Saturday, May 31, 2014

Malaysia 0 Australia 4

 Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin in action against Australia ..

THE Malaysian hockey team played well in patches and went down 4-0 to world no 1 Australia in the curtain raiser of the World Cup at the Hague, Netherlands yesterday.
   The score was 1-0 at half-time, but world no 13 Malaysia let in three more soft goals in the second half.
   Glenn Turner started the count with a 25th minute goal, while the other goals were scored by Eddie Ockenden (50th), Jamie Dwyer (52nd), and Turner (54th).
   All the second half goals were scored in a spate of four minutes, as Malaysia collapsed at the back-line.
   Only the heroics of goalkeeper S, Kumar, who saved at least seven attempts, saved a total drubbing.
    Malaysia will next play Belgium on Monday.
    Yesterday morning, the Malaysian team were hit by another bad news as coach K. Dharmaraj’s gather, R. Kanniah, passed away in India a few hours before the match against Australia.
    Dharmaraj had this posted on his FaceBook: “Thank you all, for your condolence messages with regards to my father's sudden demise. As it has been difficult moment with so many sad and bad news. Thanks for the kind words and concern.
   “It is difficult but your words make me strong. Thank you again.”
   The match statistics sided Australia, as they had 11 shots at goal while Malaysia only had two. The Aussies also had six penalty corners but they failed to score a single goal, as Malaysia defended well.
   The two penalty corners won by Malaysia were executed by Razie Rahim and Faizal Saari but were nicely stopped by the first runners.
    RESULTS -- GROUP A: Malaysia 0 Australia 4, Belgium x India x, England x Spain x.
   MALAYSIA’S World Cup Fixtures (Malaysian time) -- June 2: v Belgium (11.30pm); June  5: v  England (7pm); June 7: v India (8.30pm); June 9: v Spain   (8.30pm).

Friday, May 30, 2014

Kookaburras lose Simpson & Ford to injury

Deavin & Gohdes called up.

Author: Lawrence West/Friday, 30 May 2014/Categories: Hockey Australia News, Kookaburras, Events, World Cup
The Kookaburras have made two changes to the squad for the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, which begins on Saturday in The Hague.
Victorian Glenn Simpson has been withdrawn from the squad after sustaining a fractured ankle in last Sunday’s Test match against England. He will be replaced by Tasmanian Tim Deavin, who is one of two travelling reserves to have trained and played with the World Cup team in England and the Netherlands over the past ten days. 
After sustaining a calf tear in a practice match against Germany on Thursday, Victorian Russell Ford (pictured) has also been withdrawn from the squad. Ford will be replaced by Queenslander Matt Gohdes, who is already with the team in The Hague as a travelling reserve. 

Both Deavin and Gohdes were members of the Australian team that won the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

1 day to the Malaysia-Australia cracker...

MALAYSIA’S World Cup Fixtures (Malaysian time) -- Saturday:  v Australia (4.30pm); June 2: v Belgium (11.30pm); June  5: v  England (7pm); June 7: v India (8.30pm); June 9: v Spain   (8.30pm).

German-born Kevin KOed by hamstring...

Kevin Lim (left) pulled a hamstring during the practice match on May 29, 2014, and has been ruled out of the World Cup. Mohamed Izad Hakimi will be his replacement. – S. S. Kanesan / THE STAR

