Eddie Ockenden scored a field goal in the 11th minute.
   And by the 17th minute, Australia had almost sealed the match when Ciriello scored his brace off a penalty corner, for his fifth goal of the tournament.
   Malaysia could only defend for the next five minutes, as even the task of taking the ball out of their own semi-circle started to look like an impossible task.
   However, they got a break in the 23rd minute, when Firhan Ashaari was brought down, and the first penalty corner was awarded. Faizal Saari took the flick, and when it bounced off goalkeeper Andrew Charter, Shahril Saabah hammered home the rebound like a cricket shot which narrowed the gap.
   Australia went in a rampage again, but goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman was better prepared this time, and at the break, Australia only had a two-goal lead.
   Malaysia started agressively looking to narrow the gap, and found their second penalty corner in the 37th minute, but Faizal Saari's approach was easily stopped, but still, the second goal did come their way.
   This time, Izzat Hakimi took a free hit from outside the semi-circle, and Rashid Baharom connected home in the 40th minte and the crowd went wild with celebrations.
    But two minutes later, Ciriello broke their hearts for the third time, as he nailed a hat-trick of penalty corner goals.
    Again, Australia took the lead at 4-2, but there was still 26 minutes to play, with Malaysia being very generous in giving away penalty corners.
   It was penalty corner No 9, when another low flick saw Nicholas Budgeon's ball trickle and gently slam onto the board to make it 5-2.
   And penalty corner No 10 saw Ciriello score his fourth goal in the 52nd minute, and Matt Ghodes scores No 7 in the 65th minute.
   Fitri Saari made the score respectable with a field goal in the 67th minute, but Tristen White made it 8-3 in the 68th minute.
   RESULTS -- Final: Australia 8 Malaysia 3; Third-Fourth: South Korea 3 China 2; Fifth-Sixth: Canada 2 South Africa 0.

Player-of-the-tournament: Mark Knowles (Aust, Captain)
Fairplay: South Korea.
Man-of-the-Match: Chris Ciriello (Australia).
Best Goalkeeper: Lee Myung Ho (S Korea).
Top Goalscorer: Nicholas Budgeon (Aust, 8 goals).

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Malaysia v Australia final...

MALAYSIA qualified for the final of the Azlan Shah Cup and will meet mighty Australia again in Ipoh today.
   Even though Malaysia were whipped 6-2 by Australia in the last pool match yesterday, South Korea needed four clear goals against South Africa to pip Malaysia to the final, but the Koreans could only win 5-2.
   This will be the second consecutive final against Australia, and Malaysia only lost 3-2 last year.
   Malaysia did well to hold Australia to only 1-0 going into the break, but a super effort form the World No 1 saw them score another five goals, before coach K. Dharmaraj's men woke up and narrowed the gap.
   The stadium was full to the brim, and supporters stood shoulder-to-shoulder supporting their men, and Faizal Saari was the toast of the match as his penalty corner brace in the 61st and 70th minute was unprecendented in the tournament.
   Australia had whipped every team in Ipoh by averaging six goals per match, and only Malaysia scored two against them. The only other goal the Aussies let in was when they beat South Korea 5-1.
    "Entering into the match, I knew there was a big possibility of being whipped by the Australians and I had two choices. One was to play cowardly by defending and moving up only on counter, or play our normal attacking style.
   "I chose to let the players loose, and not play cowardly, as we are in this tournament to learn, and there is no use in holding the reigns," said Dharmaraj.
   Malaysia will meet the Australians first in the World Cup in the Netherlands: "After today, believe my players would be much more prepared when we play Australia in the final. This second sparring session (in the final) would also be very valuable against our opening World Cup opponents," said Dharmaraj.
   After being 1-5 down, the coach took out goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman and replaced him with Hazrul Sobri, who earned his first international cap against the mighty Aussies.
   "Hafizuddin played well, but I replaced him with Hazrul to give him also a chance to play against Australia and earn his first cap. And I believe he did very well, as the only goal he let in was an unstoppable world class flick to the net," said Dharmaraj.
   The Australian goals were scored by Nicholas Budgeon (17th), Chris Ciriello (38th, 59th), Russell Ford (42nd), Daniel Beale (43rd), Jeremy Hayward (46th).

RESULTS: Australia 6 Malaysia 2, South Africa 2 South  Korea 5.


                       P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA    5   5  0   0  31  3     15
MALAYSIA      5  3  1   1  17   14    10
S KOREA         5   3  1   1  14  11     10
CHINA             5   1  0   4  13  21    3
CANADA         5   1  0   4  7   18     3
S AFRICA        5   1  0   4  7  22     3

FIXTURES: Today -- Final: Australia v Malaysia (8.35pm); Third-Fourth: South Korea v China (6pm); Fifth-Sixth: Canada v South Africa (3.30pm).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Keep Calm Malaysia...

NOBODY expects Malaysia to beat World No 1 Australia in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh today, but the fans can rest assured that coach K. Dharmaraj's men would strive to keep the score low.
   For this might just see them play Australia again in the final on Sunday.
   The Aussies have already qualified for the final and will be going for their eighth Azlan Shah Cup title, with the second spot being a toss between South Korea and Malaysia.
   Malaysia have a seven-goal cushion, while the Koreans are on level terms as they have scored nine and let in nine.
   Mathematically speaking, Malaysia need to keep the score against Australia low, and hope South Korea do not hammer the daylights out of South Africa in their chase for goals -- as they play after the Malaysian game and would know just how many goals to score.
   "The Australians are in a different league altogether as they are also the raging favourites for the World Cup. But we need to make sure we do not let in too many goals so that we have another chance to play them in the final," said Dharmaraj.
   This is the best chance for Malaysia to spar with Australia, as their next meeting would be in the opening match of the World Cup in The Netherlands on May 31-June 15. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has paired the World No 1 against the lowest ranked team in the World Cup, Malaysia at 13th, for the curtain raiser.
   "Playing Malaysia in Malaysia is a dream situation, as this would be our last chance to meet our first World Cup opponents. And with Malaysia having fast forwards who have very good individual skills, it would be a very interesting match for sure," said Australian skipper Mark Knowles who last played in the Azlan Shah Cup in 2006.
   Australia has a massive advantage over Malaysia, and their pedigree in the tournament saw them lift the title seven times in 1983, 1998, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2013.  And as hosts for 23 Editions, Malaysia's record stops at four silvers won in 1985, 2007,2009 and 2013.
    "Yes, the match would certainly be a very interesting one as not only are Malaysia a very fast side, but also have a very supportive fan base and when they fill up the stadium, the noise is deafening and the atmosphere is electrifying. We don't get mush of this in Australia, so the experience would be good heading into the World Cup," said Australian coach Ric Charlesworth.
    The Ipoh fans have filled the Azlan Shah Stadium to the brim during all the Malaysian fixtures, and today would also see a mammoth turnout. And the fans would not be disappointed if their team lose to Australia, as all they would be looking for today is a brave fight.
   Keeping in mind that Dharmaraj took the risk of blooding seven rookies for this edition, the boys showed their mettle by beating China, Canada and South Africa and their draw was against Asian giants South Korea.
    But with Australia hammering South Korea 5-1, and all their other scores were in the region of sixers and sevens, and only letting in one goal, tonight's match can turn into a mismatch, or the crowning glory in Malaysia's record against Australia.


                       P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA    4   4  0   0  25  1     12
MALAYSIA      4  3  1   0  15   8    10
S KOREA         4   2  1   1  9  9      7
CHINA             5   1  0   4  13  21    3
CANADA         5   1  0   4  7   18     3
S AFRICA        4   1  0   3  5  17     3

    March 21: REST DAY.
    March 22: Australia v Malaysia (6pm), South Africa v South  Korea (8pm).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Aussies hand Malaysia seven-goal advantage..