THE Malaysian hockey team is expected to face a torrid defense test against world No 1 Australia in the in the curtain raiser of the World Cup at the Hague, Netherlands, today.
   As hours before the big match, coach K. Dharmaraj had to reshuffle his defence again, as German-born Kevin Lim pulled a hamstring and has been ruled out for the tournament.
   Izat Hakimi Jamaluddin is being flown in as a replacement and will only arrive today morning, and jet-lag could pose a big problem when he is paired with Razie Rahim in the opener.
   “Kevin pulled a hamstring during our last training match against a Dutch club-side (Friday), and he has been ruled out of the tournament.
   “I still consider it as a lucky break as we had time to fly in a replacement at the 11th hour and I picked Izat over Ahmad Kazamirul and Baljit Singh.
   “I had three choices, Kazamirul is also a flicker but we have enough flickers (for penalty corners) in the team while Baljit has been on and off injuries and I was afraid he will get injured again if he pushes himself in the World Cup.
    “As for Izat, he played in the Azlan Shah Cup as well as the Champions Challenge 1 but unfortunately when the World Cup selection was done, he was down with viral fever and hospitalised.
    “But Izat has recovered now, and I believe he is the best choice among the three options I had as replacement,” said Dharmaraj.
   Izat is the younger brother of No 1 goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin, who is the only surviving member of the 2002 World Cup in the Malaysian side at the Hague.
    The other set of brothers are Faizal and Fitri Saari.
   As for the opening match against Australia who Malaysia lost 8-3 to in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup, Dharmaraj will rely on counter attacks.
   “It would be suicidal to play an open game against Australia, and we hope to do the damage on counter attacks.
   “Also the defenders, especially (goalkeeper) S. Kumar, will have to be at their best to defend Australia’s penalty corners for the team to post a good result,” said Dharmaraj.
   For the record, Kumar was not between the posts when Malaysia lost 8-3, but juniors goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman.
  MALAYSIA’S World Cup Fixtures (Malaysian time) -- Today: v Australia (4.30pm); June 2: v Belgium (11.30pm); June  5: v England (7pm); June 7: v India (8.30pm); June 9: v Spain  (8.30pm).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Moments of respect for the icon..

MALAYSIA will open their World Cup campaign against  world No 1 Australia this Saturday, and there will be a  moment of silence before the match to recognise the contributions of the late Sultan Azlan Shah.
   Azlan Shah, who died on Wednesday, was the Asian Hockey  Federation (AHF) president as well as an Executive Board  member of the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
    “Sultan Azlan Shah was an important and passionate  member of our Executive Board and we are very saddened by  this news,” said Leandro Negre, president of FIH.
   “Our condolences go out to his Royal Highness’ entire  family and especially his wife, Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku  Bainun, his son, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah and daughters, Dato  Seri Raja Azureen, Raja Eleena and Raja Yong Sofia,” added  Negre.
    FIH CEO Kelly Fairweather said: “This is a great loss for the  hockey world as Sultan Azlan Shah was an icon in hockey.
  “His commitment and his dedication as an ambassador for  the sport will truly be missed.”
    The FIH press release also said: “Moments of respect will  be paid during the Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The  Hague, Netherlands.”
    Azlan Shah passed away at the age of 86 after being the  president of the AHF since 1990, and saw the growth of AHF  from 20 to its now 31 members.
    In addition, Azlan Shah was pivotal in the start-up of the  Raja Ashman AHF-MHFC Academy, which is now the leading  centre for hockey officials and coaches in Asia.
    Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj said his players will wear a  black arm-band as a mark of respect.
   “The players and officials were all shocked when we heard  about the passing of Azlan Shah, and on a personal note, he  was a guiding figure when I was a national player, as well as  when I became a coach. I remember with fondness when he  came to watch my boys become champions in the Junior Asia  Cup in Malacca (and qualified for the Junior World Cup),”  said Dharmaraj.
    MALAYSIA’S World Cup Fixtures (Malaysian time) -- May  31 v Australia (4.30pm); June 2: v Belgium (11.30pm); June  5: v England (7pm); June 7: v India (8.30pm); June 9: v Spain  (8.30pm).

He helped many hockey players

Sultan Azlan rarely cracked jokes, so he caught me by surprise when he whispered into my ears:....

By Jugjet Singh

 KUALA LUMPUR: THE Father of Malaysian Hockey left his mark on so many areas of the sport that it would be impossible for any other official to even come close to his work since 1966.
    Sultan Azlan Shah had not only established his own invitational tournament which has been running since 1983, but was also credited with founding the Yayasan Hoki Malaysia (YHM) in 1992. The foundation helps national players to further their studies, and provides them financial assistance, depending on the number of caps when they retire.
  Back then, there was no help for players who needed money to enrol into universities, but when the father of one player approached Sultan Azlan in the 1990s, he started the ball rolling for a foundation to give players the opportunity to have a better future when they hang up their hockey sticks.
   Some players became professionals, such as doctors and engineers, with the help of the YHM, which also gives out medical benefits and other forms of aid to players facing financial difficulty after they were no longer playing with the national team.
   Sultan Azlan's vision to organise an international tournament in 1983 won accolades from the International Hockey Federation as the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup became the longest running private tournament in the world.
  The idea for the tournament began in 1980 when Sultan Azlan looked at the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) accounts and saw that travelling overseas to play friendlies takes a big chunk of their annual budget.
   This story was told to me by the late MHF secretary S. Satgunam: "The Sultan then asked me and Tan Sri (P. Alagendra, former MHF deputy president), what if we brought six teams to Malaysia to play in a tournament instead of sending the Malaysian team to six countries to play friendly matches?
   "Would it not cut travelling, accommodation and food costs by more than half?
  "The meeting room fell silent, after which there was a round of applause before we started working on the idea, and the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup was born," revealed Satgunam.
   In 1983, that suggestion became a reality, and Australia became the champion with Pakistan as runner-up, India in third and Malaysia in fourth place.
   Back then, the teams were provided with flight tickets. Now, boarding and lodging are still free for invited sides.
   There was all the glitter and fanfare at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium this year, with the fans turned up in full force as the Malaysian team went on a roll, but missing was Sultan Azlan, his golden coloured chair empty as he fought his private battle with illness.
   It was a sad sight, as the chair was never empty when he was previously healthy. Sultan Azlan  used to arrive 30 minutes before the first match, which would normally start at 5pm, and then watch the 7pm as well as 9pm matches before departing.
   It was a routine in every match day of his tournament, until recently, as Malaysia won back-to-back silver medals in the last two editions. Sadly, he was not well to watch both achievements.
   Sultan Azlan was ever the gentleman, as even when the press criticised him relentlessly in 2004, and called for his resignation as MHF president, he always had a smile for the writers.
   After one hard-hitting article, which outlined the failure of the MHF to help its states develop grassroots hockey, the body held an emergency meeting, and among the resolutions was to sue the press.
   Following a two-hour meeting, out came Sultan Azlan with a smile: "Jugjet, the council wants to sue you for the article today... but I told them to relax, as the points raised were not allegations, but the truth."
  He then stepped down as MHF president and handed over the reins to his son, Raja Nazrin Shah, but kept playing an active role as the Asian Hockey Federation president as well as a board member of the International Hockey Federation till the very end.
   In his last meeting with me, three Azlan Shah Cups ago, when he was still able to watch matches, the Sultan called me again to meet him outside the stadium after Malaysia played another really bad match.
   Sultan Azlan rarely cracked jokes, so he caught me by surprise when he whispered into my ears: "Japan, South Korea and Malaysia went to meet God and ask him the same question. Japan asked first 'When will they win the World Cup', and God answered 'Soon' and the whole of Japan cried in happiness.
   "Korea asked the same question, and the answer was also 'Soon', and the whole of Korea cried in joy. Then came Malaysia's turn, and when we asked God when will the Malaysian hockey team win the World Cup... God cried."
   It was a joke with a reality punch line that caught me by surprise and I asked him if I could quote him in the next article, and he replied: "Not as long as I'm still around", and gave me a knowing smile.
   The best Malaysia could give Sultan Azlan at his own invitational tournament was a handful of silver medals, but never a gold medal.
   Nonetheless, he had certainly left Malaysia a gold mine in legacy when he first came up with the tournament.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Oranjemannen leggen Maleisië op de pijnbank (Orangemen put Malaysia on the rack)

The Orangemen have an exhibition game Sunday against Malaysia won . The team of coach Paul van Ass put the number thirteen (12th now) of the world with 8-2 on the side . Netherlands practice before the start of the World Cup three more times : against New Zealand , South Korea and South Africa .
Netherlands saw Sunday Robbert Kemperman return. The midfielder from Kampong missing Friday against Spain because of a hernia in his little toe . Sander Baart was absent in Orange . The center-center ran against Spain a slight knee injury, which he kept as a precaution on the side. Reserve Player Hidde Turkstra thus made ​​his appearance at our countrymen .
Orange needed to break against Malaysia , the lowest ranked World Cup participant. Captivated a quarter Mink van der Weerden opened the scoring in a characteristic way , he dragged the ball hard into the ropes . After a swift equalizer Tengku Ahmad , Orange Rose before the break away. Through a magnificent goal by Billy Baker and a tip - in by Valentin Verga counter rose to 3-1 .
Where Verga was administered just before the break by Rogier Hofman , the roles were reversed after the break . After midfielder Bloemendaal had completed the quartet again was the turn of Verga with a beautiful backhand shot brought the 5-1 on the board . Baker took care for the sixth Dutch hit, then Tengku back doing something on behalf of Malaysia . Van der Weerden and Robbert Kemperman vijzelden the score in the dying minutes even briefly to 8-2 . ( @ ReemtBorcherts )
Netherlands - Malaysia 8-2 ( 3-1 )16 1-0 Van der . Weerden ( sc )16 1-1 . Tengku25. Bakker 2-131 3-1 . Verga38 . 4-1 Hofman48. 5-1 Verga53 Bakker 6-1 .64. 6-2 Tengku67 7-2 Van der Weerden .68 8-2 . Kemperman
Photo: Reuters / Koen Suyk