WORLD NO 1 Australia started off slowly, but went on to beat South Korea 5-1 to cement their spot in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
   And now, Malaysia need to keep the score low when they play Australia on Saturday, and hope South Korea does not hammer South Africa in their last match to move into the final on goal difference.
   The Koreans scored nine and let in nine, while Malaysia have a seven goal cushion going into the Australian match and they must no blow it.
   Australia were given the run around by Asian champions South Korea, who defended stoutly until a silly mistake made all the difference in the 10th minute.
   Off a goalmouth melee, Trent Mitton slotted in the ball for the lead.
   However, the Koreans refused to be intimidated by that goal and kept defending while only moving forward a handful of times in the first half. And if paid off when they won their first penalty corner in the 32nd minute and Jang Jong Hyun nailed the equaliser with a low push which sounded the board.
   But the Australians came back strongly into the match again, and just as the clock showed seconds left to the half-time, Nicholas Budgeon scored and made it 2-1.
    In the second half, goals by Jeremy Hayward (59th), Matt Gohdes (63rd, 69th) made it  a comfortable 5-1 win for the Aussies.
     Meanwhile, Malaysia had a well deserved two-day rest period after whipping China 7-3 on Wednesday and will only meet tournament raging favourites Australia on Saturday.
    Seasoned striker Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, who is playing in his eigtht Azlan Shah Cup likes the improvement shown by the seven juniors drafted for the tournament, and feels they can only become better is given more exposure.
   "Seven players without caps were included by the coach, and they showed some good promise in all the matches, and I believe that with more exposure, Malaysia will have a very strong team as these players mature further," said the 28-year-old who scored his first tournament goal against China.
   Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin made his mark in the 2005 Junior World Cup in Rotterdam, and has since been a permanent fixture in the Malaysian strike-force.
    With beating Australia almost an impossible dream, the task as hand for Malaysia would be to stop the Aussies from scoring too many goals and have a rematch with the World No 1 in the final on Sunday.

RESULTS: Canada 4 China 3, South Korea 1 Australia 5.


                       P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA    4   4  0   0  25  1     12
MALAYSIA      4  3  1   0  15   8    10
S KOREA         4   2  1   1  9  9      7
CHINA             5   1  0   4  13  21    3
CANADA         5   1  0   4  7   18     3
S AFRICA        4   1  0   3  5  17     3

    March 21: REST DAY.
    March 22: Australia v Malaysia (6pm), South Africa v South  Korea (8pm).

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Malaysia whip China 7-3

MALAYSIA whipped the daylights out of China when seven different players scored in the 7-3 win against China in the 23rd Edition of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
   The goal-cushion could come into the picture as Malaysia, who confirmed a berth in the third-fourth placing match, make a dash for the final with only the Australian match remains on Saturday where they need to keep the score low.
    China were the early agressors, but cheered on by a capacity crowd, Malaysia took an early lead after they started with a strike, instead of a defensive side.
   And in the sixth minute itself, Marhan Jalil's cracking shot from the top of the semi-circle went crashing into the top of the net for the much needed lead.
   The opening goal was just the tonic needed for another push, and the first penalty corner was won in the eighth minute. Ahmad Kazamirul's dummy went to Shahril Saabah, whose flick was saved by the goalkeeper but in came Azlan Misron who  slapped in the rebound for the second goal in the ninth minute.
   Missing from the match was striker Faizal Saari, who was suspended for one match yesterday morning after the Tournament Director Gavin Hawke from New Zealand found his conduct during the Canada match unbecoming.
   On Monday, Faizal was yellow carded in the 24th minute for hitting Canadian Jagdish Gill, and instead of sitting it out, he hit the sin-bin plastic chair with his hockey stick and broke it.
   The four-goal striker was then benched for the match against China, and coach K. Dharmaraj had to push skipper and defender Azlan into the forwardline.
    And the coaches' reshuffle paid dividents as Malaysia went on a first half rampage and in the 23rd minute, off their third penalty corner, Kazamirul's push found Izzat Hakimi who tucked in to make it 3-0.
   Three minutes later, it was the turn of experienced striker Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin to slam in the ball from a difficult angle for his first of the tournament, as Malaysia cruise at 4-0.
    The fifth goal was another masterpiece, as Shahril Saabah got his name on the scoreboard with a tap-in in the 30th minute.
    China pulls one back when E Liguang scores in the 44th, but a minute later Malaysian were awarded a penalty stroke and Fitri Saari scores from the spot to make it 6-1.
      The second China goal was scored off a penalty stroke by Du Talake in the 60th minute, but Firhan Ashaari makes it 7-2 in the 62nd minute.
   In the end, the final score was 7-3, as Du Talake gets his brace in the 66th.
   "I did expect my players to pull off a win, but the score was not expected as the players took themselves to the limit," said Dharmaraj.
    As for Azlan who from a defender was promoted to striker: "That is the new trend which I will propogate, as I look  to make players versatile, and able to play in any position when required."
    RESULTS: Canada 2 South Africa 3, Malaysia 7 China  3.


                       P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
MALAYSIA      4  3  1   0  15   8    10
AUSTRALIA    3   3  0   0  20  0     9
S KOREA         3   2  1   0  8  4      7
CHINA             4   1  0   3  10  17    3
S AFRICA        4   1  0   3  5  17     3
CANADA         4   0  0   4  3   15     0

    March 20: Canada v China (6pm), South Korea v Australia  (8pm).
    March 21: REST DAY.
    March 22: Australia v Malaysia (6pm), South Africa v South  Korea (8pm).

Australia undressed

Australia undressed

Monday, March 17, 2014

Faizal steers Malaysia to win..

MALAYSIA survived an early scare, yet again, to beat Canada 3-1 and keep their hopes of playing in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup alive and kicking.
   There were plenty of desperate moments, when the Malaysian players started to collect cards in their attempts to stop the Canadians, but a refreshed second half approach won them the crucial three points.
    Malaysia started on a super note as they attacked relentlessly for the first five minutes, and were rewarded when the partnership of Marhan Jalil and Faizal Saari clicked in the fourth minute itself.
   A darting solo run from Marhan, was followed by a deft pass to Faizal which only needed a deflection past goalkeeper David Carter for the lead.
   There was another chance to seal the match early, when Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin won the first penalty corner in the seventh minute, but Faizal flicked it over the bar.
   Canada came out of their shell, and won their first penalty corner in the 15th minute, and Adam Froese perfected it past goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman for the equaliser.
   Cheered on by a full gallery at the Azlan Shah Stadium, Malaysia were supposed to play much better but started collecting cards instead, and giving the Canadians the advantage. First Izzat Hakimi was shown the green for rough paly in the 22nd minute, then Faizal Saari was yellow carded in the 24th minute for hitting Jagdish Gill.
    And then in the 32nd minute, Azri Hassan was yellow carded, but still, Malaysia held on to the 1-1 score going into the dressing room.
    The team again walked out of the dressing room looking confident, like they did when they were down 0-2 to South Korea and eventually drew the match at 2-2.
   And in the 46th minute, Malaysian won their fourth penalty corner and a dummy from Shahril Saabah saw Faizal netting his brace to give Malaysia the lead again.
   Faizal and his mates had many more chances to increase the lead, but the Canadian goalkeeper David played a solid second half to deny them.
   And the one-goal lead was too slim going into the last five minutes of the match, but Ahmad Kazamirul made sure the win belonged to Malaysia when he scored a field goal in the 67th minute. Man-of-the-match was aptly awarded to Faizal Saari.
    Meanwhile World No 1 Australia demolished South Africa 7-0 to move closer to playing in the final. The Australians have nine points after three matches as they had whitewashed China 7-0 and Canada 6-0 in earlier matches.
   RESULTS: South Africa 0 Australia 7, China 2 South  Korea 3, Malaysia 3 Canada 1.

                       P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA    3   3  0   0  20  0   9
S KOREA         3   2  1   0  8  4   7
MALAYSIA      3  2  1   0  8   5     7
CHINA             3   1  0   2  7  10    3
CANADA         3   0  0   3  1   12   0
S AFRICA        3   0  0   3  2  15  0

     March 18: REST DAY.
     March 19: Canada v South Africa (6pm), Malaysia v China  (8pm).
    March 20: Canada v China (6pm), South Korea v Australia  (8pm).
    March 21: REST DAY.
    March 22: Australia v Malaysia (6pm), South Africa v South  Korea (8pm).