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dharmaraj picks his men..

COACH K. Dharmaraj will be taking a big risk by fielding two defenders who will be paired for the first time in the pinnacle of hockey at the Hague, Netherlands beginning May 31.
   German-born Kevin Lim and Razie Rahim's combination will be tested for the first time together, and that too in the World Cup. Kevin earned his first caps for Malaysia in the Champions Challenge 1 (CC1) in Kuantan, where Razie did not play because of injury.
   And they will be tested against World No 1 Australia in the first day of the tournament itself, followed by another grueling test against in-form world no 5 Belgium (June 2). The other teams in Malaysia's Group A are world no 4 England (June 5), world no 8 India (June 7) and world no 10 Spain (June 9).
   Reigning Olympic champions Germany, Holland New Zealand, South Korea, Argentina and South Africa are drawn in Group B.
    Experienced defender Baljit Singh, who was Razie's right-hand-man in many previous tournaments, as well as the World League Qualifier where Malaysia won the ticket to the Haque -- was left out in the cold.
   Malaysia last played in the 2002 World Cup, and 12 years later the only player left standing from that eara is goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin while the rest will make their debut.
   Dharmaraj made five changes from the bronze winning side in the Champions Challenge, and former skipper Shahrun Nabil made an entry after being sidelined in two major tournaments this year -- the CC1 and the Azlan Shah Cup where Malaysia won silver.
   The other two players named for the World Cup are midfielder  Ramadan Rosli and forward Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi.
  The five players dropped from the Champions Challenge 1 squad are goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman, defenders Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin and Ahmad Kazamirul; midfielder Azri Hassan and forward Rashid Baharom.
    Dharmaraj said that he named team based on current form and experience and it is the best team to put up a strong challenge in the World Cup.
   “The players are in high spirit and they have vowed to give their best in the World Cup,” said Dharmaraj.
    “The return of Razie, will definitely beef up our defense as he is the best defender in the country. We are also banking on him to deliver goals from his penalty corner drag flicks.
   “I have included Roslan, Shahrun and Hafifi as they are experience players, who have shown their ability in training,” said Dharmaraj.
   “Our rankings improved by one rung to 12 in the world after we won the bronze in the Champions Challenge 1. And we will be going to the World Cup after a lapse of 12 years to further improve our world rankings,” said Dharmaraj, who took over as the national chief coach from South Africa’s Paul Revington in January.
  “The MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) have a set a target for the national team to finish top 10 in the World Cup but we should strive to do much better to further improve our rankings,” said Dharmaraj.
   World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin.
Defenders: Azlan Misron (captain), Razie Rahim, Kevin Lim, Faiz Helmi, Sukri Mutalib.
Midfielders: Fitri Saari, Marhan Jalil, Shahrun Nabil, Ramadan Rosli, Nabil Fiqri Noor.
Forwards: Ismail Abu, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Faizal Saari, Firhan Ashaari, Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi, Shahril Saabah.

Team manager: George Koshy
Stand in manager: Nor Azlan Bakar
Chief coach: K. Dharmaraj
Assistant coach: K. Gobinathan
Team doctor: Razana Abdul Raffar
Physiotherapist: Yeo In-seung

Hush-Hush for 1more day...

 NOTE: Spot on prediction
The possible five names that might be included in the World Cup squad today are Razie Rahim, goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin, Shahrun Nabil, Hafifi Hafiz and Mohamed Ramadhan Rosli.