Australia score 20 goals in three matches...

The Kookaburras maintained their 100% record in game three of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh on Monday with a resounding 7-0 over Commonwealth Games opponents South Africa.
Despite being held deadlocked at 0-0 for the first half hour of the match, the Kookaburras took advantage of three opportunities in quick succession to go in 3-0 ahead at the break. Trent Mitton opened the scoring just a day after his 50th appearance for Australia before Jamie Dwyer fired a powerful tomahawk into the far corner for 2-0. Nick Budgeon continued his impressive record of at least a goal in every match with a 35th minute penalty corner taking his tally to five for the tournament.
Dwyer’s commitment at the near post allowed him to steal in to sweep home for 4-0 after excellent work from fellow Athens 2004 veteran Rob Hammond down the right before Chris Ciriello announced his return with a low penalty corner flick.
Daniel Beale added his name to the score sheet in the 58th minute with a composed upright tomahawk to make it 6-0 and just four minutes later captain Mark Knowles got in on the act with a thumping drive for 7-0.
The Kookaburras’ next match is against Korea on Thursday. It begins at 11pm AEDT / 8pm AWST.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Young Malaysia hold mighty Korea 2-2

MALAYSIA came back from two goals down to hold Asian champions South Korea to a 2-2 draw in a highly dramatic Azlan Shah Cup matc in Ipoh yesterday.
   With seven players earning their first caps in this tournament, nobody would have expected Malaysia to hold an experienced Korean side but they did it with sheer determination, and great help from goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman, who only earned his second cap yesterday, but was named as man-of-the match for his saves which kept Malaysia in the match until the second half fight-back.
    Malaysia started on an unfortunate note as skipper and most experienced player on the field Azlan Misron went out for a nose bleed treatment, and the Koreans nailed the lead while he was out.
  Defender Azlan, with 325 caps, took a nasty hit on the nose, and in his absense, the young Malaysian back-line collapsed and in the 10th minute, Oh Dae Keun perfected a one-two and scored.
  Malaysia tried their best for the equaliser, but bungled at the final touch on numerous occassions, with experienced striker Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin missing the best chance in the 24th minute when he too a wild shot even though there was no pressure on him.
   On the other side, Azlan Shah Cup debutant goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman, 22, brought out a handful of super saves to keep Malaysia in the match as the clock ticked towards the half-time.
    However, with five more minutes to the half-time, Oh Dae Keun nailed his brace when he connected home a cross and Malaysia went into the dressing with a mammoth task to salvage the game, as they only had one shot at goal and no penalty corner to show after 35 minutes.
    The national players put up a brace front after the breather, but 50 minutes into the match, they still failed to find the break as Korean defenders made no mistakes in their own semi-cirle to award Malaysia a penalty corner or a clear shot at goal.
   However, the fire was ignited in the 56th minute when Firtri Saari finally went solo and won Malaysia's first penalty corner. The corner was almost botched by poor stopping, but Shahril Saabah took it on his own accord to salvage it by scoring a reverse stick goal.
    With 11 minutes remaining on the clock, the possibilities opened up for the young Malaysian side.
    And they attacked like men on a mission, and finally got their act together to win the second penalty corner in the 65th and Faizal Saari nailed the equaliser with a high flick, and shared the spoils with mighty Korea.
   Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj was pleased with his youth power: "When we went into the dressing room 0-2 down, I told them we have nothing to lose and to start playing an attacking game as we have young legs to run down the Koreans and it worked.
   "Against Canada, we will also be looking for a win as now we have a better chance of playing in the final now after holding Korea to a draw," said Dharmaraj.
    Malaysia meet Canada today, and coach Anthony Farry said he was warry of the speedy Malaysians: "I was not around for the series (friendlies where Malaysian won 6-1, 5-1 and lost 5-4 to Canada in Malacca before the Azlan Shah Cup) but from what I have watched on video, they have great trapping skills and are very fast so I expect another tough match."
     In another match, defending champions Australia cruised to a 6-0 victory over Canada to further consolidate their chances of lifting their eighth Azlan Shah Cup title since its inception in 1983.
   The Aussie goals were scored by Glenn Simpson (10th), Jeremy Hayward (26th), Nicholas Budgeon (34th), Russlee Ford (46th), Jacob Whetton (53rd, 63rd).

   RESULTS: Australia 6 Canada 0, Malaysia x South Korea 2.

                       P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA    2   2  0   0  13  0   6
S KOREA         2   1  1   0  5  2   4
MALAYSIA      2  1  1   0  5  4   4
CHINA             2   1  0   1  5  7   3
S AFRICA        2   0  0   2  2  8   0
CANADA         2   0  0   2  0  9   0

     TODAY: South Africa v Australia (4pm), China v South  Korea (6pm), Malaysia v Canada (8pm).
     March 18: REST DAY.
     March 19: Canada v South Africa (6pm), Malaysia v China  (8pm).
    March 20: Canada v China (6pm), South Korea v Australia  (8pm).
    March 21: REST DAY.
    March 22: Australia v Malaysia (6pm), South Africa v South  Korea (8pm).

Aussies hit a sixer past Canada..

AZLAN SHAH CUP DEFENDING CHAMPIONS Australia cruised to a 6-0 victory over Canada to further consolidate their chances of lifting their eighth Azlan Shah Cup title since its inception in 1983.
   The Aussie goals were scored by Glenn Simpson (10th), Jeremy Hayward (26th), Nicholas Budgeon (34th), Russlee Ford (46th), Jacob Whetton (53rd, 63rd).

    NOTE: Australians wore black arm-band against Canada as respect for skipper Mark Knowles, whose aunty passed away due to cancer.
    KNOWLES: It was a very nice gesture from my team-mates, for a hockey loving family of mine..

Only 60 minutes for Asian Games...

THE was mixed news from the International Hockey Federation (FIH) headquarters in Lausane, Switzerland as a German-born players was allowed to represent Malaysia, while in the same breath, the governing body made massive changes to the sport for the Asian Games.
   Kevin Lim, who holds a Malaysian mykad, last played for UniKL in the Malaysia Hockey League in 2011 and then turned up in Perth when Malaysian went for a playing Tour there recently and impressed coach K. Dharmaraj.
   As for the Asian Games, the FIH aanouced that there will be a new format where teams will play four quarters of 15 minutes each, with a break of two minutes for the first and third quarters, as well as commercial breaks. This will cut regular playing time from 70 minutes, to 60 minutes only.
    And while coach K. Dharmaraj was happy with news of Kevin, he was still grappling with the change in format for the Asian Games.
   "I was impressed with Kevin when he came for an unofficial trial with the Malaysian side during our Tour of Perth recently, and he should be able to make the team for the Champions Challenge in Kuantan (April 26-May 4) now that the FIH have approved and cleared our application to field him," said Dharmaraj.
   Kevin, 27, was not impressive when he played for UniKL in 2011, but according to Dharmaraj, he is now a much better player.
   "I was also not impressed with his performance with UniKL back then, but now, Kevin has become a much better player and I believe he would be an asset to Malaysia in the Champions Challenge," said Dharmaraj.
   As for the new format, Dharmaraj said: "With playing tme cut by 10 minutes, there will be very little room to make mistakes as making a comeback from a goal down would be much more harder now. And I don't understand why the change was only made for the Asian Games, which is a qualifier for the Olympics,  and not for the Champions Challenge, World Cup and the Commonwealth Games which would also be held this year."
   Malaysia will be battling for the sole Asian Games ticket to the Olympics against South Korea, Pakistan, India, China and Japan.

Hafiz: Promising goalkeeper..

HAFIZUDDIN Othman, 22, earned his first cap when Malaysia beat South Africa 2-1, and the young goalkeeper earned praise from many for his brave performance in his Azlan Shah Cup debut in Ipoh on Thursday.
   And goalkeeper's coach M. Nadarajan, who has been training him since his junior days, was also full of praise for this prodige.
    "Hafiz did exceptionally well in the Junior World Cup (where Malaysia finished fourth) and his debut with the senior side was also laudable as he did not freeze and played bravely when under pressure from the South African strikers. I believe he has a very bright future," said Nadarajan.
   Hafizuddin was shoved into the limelight when No 1 goalkeeper S. Kumar picked up an injury while playing in the Hockey India League, while No 2 Roslan Jamaluddin is also on the croak list.
    "I believe Hafiz can be a good replacement for Kumar and Roslan when both of them decided to retire from the sport, it might take more than five years as both the senior goalkeepers are also in top flight now, but Hafiz will be a good back-up in the making," said Nadarajan.
    The other goalkeeper in Ipoh for the Azlan Shah Cup is Hazrul Faiz Sobri, but he has yet to earn a cap.
    "Hafiz's positioning as well as his ability to judge the ball was good against South Africa, and the first goal he let in went past the postman, while the second should have been stopped by him, but that sometimes happens in a game," said Nadarajan.
    Both the South African penalty corner goals were off low pushes which sounded the board, and more experienced postmen like Razie Rahim and first runner Baljit Singh might have been able to judge the ball better. But both of them are on the injured list, and young players took over their jobs.
    Today is a rest day, and Malaysia play their most crucil match tomorrow against Asian Games champions South Korea.
    Skipper Azlan Misron knows he will have his hands full, but will be gunning for a victory: "Well you can say that we need to beat South Korea at all cost because it will open our passage into the final a bit wider. But having said that, it will not be an easy match, as the Koreans have brought a very experienced side," said Azlan.
    The least number of caps on the Korean team list is 59, while 11 of them have caps ranging from 100 over to over 200.
    But if Hafizuddin and his six other mates, who are making their Azlan Shah Cup debut, play to their capabilities, the Koreans can be stunned.
   The only worry is the ability to score off penalty corners, as from the 12 that Malaysian won against South Africa, 11 were wasted.
   South Korean coach Shin Seok Kyo is wary of the Malaysian youth brigade: "I notice may new faces in the Malaysian team, but still, they are very fast and have wonderful individual skills. But ince our target is to play in the final, it is very important for us to win this match on Sunday."


                       P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA    1   1  0   0  7  0   3
S KOREA         1   1  0   0  3  0   3
MALAYSIA      1  1  0   0  3  2   3
CHINA             2   1  0   1  5  7   3
S AFRICA        2   0  0   2  2  8   0
CANADA         1   0  0   1  0  3   0


    March 16: Australia v Canada (6pm), South Korea v  Malaysia (8pm).
     March 17: South Africa v Australia (4pm), China v South  Korea (6pm), Malaysia v Canada (8pm).
     March 18: REST DAY.
     March 19: Canada v South Africa (6pm), Malaysia v China  (8pm).
    March 20: Canada v China (6pm), South Korea v Australia  (8pm).
    March 21: REST DAY.
    March 22: Australia v Malaysia (6pm), South Africa v South  Korea (8pm).

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Favourites Australia still rusty...

AUSTRALIAN coach Ric Charlesworth feels his side is still rusty and need more time to click, and he said this right after they demolished China 7-0 in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh on Thursday.
  Australia are the best bet to lift the 23rd Azlan Shah Cup crown, which will take their tally to eighth titles, and Charlesworth knows that his side are almost invincible in Ipoh.
    "I am happy with the win, but not with the way we played today, but that is to be expected as we just assembled as a team recently after our players returned from the HIL (Hockey India League).
    "We are still rusty, and hopefully after a few more matches, the players will start clicking better," said Charlesworth.
   World No 1 Australia are not only good for the Azlan Shah Cup, but also contenders for the World Cup in Netherlands, and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
    "It is really sad that India and Pakistan could not make it for this edition, but Australia have always supported this tournament and we really enjoy playing here. This edition also has World Cup sides in Malaysia, South Korea and South Africa and we expect our toughest matches to come from this three teams," said Charlesworth.
   Again Charlesworth was being diplomatic, as in a recent tour of Perth coach K. Dharmaraj's men were pommeled by a mixed Australian side. Malaysia had lost 5-1, 7-1, 9-0 and 4-2 to the mixed Australian national squad; and drew 3-3 with Australian Institute of Sports. 
    Malaysia have a two-day rest after beating South Africa 2-1, and they play Australia in the last day of the group stages, which could turn out to be a blessing as it will be a mammoth task to stop the Australians from scoring.
    Malaysian skipper Azlan Misron was relieved his young side edged South Africa, and he is always ready to help the seven young boys who earned their first caps on Thursday.
   "I will use all my experience (324 caps) to help this young players improve their game, it is my duty, as we need to play much better in the next match against  South Korea (Sunday) as I expect this to be our toughest match where we need to collect three points if we want to play in the final again. We need to make sure we have enough points to enter the final before we play our last match against Australia," said the experienced skipper.
   South Korea are the Asian Games champions, and also finished fourth in the World League Semi-finals in Johor Baru to qualify for the World Cup. Malaysia did not meet Korea in Johor Baru, as they were in Group A while the national team were in Group B.
    Malaysia were edged 3-2 by Australia in the final of the last edition, with the winner coming four seconds from the hooter.

Friday, March 14, 2014

China whip South Africa 5-0


                       P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA    1   1  0   0  7  0   3
S KOREA         1   1  0   0  3  0   3
MALAYSIA      1  1  0   0  3  2   3
CHINA             2   1  0   1  5  7   3
CANADA         1   0  0   1  0  3   0

S AFRICA        2   0  0   2  2  8   0

 RESULTS: South Korea 3 Canada 0, China 5 South Africa 0.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Malaysia 3 South Africa 2

THE National hockey team, with seven players earning their first cap Thursday, beat South Africa 3-2 in the 23rd Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
    There were plenty of misses, with 11 penalty corners wasted, but the scoreline was pleasing as Malaysia took their chances with a host of youth for the future.
    Malaysia started on a shaky note, as they kept on missing sitters for the first five minutes, but finally nailed the lead off Shahril Saabah in the 10th minute off a field attempt.
   The Junior World Cup player made his senior debut yesterday and scored a lovely goal, however it was too early to douse the South African fire as they came back fighting.
   South Africa won their first penalty corner in the 16th minute, and Jethro Eustice made it count with a low flick which went crashing into the board for the equaliser.
   A huge turnout of schoolchildren, with drums and horns, kept cheering the Malaysian side and this is what the Malaysian side need to lift their game to a higher tempo if they want to collect full points. For the record, the two teams last met at the World League semi-finals in Johor Baru and Malaysia won 6-2.
   However, with an almost new outfit in Ipoh, Malaysia entered the dressing room sharing the spoils with South Africa.
   The second Malaysian goal was in the making as coach K. Dharmaraj's men started with more confidence after the breather, and a good run and then cross by by Firhan Ashaari in the 42nd minute was cooly connected home by Rashid Baharom for the lead again.
   Rashid was also making his debut, and collected his first cap with style as he assisted in the first goal, and scored the second.
   Malaysia then won a slew of penalty  corners, bringing their tally to ten, but still failed to make the break wider.
   But the South Africa were sharper as they made another comeback by scoring off their fifth penalty corner, which was another low push in the 57th minute, again by Eustice .
  However, Faizal Saari made sure Malaysia collected full points by salvaging an almost botched penalty corner, their 12th, in the 63rd minute.
   "We had many new players who earned their first caps today, but they played really well and even though we missed many chances, the win will strengthen this side in the coming matches," said Dharmaraj.
   Azlan Misron, the skipper 324 caps, said he did not feel uneasy playing with so many rookies: "They played really well even though it was their first cap, and as an experience player myself, I will help them however I can to make them into better players in the next matches."
   Meanwhile, in the curtain raiser, Australia whacked China 7-0 to assert their intention of lifting their eighth Azlan Shah Cup crown.
   It took the defending champions only three minutes to score when Nicholas Budgeon sent in a low penalty corner drive. Budgeon went on to claim his hat-trick by scoring another two in the 56th and 65th minutes off penalty corner attempts.
   The rookie of 15 caps, Budgeon showed a rare touch with penalty corners which was always a problem with the Australian side in previous years and he was aptly named as the man-of-the-match.
   The other five goals were scored by Trent Mitton (20th), Jamie Dwyer (34th), Jacob Whetton (37th) and Russell Ford (47th).
   Meanwhile, the haze in Kuala Lumpur reached dangerous levels and the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) decided to postpone the start of the Malaysia Hockey League Division One matches which were supposed to start today. Only the match played in Terengganu, will be held as scheduled.
   RESULTS: Australia 7 China 0; Malaysia 3 South Africa 2.