  WORLD CUP: Protocol forces Dharmaraj to delay naming his squad

COACH K. Dharmaraj was willing to name his final 18 for the World Cup yesterday, but protocol saw him keep his lips sealed.
All he was willing to say there will be five changes from the side that played in the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan.
"I can name my final 18 right now, but have been told to keep it for another day.
"However, I can reveal that there will be five changes from the team that won bronze in Kuantan," said Dharmaraj during a cheque presentation ceremony by Sime Darby Foundation in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Sime Darby came in to the tune of RM4 million to help fund men's and women's hockey development until the 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympics.
The possible five names that might be included in the World Cup squad today are Razie Rahim, goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin, Shahrun Nabil, Hafifi Hafiz and Mohamed Ramadhan Rosli.
Sime Darby Foundation chief executive officer Yatela Zainal Abidin said: "The RM4 million sponsorship is for a two-year period and will, among others, facilitate the senior men's and women's team participation in various local and foreign tournaments. It will include subsidising the team's tickets, accommodation, meals and team's attire."
Yesterday the World Cup T-shirt was unveiled with the Sime Darby logo prominently displayed at the front.
"We are looking for a good finish in the World Cup, as we hope to elevate our current 13th position to at least 10th in the world," said Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Malaysia are in Group A with World No 1 Australia, Belgium, England, Spain and India.
Tengku Abdullah thanked Sime Darby for its contribution: "It will go a long way in helping hockey and I am sure after this there will no longer be any issues about late payments of salaries (to coaches)."
Coach Dharmaraj had to resort to almost quitting the team on the eve of the World Cup, for the MHC to agree to pay him five months of backdated salary as well as a better contract.
On another note, Tengku Abdullah said let the best man win in the FA of Malaysia elections this weekend.
"Many quarters have asked if I will leave hockey after winning the FAM elections, and my answer is let me cross the bridge first before making a statement.
"However, suffice to say I will not leave hockey without finding a capable replacement as the sport is on its upward trend and needs a strong hand to take it to the next level."
The national players also received a windfall as those who played in the World League semi-finals received RM5,000 while Junior World Cup players were RM10,000 richer.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Meet Team Belgium - Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014

Maninderjit: Select the best, and give your best..

COACH K. Dharmaraj will name his squad for the World  Cup today, with minor changes from the Champions Challenge 1 squad which finished third in Kuantan.
   The major boost could be in the form no 1 penalty corner  flicker and defender Razie Rahim, if he is give the green light  on his dislocated shoulder by the medical team.
   And Razie’s right-hand man Baljit Singh is also hoping to  be included after being rested for the Azlan Shah Cup and the  Champions Challenge 1.
   For the record, with the absence of these two stalwart  defenders, Malaysia scored 17 goals, but also let in 17 goals  in the Champions Challenge 1.
    Former international Maninderjit Singh, who has played in  two World Cups, two Olympics, two Asian Games, Champions  Trophy and Commonwealth Games -- feels Dharmaraj should  select the best without fear-or-favour.
    “There were some rumblings on the ground during the  Champions Challenge 1 that the best were not selected and  that demoralised some players. Coach Dharmaraj had to  come out strongly in the media to calm matters.
    “The coach should select the best, as in the end, he will be  the one answerable on the team’s performance at the World  Cup,” said Maninderjit who played in the 1998 Utrecth and  2002 Kuala Lumpur World Cups.
    His Olympic moments were in 1996 Atlanta and 2000  Sydney.
    Another player who could make a comeback to the fold is  Shahrun Nabil, a former skipper, who was dropped from  Champions Challenge 1 because he sent a nasty sms to one of  the coaches.
    Shahrun’s absence also made a big difference as he is a  dependable midfielder.
   Dharmaraj had said that there will be minor changes, as he  fights for time to name the team: “There could be some  changes from the Kuantan squad, but only two or three as  time is not with me.”
    Malaysia last played in the World Cup back in 2002, and  their opening opponents were Australia, who will again be  the main opening hurdle for Dharmaraj’s men on May 31.
   Australia, world no 1, and world No 13 Malaysia last played  in the Azlan Shah Cup final and the score was an unflattering  8-3.
   “When we played Australia in the opening match in 2002,  the score was 0-0 at half-time. But we let in three soft goals in  the second half. My team was at the verge of playing in the  semi-finals but lost out the spot to South Korea when we drew  2-2 with Poland.
   “My advise to the players who will be heading to the Hague  is that to become better players, they must not fear when  playing the best in the world. I actually enjoyed playing  against opponents like Australia, Germany and Nether lands.
   “We were told by our coaches then that ‘Will beats Skills’  and that motivated us to finish 8th among 16 teams in Kuala  Lumpur which i believe is a big achievement. I hope the  current batch will not give up until the final whistle as every  team in the world is beatable just with sheer determination  and will-power,” said Maninderjit.
    The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) believe their  charges should at least finish 10th among the 12 teams in the  Netherlands, but in reality, they will be struggling not to sink  to the bottom like a rock.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rajan sets Pahang semis target...