                       P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA    1   1  0   0  7  0   3
MALAYSIA      1  1  0   0  3  2   3
S AFRICA        1   0  0   1  2  3   0
CHINA             1   0  0   1  0  7   0
S KOREA         0   0  0   0  0  0   0
CANADA         0   0  0   0  0  0   0


  FRIDAY: South Korea v Canada (6pm), China v South Africa (6pm).
   March 15: REST DAY.
    March 16: Australia v Canada (6pm), South Korea v  Malaysia (8pm).
     March 17: South Africa v Australia (4pm), China v South  Korea (6pm), Malaysia v Canada (8pm).
     March 18: REST DAY.
     March 19: Canada v South Africa (6pm), Malaysia v China  (8pm).
    March 20: Canada v China (6pm), South Korea v Australia  (8pm).
    March 21: REST DAY.
    March 22: Australia v Malaysia (6pm), South Africa v South  Korea (8pm).

Australia 7 China 0

In the curtain raiser of the 23rd Azlan Shah Cup, Australia whacked China 7-0 to assert their intention of lifting their eighth Azlan Shah Cup crown.
   It took the defending champions only three minutes to score when Nicholas Budgeon sent in a low penalty corner drive. Budgeon went on to claim his hat-trick by scoring another two in the 56th and 65th minutes off penalty corner attempts.
   The rookie of 15 caps, Budgeon showed a rare touch with penalty corners which was always a problem with the Australian side in previous years and he was aptly named as the man-of-the-match.
   The other five goals were scored by Trent Mitton (20th), Jamie Dwyer (34th), Jacob Whetton (37th) and Russell Ford (47th).

New look Malaysia

AZLAN SHAH CUP: Dharmaraj turns to juniors for help

THERE will be a massive change in the Malaysian backline when the hosts open their Azlan Shah Cup campaign against South Africa in Ipoh Friday.
   Missing will be goalkeeper S. Kumar and defenders Razie Rahim and Baljit Singh, all stalwarts with the national team.
   The three are on the injured list, and coach K. Dharmaraj had to dig deep into the junior ranks to find six other replacements.
   Malaysia are last year's silver medallists, while champions Australia will be gunning for their eighth Azlan Shah Cup in the 23rd edition.
   The other challengers for the title this year  are South Korea, Canada and China.
    Malaysia will rely on Faizal Saari and national junior  Shahril Saabah to replace No 1 flicker Razie.
   The other juniors who helped Malaysia finished fourth in the New Delhi World Cup and drafted into the Azlan Shah Cup squad are defenders Faiz Helmi Jali and Izad Hakimi, midfield duo Fitri Saari and Meor Azuan Hassan, and forward Firhan Ashaari.
   However, all the juniors have played for the senior side in other tournaments and are not wet behind their ears.
   Raging favourites Australia are serious about winning their eighth crown.
  "The Azlan Shah Cup is our last tournament before the World Cup and the squad have been picked with that in mind," Australian coach Ric Charlesworth said on http://www.hockey.org.au.
   "We've selected based on a range of objectives, including load management. We've got athletes who have played in the Oceania Cup, World League Finals and Hockey India League and we need to look after them with both the World Cup and Commonwealth Games coming up.
    "Some, like Jamie Dwyer, were rested for the World League Finals but now need to come back and play with the group."
FRIDAY: Australia v China (6pm), South Africa v Malaysia (8pm).

Monday, March 10, 2014

No 1 goalkeeper Kumar to sit out Azlan Shah Cup..

COACH Dharmaraj’s Azlan Shah Cup preparations hit  another big snag as No 1 goalkeeper S. Kumar  picked up an  injury before the Hockey India League (HIL) semi-finals.
    And he will be out for at least two weeks to undergo  rehabilitation, and will miss the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh from  March 13-23.
   “I am currently undergoing rehabilitation at the National   Institute of Sports and will need at least two weeks of rehab   and rest before I can pad up again,” said Kumar.
    Malaysia’s No 1 penalty corner flicker Razie Rahim also   dislocated his shoulder during the HIL and not only will he be   out for the Azlan Shah Cup, but he might not even be ready for  the World Cup in  Netherlands on May 31 to June 15.
    Dharmaraj will name his squad, to defend last year’s silver   medal, today (Tuesday), after training matches against Aus  tralia and China.
    Malaysia will be up against defending champions Aus tralia, who will be gunning for their eighth Azlan Shah Cup  title; South Africa, South Korea, China and Canada.
    Malaysia played a three-match series against Canada in  Malacca last week and won 6-2, lost 5-4 and won the third  match 5-1.
    Meanwhile, Azzami Abadi was shell-shocked when he was  dropped  from the national training squad by Dharmaraj, and   believes he gave his best and does not deserve a cold shoulder   from his coach.
    Dharmaraj had dropped Azzami, 24- years-old with 54  caps, upon returning from the Australian Tour last week.
   “I have trained under coach Tai Beng Hai, Stephen van   Huizen and recently Paul Revington and none of them had   any problems with my playing style, determination and   desire.
    “All the coaches liked me and I have represented the nation   54 times as proof,” said Azzami.
    “I always give my best in every match, training and team   activities,” added Azzami.
    He will now turn out for Tenaga Nasional in Division One of   the Malaysia Hockey League.
   Dharmaraj also cleared the air yesterday that he only said: “When I broke the news to him, I also said that you are a good boy and I have no problem with your attitude. I think it is better that you focus on your studies and you can also continue playing in Division One of the MHL.
   “I will now call up two other players and see how they progress in this ongoing selection process until the World Cup.”

Promising pool from JHL...

THE Junior Hockey League ended with a bang for SSTMI Thunderbolts over the weekend, but the rest of the teams need to do more than just soul searching.
   Division One had seven teams, while three groups in Division Two had 23 teams making the JHL into a mammoth tournament which showcased 540 players.
    But many teams had players who only went through the fixtures, and there was little improvements in their game after playing so many matches.
   Only a large number of players from Thunderbolts, UniKL Young Guns, Petaling Jaya City Council, Politeknik-KPM and Olak-PKT showed promise.
    And from the large pool, national  Juniors coach Arul Selvaraj named 25 trainees for the 2016 Junior World Cup,  with Division Two outfits Politek-KPM  and Olak-PKT providing six and three players respectively.
    Politeknik-KPM and Olak-PKT not only provided players for the national side, but also added spark to the otherwise predictable JHL.
     Politeknik went on the win the Division Two playoff title, while Olak qualified for the semi-finals, and the Division Two team finished a credible fourth and pocketed RM10,000.
   Thunderbolts, who won their third consecutive double, whacked the daylights out of every team they met, and even early season it was a well known fact that it was their title to lose.
    “This (third straight double) was a combined effort from the school as well as our sponsors Tenaga Nasional. We could not have done it alone,” said SSTMI Thunderbolts coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman.
    Arul Selvaraj will now get his chance to train the players every Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays while releasing his trainees to play for clubs in Division One of the Malaysia Hockey League.
    Arul does not have time on his side as he prepares a side for the Junior Asia Cup, which is a qualifier for the Junior World Cup in New Delhi in 2016.
    But with quality players selected from the JHL, his task has ben made easier by the club coaches who have already taught the basics, and now Arul only needs to strengthen their determination and desire to make an impact in the Asia Cup.
    For the record, Malaysia are the Junior Asia Cup champions and finished fourth in last year’s Junior World Cup in New Delhi.

Dharmaraj: No room for slackers..

NATIONAL chief coach K. Dharmaraj made a strong statement to his trainees when he dropped Azzami Abadi from the squad upon landing at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport form the Australian Tour on Sunday night.
    Malaysia had lost 5-1, 7-1, 9-0 and 4-2 to the mixed Australian national squad; and drew 3-3 with Australian Institute of Sports. 
    "I do not want players who waste government funds. Azammi lacked determination and desire and rather than he waste time and money, I dropped him,” said Dharma after the national team’s second friendly match against Canada where they lost 5-4.
  “I am sending a clear message to all players, do not feel you are indispensable,” said Dharmaraj ahead of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh on March 13-23.
    With the axing of Azammi, the number of players in the national training squad has been reduced from 35 to 27.
   Four players  – Azreen Rizal, Engku Malek, Harvinder Singh and Syamim Yusof -- had pulled out earlier.
    And six other players are on the crock list – goalkeeper keeper S. Kumar, Nabil Fiqri, Razie Rahim,  Roslan Jamaluddin and Kavin Karthik.
    Roslan is expected to be named in the Azlan Shah final squad together with Hafizuddin Othman.
   Dharma has called up Haziq Samsul, Joel van Huizen, Nor Syafiq Sumantri, Nor Azrul Rahman and Firdaus Omar as attachment players to the training squad.
    Two others, Kelvinder Singh and Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi have also been called up to join the training squad and are awaiting for release letters from their employers.
     “I will name the final 18 after the two matches against Australia and China in Ipoh on Tuesday,” said Dharmaraj.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Thunderbolts achieve dream hat-trick...

SSTMI Thunderbolts achieved their dream of a third straight Junior Hockey League double when they beat UniKL Young Guns 2-0 in the Milo Cup final at the Natioanal Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
    The former Bandar Penawar Sports School, now under a new name, won the double in 2012, 2013 and wrapped it up this season again.
    Thunderbolts coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman was elated with the achievement: "This is a hostoric moment for the school as we won the double yet again. However, it was not an easy win and credit also to UniKL players who put up a good fight."
    Wan Roslan also credited their sponsors TNB, for their support which has seen them grow in strength every season.
   "We could not have achieved this feat if not for our sponsors TNB, who helped us financially and also with coaching staff," said Wan Roslan.
    For UniKL, this was the fifth final which they played bridesmaid to Thunderbolts.
    "Another heartbreak for the club, even though my players gave their best but lost out in penalty corner defense. We did have our chances, but could not tuck them in," said UniKL coach Rodhanizam Radzi.
    UniKL Young Guns had the lions' share in the first half, and even won three penalty corners, but wasted all the sitters that came their way.
   The University side looked determined to score an early goal, but were denied on numerous occassions by Thunderbolts goalkeeper Fahmi Azaharuddin, who has a super game yesterday.
   The Johor Sports School even survived playing with 10 men in the opening stages of the second half when Mohd Najib Hassan was sent to the sin bin, as UniKL failed to take advantage on the numerical difference.
   Thunderbolts soaked in all the pressure and in one of the rare attacks, won their third penalty corner in the 34th minute and this time, Aminuddin Zain nailed the lead just before entering the dressing room for refreshments after playing under unbearable heat even though it was cloudy.
   After the restart, Thunderbolts started to play better hockey and nailed the second goal in the 57th minute, off another penalty corner attempt by Najmi Farizal.
   Meanwhile, Petaling Jaya City Council (PKCC) edged Olak-PKT 1-0 to lift the Milo Cup bronze medal. The PJCC hero was Nur Amin Zulkipli who scored off a third minute penalty corner.
   Olak tried their best to make a comeback, but ended fourth and collected RM10,000 while PJCC received RM12,000 for the bronze effort.
   ROLL OF HONOUR -- Fairplay: SM Datuk Taha (RM4,000); Man-of-the-Final: Fahmi Azaharuddin, Thunderbolts goalkeeper (RM1,500); Best Goalkeeper: Ridzwan Azmi (Politeknik-PKT, RM1,500); Top-Scorer: Aminuddin Mohd Zain, 18 goals (Thunderbolts, RM1,500); Most Promosing Player (Chua Boon Huat Trophy): Nor Shafiq Sumantri (UniKL, RM1,500).

Milo Cup

Champion: SSTMI Thunderbolts (RM25,000)
Runner Up: UniKL Young Guns (RM15,000)
Third: Petaling Jaya City Council (RM12,000)
Fourth: Olak-PKT (RM10,000)


Champions: SSTMI Thunderbolts (RM15,000)
Runner Up: UniKL Young Guns (RM10,000)
Third: Petaling Jaya City Council ( RM8,000)
Fourth: Malacca High School (RM7,000)
   RESULTS: Final -- UniKL Young Guns 0 SSTMI Thunderbolts 2; Third-Fourth: Olak-PKT 0 Petaling Jaya City Council 1.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Massive uphill battle for UniKL to lift Milo Cup..

UNIKL skipper Nor Azrul Rahman has lost five titles to SSTMI Thunderbolts in three seasons, and he is not about to hand them their third consecutive Milo Cup double when the teams square off today at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
   Thunderbolts won the double in 2012 and 2013, as well as the League title this season and look set to claim their third consecutive double today.
    The Division One title toss has been between UniKL and Thunderbolts since 2010 when UniKL won the Milo Cup, and shared the League title with Thunderbolts.
    And in 2011, Thunderbolts won the Milo Cup, but UniKL won the League title.
    However, the last two seasons has seen Thunderbolts grab both titles, and they even beat UniKL 4-1 for the League title this season.
    “I have been in the receiving end in the last five finals, but aim to turn the tables on Thunderbolts by rallying my men to give their best as records don’t guarantee that a team is unbeatable,” said Nor Azrul.
    The Jalan Peel Schoolboy was also selected into national juniors training on Friday, and two hours later he scored off a penalty stroke to beat Petaling Jaya City Council 2-1 in the return leg of the semi-finals.
    “Everything is looking rosy for me at this moment, but I have one more mission to accomplish and together with strong determination from my team-mates, I believe we can achieve it tomorrow (today),” said Nor Azrul.
    Thunderbolts scored a massive 22-2 aggregate win over MSP Pahang in the quarter-finals, and then whacked Olak-PKT 14-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals.
    Comparatively, UniKL Young Guns beat Politeknik- KPM 5-2 on aggregate in the quarters, and in the semis beat Petaling Jaya City Council 7-2 on aggregate.
    Thunderbolts are the raging favourites: “We will be counting on our penalty corners to do the danmage again as we have two experts in Aminuddin (Zain) and Najmi (Farizal),” said Thunderbolts coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman.
    “It has been a team effort so far with the forwards winning the penalty corners and the duo tucking them away.”
     Ten Thunderbolts players were selected for national juniors traning on Friday, with seven still with te outfit, while three other players who were also groomed by the Johor Sports School now play for UniKL and Politeknik-KPM.
    TODAY: Final -- UniKL Young Guns v SSTMI Thunderbolts (6pm); Third-Fourth: Olak-PKT v Petaling Jaya City Council (4pm).
   Both matches at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Thunderbolts-UniKL Milo Cup final..