FORMER national juniors hockey coach K. Rajan will be coaching the Pahang Malaysia Games team in Perlis, and he has set a semi-finals target for his boys.
   The Games will be held from May 24-June 4, with 13 teams in the boys as well as 13 teams in the girls hockey tournament.
   Pahang are in Group A with defending champions Terengganu, Johor, Perlis, Perak and Sabah.
    In Group B are 2012 runners-up Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Sarawak and Kelantan.
   The top two teams from each group to play in the semi-finals.
    The women’s event will also have 13 teams with champions Terengganu in Group A with Johor, Sarawak, Negri Sembilan, Pahang and Sabah.
    The teams in Group B are KL, Selangor, Perlis, Perak, Penang, Malacca and Kedah.
   “The target is to qualify for the semi-finals, and in the long run, we plan to become champions by 2016 as 15 from the current 18 are still eligible to play in two years time,” said Rajan.
    Selangor, who have never won the Malaysia Games gold, are keen to finally lay their hands on it.
   Selangor ended their 21-year wait for the National Under-21 title when they beat Perak in last year’s final. The regulation time score was 3-3 but Selangor won the penalty shoot-out 5-4 -- despite not having an artificial pitch to train on.
   “We are confident of doing well in the Malaysia Games as we have been preparing the team since 2012,” said Selangor HA secretary P. Kuganeson.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sikhs at Kuala Lumpur World Cup 2002

by Dil Bahra

Malaysia’s umpire, Amarjit Singh, in action during the Kuala Lumpur 2002 World Cup.

In our series of the impact Sikhs have had at Men’s Hockey World Cups, we look at the tenth World Cup held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2002.

The tenth Men’s Hockey World Cup was held at Malaysia National Hockey Stadium, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 24 February - 9 March 2002.

Sixteen nations competed and were divided into two pools of eight as follows:

Pool A: Argentina, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Spain.

Pool B: Australia, Cuba, England, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Poland.

One Sikh Official, an umpire, was appointed for the Kuala Lumpur World Cup.

Amarjit Singh of Malaysia was on the Umpires panel for his second World Cup, having umpired at the Utrecht 1998 World Cup. He was born in Ipoh, Malaysia and was educated at the Anglo-Chinese School in Ipoh. He graduated from the Open University Malaysia. He was associated with the Perak State Players Association.

He started umpiring at the age of 20 and his first international match was in a 4 Nations tournament in Darwin, Australia when he umpired the Australia v Argentina match in May 1992. He was awarded his International badge in April 1993 and his Grade 1 badge in February 1996. He umpired at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1998 and was awarded his World Panel badge in August 1998.

He umpired at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

The Indian team, which was captained by a Sikh, Baljit Singh Dhillon, had seven Sikhs in their squad for Kuala Lumpur 2002 World Cup. This was the exact same setup as in 1975 when the World Cup was played in Kuala Lumpur in 1975 and India won the Gold.

Baljit Singh Dhillon in action

Baljit Singh Dhillon, India’s captain at the Kuala Lumpur 2002 World Cup, was born in Padhr, near Amritsar. He studied at Khalsa College Jalandhar. A forward, he played for Punjab Police and earned his first international cap in 1993 against South Africa. He played at the Champions Trophy in 1995 in Berlin and the Asian Games in 1994 in Hiroshima and in 1998 in Bangkok.

Baljit played at the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

He scored 4 goals at the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 2002.

Daljit Singh Dhillon, a forward and younger brother of team captain Baljit, was also making his first appearance at a World Cup. He was born in Jalandhar, Punjab. He played for Punjab Police. He made his international debut in 1998. He played at the Champions Challenge in Kuala Lumpur in December 2001 where India won the Gold.

Daljit, like his elder brother, also scored 4 goals at the Kuala Lumpur 2002 World Cup.

Baljeet Singh Saini, a half back from Punjab was making his second appearance at a World Cup, having played at Utrecht 1998 World Cup. He was born in Ropar, Punjab and played for Punjab & Sindh Bank. He won his first international cap when he was selected for Indra Gandhi Gold Cup in Lucknow in 1995. He captained India’s team at Milton Keynes Junior World Cup in 1997 where India won the Silver medal. He also played at the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998 where India won the Gold medal.

Baljeet played at the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Jugraj Singh, a full back and a drag flicker, was making his first appearance at a World Cup. He was born in Rayya, near Amritsar in Punjab. He trained at Surjeet Singh Hockey Academy in Jalandhar and later at Air India Hockey Academy in Delhi. He played at the U18 Asia Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia in 2001 and in the same year played at the Junior World Cup in Hobart and Champions Challenge in Kuala Lumpur.

Jugraj scored three penalty corner goals at the Kuala Lumpur 2002 World Cup. 

Kanwalpreet Singh, a fullback from Punjab Police, was making his first appearance at a World Cup. He was born in Jalandhar, Punjab, and played for Punjab Police. He made his international debut in 2000. He played at the Junior Asia Cup in May 2000 and Junior World Cup in Hobart in 2001, which India won. He played in the Champions Challenge in Kuala Lumpur in December 2001 where India won the Gold.

Prabhjot Singh, a forward from Punjab, was also making his first appearance at a World Cup. He was born in Masania in Punjab and studied at Adarsh Vidya Mander in Batala. He played for Indian Oil Corporation. He earned his first international cap in 1999 and played at the Hobart 2001 Junior World Cup where India won the Gold.

Prabhjot scored three goals at the Kuala Lumpur 2002 World Cup. 

Sukbir Singh Gill, a mid-field player, was making his first appearance at a World Cup. He was born in Chandigargh, Punjab and graduated from Punjab University in Chandigargh. He played for Bharat Petroleum and won his first international cap at the Azlan Shah Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 1995. He played in the Champions Challenge in Kuala Lumpur in December 2001 where India won the Gold.

Sukbir played at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Two Sikh brothers were playing in the same team for the fourth time in World Cup history. Baljit and Daljit Singh Dhillon of India were following in the foot-steps of brothers Harvinder and Amarjeet Singh Marwa of Kenya who played in the 1st World Cup in Barcelona in 1971; Harmik and Ajit Singh of India who played at the 2nd World Cup in Amstelveen in 1973 and Hargurnek and Hargurpreet Sandhu of Canada who played at the Lahore 1990 World Cup.

The Dhillon duo Baljit and Daljit scored eight goals at the Kuala Lumpur 2002 World Cup, four a piece.

India Team: 1. Devesh Chauchan (G/K); 2. Ignance Tirkey; 3. Baljit Singh Saini; 4. Prabhjot Singh; 5. Jugraj Singh; 6. Dilip Tirkey; 7. Dhanraj Pillay; 8. Baljit Singh Dhillon (Capt); 9. Jude Menezes (G/K); 10. Sabu Varkey; 11. Sukbir Singh Gill; 12. Lajrus Barla; 13. Arjun Halappa; 14. Deepak Sonkhla Thakur; 15. Bipin Fernandez; 16. Kanwalpreet Singh; 17. Daljit Singh Dhillon; 18. Thirumalvalavan Selvarj.

Manager: KGS Alva; Coach: Cedric D’Souza (1st 4 matches) & C R Kumar.

The Malaysian team had one Sikh in their squad for Kuala Lumpur 2002 World Cup.

Maninderjit Singh Sidhu of Malaysia

Maninderjit Singh Sidhu was making his second appearance at a World Cup, having played at the Utrecht 1998 World Cup.

He was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and graduated from University of Malaya. A defender/sweeper, he played for Sapura Hockey Club. He was selected for the Junior squad in January 1990 and played at the Junior World Cup in Tarrasa, Spain in 1993. He earned his first senior cap in November 1992 and played at the Champions Trophy in Kuala Lumpur in 1993. He played at the Asian Games in Hiroshima in 1994 and in Bangkok in 1998. He played at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 where Malaysia won the Silver medal.

He played at the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Maninderjit scored a penalty stroke goal at Kuala Lumpur 2002 World Cup.