UNIKL Young Guns will meet SSTMI Thunderbolts in the final of the Junior Hockey League Milo Cup this Sunday.
   Yesterday in the second leg semi-finals, UniKL beat Petaling Jaya City Council 2-1 for a 7-3 aggregate win, while SSTMI Thunderbolts beat Olak-PKT 8-0 for a 14-1 aggregate win.
   For the record, Thunderbolts beat UniKL 4-1 in the league, and the Johor Sports School hold the edge as they gun for their third consecutive JHL double.
     The UniKL goals were scored by Zizi Azwan in the eight minute, while skipper Nor Azrul Rahman scored off a penalty stroke in the 61st minute. The PJCC goal was scored by Zulaniq Adib in the 70th minute.
    And the Thunderbolts avalanche was scored by Danial Asyraf (11th), Ammar Zahan (18th, 34th), Zulhamizan Awang (33rd, 36th, 42nd), Aminuddin Zain (31st), Amirol Aidded (58th).
    UniKL coach Rodhanizah Radzi said: "We played much better in the first leg, and the boys took it easy in the return but still we won and now we have a chance to avenge our League defeat to them on Sunday."
    Rodhanizam, a former national palyer, feels his charges are better prepared after going through the quarters and semis.
   "We had a problem of scoring from penalty corners in the League and thats why we lost to Thunderbolts (4-1) in the League. But my players have overcome that problem in the knock-out stages and we are better prepared to face Thunderbolts in the Milo Cup final," said Rodhanizam.
    Thunderbolts coach Wan Roslan Rahman was elated with his team's 14-goal spree in the semis.
    "We expected to win against Olak and move into the final, but scoring 14 goals in the process showed that my players are primed to go for their third consecutive JHL double."
   RESULTS -- Milo Cup semi-finals (second leg): SSTMI Thunderbolts 8 Olak-PKT 0 (Thunderbolts win on 14-1 aggregate); UniKL Young Guns 2 Petaling Jaya City Council 1 (UniKL win on 7-2 aggregate).
   SUNDAY: Final -- UniKL Young Guns v SSTMI Thunderbolts (6pm); Third-Fourth: Olak-PKT v Petaling Jaya City Council (4pm). Both matches at Pitch I and II of the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Malaysian team has history on its side

Can Malaysia make its mark at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup?


When you ask a Malaysian to name his or her favourite sports, the chances are that hockey will feature heavily. And this is demonstrated by the number and quality of hockey events that the south-east Asian country has hosted in recent years, as well as the excitement and festival atmosphere that the Malaysian supporters bring to these occasions.

Kuala Lumpur played host to the first Commonwealth Games to include hockey as a sport in 1998, and won a silver medal in that event, losing out 4-0 to Australia in the final. In another first, Malaysia hosted the World Cup in 2002, the only (single) World Cup to feature 16 nations – something the FIH is re-introducing in 2016. It was also the first time squads were allowed 18 players instead of the standard 16, to counter the very hot and humid conditions.
The jewel in the crown for Malaysia, and it's hockey home, Kuala Lumpur, is the annual invitation-only Sultan Azlan Shah tournament, named after the ninth King of Malaysia, Sultan Azlan Shah, a keen follower of hockey. At this popular event, which has been held since 1983, and annually since 2003, 14 teams compete for the title. While Malaysia has never won the event, they have been runners-up on four occasions, most recently last year, losing out in the final to Australia.
The Junior World Cup has been hosted in Malaysia three times, most recently in 2009. Malaysia has finished fourth on four occasions.
Malaysia's most capped player is Kuhan Shanmuganathan (341 caps), who played for the national team from 1996-2007. The second most capped player, Chua Boon Huat, was tragically killed last year in a traffic accident. When he died, he had represented his country 337 times. Of the current players, Azlan Misron is the most capped, with 314 appearances. Azlan was captain of the national side which won bronze in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. 
Malaysia has a long history of playing hockey. While the first regulated game was played in England in 1886, the first formal match in Malaysia took place just 12 years later in Kuala Lumpur, between Harris’ XI and Whitley’s XI on Nov 30, 1898.
The first international was played in 1932, and the opponents on that occasion were the Indian Olympic squad. The Indian team had won Olympic gold in 1928 and again in the year of their visit. They then remained unbeaten at the Olympics until 1960. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the visitors won 7-0. A national hockey body was formed in 1947 and eight years later, Malaya, as it was then known, competed in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, where they finished ninth. Their best Olympic result to date was at the 1972 Olympics where they finished eighth and recorded four wins, including beating Spain and Argentina. 
In the Hockey World Cup, Malaysia have qualified seven times, including this year. Their best finish to date is fourth place in 1975, when they were hosts. This included a 2-1 win over the Netherlands. A similar result at the Hague in this year's Rabobank Hockey World Cup would certainly cement Malaysia's place at the top table of international hockey.

Going through the motions..

SSTMI Thunderbolts are set to play UniKL Young Guns in the Milo Cup final on Sunday, after both sides registered thumping wins in the first leg of the Milo Cup semi-finals on Wednesday.
     Thunderbolts zapped Olak-PKT 6-1, while UniKL beat Petaling Jaya City Council 5-2 t virtually turn the second leg semi-finals into a warm-up before the title clash on Sunday.
    Thunderbolts will be gunning for their double, while UniKL will be out to make amends to their 4-1 defeat to Thunderbolts in the League.
    However, UniKL have improved much since as even though they could only edge PJCC 2-1 in the League, there was a better performance from the University side in the first leg semi-finals.
   UniKL manager Faiz Isa said battle is only half won as they still have 70 minutes to play, and he knows that in hockey things can change with the blink of an eye.
   PJCC need to score an early goal if they harbour hopes of making a comeback and Faiz said the coaching staff of UniKL are well aware of this.
    “That is why we need to hit them first because if we allow them to score, it might give them the much needed boost,” said Faiz.
     “We cannot allow them to take control of the second leg and at the same time must make our chances count.”
    For Thunderbolts, it will just be another 70 minutes of hockey in the second leg as their minds are already on Sunday’s final.
   “We have a healthy lead and I cannot see us losing it. So, what we need to do is go through the motions and look forward to the final on Sunday,” said coach Wan Roslan Rahman.
    Olak-PKT has had a dream run thus far and their coach and manager combination of S. Sivabalan and Joseph de Silva should be proud of the exploits of their players.
   “We made many errors in the first leg but we are not going to give them a free ride into the final,” said coach Sivabalan.
    FRIDAY -- Milo Cup semi-finals (second leg): SSTMI Thunderbolts (6) v Olak-PKT (1) (5pm); UniKL Young Guns (5) v Petaling Jaya City Councik (2) (5pm). Both matches at Pitch I and II of the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.


NOTE: The New Straits Times have yet to receive the fixtures as well as accreditation form for the Azlan Shah Cup.

By http://www.malaysianhockey.blogspot.com/
Although the Organisors of the 2014 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup have acted childish, we owe a duty to hocket lovers worldwide to bring you news and updates on the tournament that will commence on March 13 until March 23 in Ipoh.
Trust www.azlanshacup.com to bring you updates, the whole truth stories, things that you never know that happened, exclusive reports on the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
Sponsors who need the much valued Return of Investments can contact us to publicise their involvement and we do not provide poor ratings as being dished out by others as this site was developed through passion, something money cannot buy.
Do not forget www.azlanshahcup.com, your only source of news.
And those journalists that have contacted us for Media Accreditation, we are truly sorry as they have others handling the event but we thank you for your continued support.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Meet the team – Malaysia dare to dream


Malaysia come into the Rabobank Hockey World Cup as the number 2-ranked team in Asia. Their best finish in a World Cup was fourth place in 1975, but after taking second place in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2013 and beating their local Asian rivals soundly in recent warm-up matches, the Malaysians will be hoping to perform well in the Hague.
    Placed 13th in the World Hockey Rankings, Malaysia hockey is looking to improve upon that position, and the national hockey confederation is heading a big push to develop hockey at junior and international level. Despite cuts to their funding, the national team's preparations for their Dutch endeavours will be thorough. Sharun Nabil and his team will be competing in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and the FIH Champions Challenge 1 as they prepare to bring 'national glory to Malaysia.'

Meet Team Malaysia - Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014

Revington's babies...

by S.S Dhaliwal

Paul and Sandy Revington have been blessed with the 
arrival of twin babies that were delivered
this morning (3/3/2014).
 Sandy is doing fine and the babies, a boy and girl
 have been named Max and Pippa respectively.
 The boy weighed 2.8kg and the girl 2.4kg.

Australia ready for eighth Azlan Shah Cup title

AUSTRALIA whacked Malaysia 9-0 in Perth on Feb 28 in their final preparation for the Azlan Shah Cup which will be held in Ipoh on March 13-23.
    The defending champions will be gunning for their eighth Azlan Shah Cup title, against the hosts, Canada, China, South Korea and South Africa in the 23rd edition.
     Malaysia went for a playing Tour in Perth, and played a combination of Western Australian sides before the hammering against the Australian High Performance Team.
    The first goal was scored in the 31st minute, while eight more came off a second half onslaught.
     And the Aussies will come to Ipoh with a strong side, led by five-time World Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer, and nine players who competed in the recent Hockey India League.
    Coach Ric Charlesworth’s side look set to claim the title again, as on board will also be three-time Olympian and Athens 2004 gold medallist Liam De Young.
     “The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is our last tournament before the World Cup and the squad has been picked with that in mind,” said Charlesworth.
    “We’ve selected based on a range of objectives, including load management. We’ve got athletes that have played in the Oceania Cup, World League Finals and Hockey India League and we need to look after them with both the World Cup and Commonwealth Games coming up. Some people, like Jamie Dwyer, were rested for the World League Finals but now need to come back and play with the group.”
    Charlesworth added that despite the recent withdrawal of Pakistan, the now six-team tournament has the quality to test Australia.
     “It’s unfortunate that a couple of teams (Pakistan and France) had to pull out but the likes of Korea, Malaysia and South Africa in particular are quality teams that will be at the World Cup.
   “The tournament format means that we’ll also have a few two-day rest periods, which is unusual in hockey but which we will experience in The Hague and at the Commonwealth Games so that too will be good preparation,” said Charlesworth.
    In the other matches in Perth against a mixed side, Malaysia went down 5-1, 7-1 and 4-2 and the only ray of light was a 3-3 draw.
    “We took a mixed side on the tour and the results were expected, but we still have three more matches against Canada in Malacca this weekend to select the best side for the Azlan Shah Cup,” said Dharmaraj.
    Malaysia lost 3-2 to Australia in the final of the last edition.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Olak-PKT scrape into semi-finals...

RESULTS: Quarter-finals return leg: Bukit Jalil Sports School  0 Petaling Jaya City Council 4 (PJCC win on 8-1
aggregate); Politeknik- KPM 0 UniKL Young Guns 2 (UniKL win on 5-2 aggregate); MSP Pahang 2 SSTMI 
Thunderbolts 14 (Thunderbolts win on 22-2 aggregate); Olak-PKT 0 Malacca High  School 2 (Olak-PKT win on 4-3
   SEMI-FINALS first leg -- Wednesday: SSTMI Thunderbolts v Olak-PKT; UniKL Young Guns v Petaling Jaya City
   Second leg: Friday -- Olak-PKT v SSTMI Thunderbolts; Petaling Jaya City Council v UniKL Young Guns.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Its Inspector Kelvinder Singh now...

FORMER national hockey player Kelvinder Singh (RIGHT) graduated today, the Malaysian Police force now have a gem of a gentleman...

MHC: It's OK for Arul to wear two hats...

 MALAYSIAN Hockey Confederation (MHC) coaching com mittee chairman Manjit Majid Abdullah and his men see no  harm in national Juniors head coach Arul Selvaraj wearing  two hats.
     Arul, who is also the head coach for UniKL Hockey Club,  was lambasted by Old La Sallians Association of Klang  (OLAK-PKT) team manager Joseph de Silva, who claimed  that his players were almost pinched in an unethical man ner.
   De Silva said Arul, in a telephone conversation, had asked  for three of his best Olak boys to play for UniKL in Division  One of the Malaysia Hockey League which begins on March  16 with the final slated for May 18.
    The Olak team manager felt it was unethical for a national  juniors coach to also scout for players for his club, as there  might be conflict of interest later.
    “A few years back, the coaching committee was of the  opinion that national juniors coaches should not coach club  sides, but we have changed our stand last year and now they  are allowed,” said Manjit.
    Manjit and his committee are of the opinion that since there  is no clause stopping a juniors coach to coach a club in his  contract, they should be no problems arising at this point.
    “I think the misunderstanding among a club coach and  Arul should be settled by holding a joint-discussion with the  competitions committee.
    “The competitions committee can answer questions on this  matter, and they can also advise all the clubs on what do  when such a matter arises in future,” said Manjit.
    Arul had said: “"I'm a professional, so even though I coach  a club side, I will only pick the best when it comes for national  duty and there is no conflict of interest between selection for  my club or my country.”
    However, since the matter has been brought up by de Silva,  Olak manager since 1995, the relevant bodies must make  sure that player-pinching at the highest level does not  happen.
    “No doubt, schools and then clubs are the ones who  nurture and turn players into national material, and so when  their boys get pinched there is bound to be some issues. But  lets work together for the sake of the country,” said Manjit.

UniKL's moment of truth...

THE return leg of the Milo Cup quarter-finals will only see  one tie which is still alive, UniKL Young Guns against  Politeknik-KPM at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit  Jalil on Sunday.
    Three teams in Olak-PKT, SSTMI Thunderbolts and Petal ing Jaya City Council all have healthy cushions from their first  leg on Friday.
    Politeknik-KPM, the Division Two playoff champions, were  a little jaded in the first leg, but have the players to turn the  tables on UniKL who only won 3-2 on Friday.
    During pre season, UniKL Young Guns were touted as the  team to beat in the Milo Junior Hockey League.
   But things went horribly wrong for them as not only were  they soundly beaten to the Division One League title by  defending champions SSTMI Thunderbolts (4-1), but they are  also struggling in the chase for the Milo Cup.
    Also missing is UniKL's 12th man - their supporters group  who provide the moral boost from the stands that drove the  team forward in previous seasons.
    “We struggled for large parts of the first leg and this  probably was due to the fact that the players were too eager  to seal the match early,” said UniKL Young Guns manager  Mohamed Faiz Isa.
     “Conceding the early goal put further pressure on the team  and that compounded matters. Only in the final ten minutes  did we play hockey we are capable off.
    “For the return leg we need to thread with caution and not  allow them to score as that will boost their confidence.”
     Faiz said that he was optimistic UniKL will make the last  four and their performance will improve.
    The other last-eight matches are just formalities, as  SSTMI  Thunderbolts hold an 8-0 lead over MS Pahang Juniors. BJSS  trail PJCC 4-1 and Malacca High School also trail Olak-PKT 4- 1.
    “We are a young side and considering that making the last  eight was a good achievement," said MS Pahang coach  Benedict Arrias.
     “Let's be honest, Thunderbolts are a class act and we hope  that one day our players too will play with the same  confidence as our quarters opponents do.”
     For BJSS, they are not prepared to throw in the towel yet:  “We need to score an early goal to get back into the match,”  said BJSS coach S. Prakash.
    “We made far too many mistakes in defence and could have  avoided the heavy defeat had we played with more confidence. Still I believe that we can bounce back if we show  determination from the first whistle.”
     Olak are playing with renewed confidence and should  make it through to the last four, a creditable achievement for  a Division Two side who missed the 2010 edition through  financial troubles, the only time they did not play in the MJHL  since it's inception in 1995.
     SUNDAY: Quarter-finals return leg: Bukit Jalil Sports School   (1) v Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (4) (4pm, Pitch II);  Politeknik- KPM (2) v UniKL Young Guns (3) (4pm, Pitch I);  MSP Pahang (0) v SSTMI  Thunderbolts (8) (6pm, Pitch II);  Olak-PKT (4) v Malacca High School (1) (6pm, Pitch I).
   (Note: All matches at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit   Jalil. First leg scores in parenthesis).