Malaysia Team: 1. Roslan Jamaluddin (G/K); 2. Maninderjit Singh Sidhu; 3. Boon Huat Chua; 4. Gobinathan Krishanmurthy; 5. Kuhan Shanmuganathan; 6. Nor Azlan Haji Bakar; 7. Chairal Anwar Abd Aziz; 8. Jiwa Mohan; 9. Mohd Madzli Ikmar; 10. Tajol Rosli Mohamed; 11. Mohd Rodhanizam Mat Radzi; 12. Keevan Raj Kali Kavandan; 13. Mirnawan Hj. Nawawi (Capt); 14. Logan Raj Kali Kavandan; 15. Shaiful Azli Abd Rahman; 16. Mohd Nasihin Nubli Ibrahim (G/K); 17. Mohd Fairuz Ramly; 18. Shankar Shanmugam.

Manager: Data Rajaratnam Yogeswaran; Coach: Paul Lissek (Germany).

Final Classification: 1. Germany; 2. Australia; 3. Netherlands; 4. Korea; 5. Pakistan; 6. Argentina; 7. England; 8. Malaysia; 9. New Zealand; 10. India; 11. Spain; 12. Japan; 13. South Africa; 14. Belgium; 15. Poland; 16 Cuba.

Next week: 11th World Cup – Monchengladbach, Germany, 2006.

Sikhs in Hockey

Friday, May 16, 2014

At 24, international debut for Jasjit

He has not come through the hard-grind of Academies. He in a way represents amateur-kind of players, who don’t compromise studies for the sake of hockey. Yet, in a short span of taking of up hockey, knocked the doors of Indian team. And makes his international debut not in a run-of-of the mill stuff, but in the mother of all battles, the world cup.
    Here you have Punjab’s puttar Jasjit Singh, who is a kind of Viren Rasquinha as he is doing Masters in Business Administration nowadays.
   The 24-year old has been included in the Indian team bound for The Hague. Perhaps after Cedric Pereira, now settled in Perth, Australia, a player is making his international debut in a world cup. Cedric was a surprise choice for the first world cup held in Barcelona.
   “He trained well, we all felt he can be a good choice”, asserts smiling Roelant Oltmans, who first tested him in the Hockey India League early this year. Jasjit Singh was part of the medal winning team 2014.
   “The coach, selection committee are all unanimous of his choice, its unfortunate he had suffered a minor injury before the Europe Tour, and missed it”, elaborates Oltamans.
   Jasjit was on the other day had to face the same question from the media at the Holiday Inn where the world cup team was announced, amidst the galaxy of 1975 World Cup goldies. The question was: Don’t you feel the pressure to play your first tournament in World Cup?
   The smiling assassin has only one answer: “My coaches say differently. Because I did not play any other tournament, I will be natural, and play my game. This is what I also believe the scene is going to be”
   Its not often one come across in India a player making international debut at the age of 24 – considering his colleague in The Hague team Mandeep Singh is six years junior to him, and has already been in the international circuit for well over two years – but Jasjit Singh, who was picked up among the 90-odd probables after the Pune Senior Nationals when Michael Knobbs was at the helm of affairs, could not make any headway further than continue to play for his college team Khalsa in Jalandhar, but his days could not be denied for long.
    With a strong midfield where captain Sardar Singh is well anchored, the think tank seemed to have taken a risk of sort in picking up the new face.
    It’s a reward for Jasjit, who hardly had any stints in any hard-grind academies, where in fact the academics is the first casualty due to heavy work load, who had only practiced on the Jalandhar Surjit Hockey Academy turfs on Sundays.
   “My mother used to take me to the Turf on Sundays because the Academy will have holiday, we can get to play on Turf”.
   Jasjit, who joined Indian Railways a couple of years ago, and posted in Jalandhar, relished any position in the midfield, and it gives elbow room for coaches insofar as his utility value is concerned.
   Tailpiece: Jasjit is a Kular, a clan which produced n-number of internationals in the 50s and 60s, which included Ajit Pal Singh and Udham Singh, a four-time Olympian. Yes, he is a Sansarpurian.
   The squad:

Goalkeepers: P.R. Sreejesh, Harjot Singh.
    Defenders: Gurbaj Singh, Rupinderpal Singh (vice-captain), V.R. Raghunath, Birendra Lakra, Kh. Kothajit Singh, Manpreet Singh.
   Midfielders: Sardar Singh (captain), S.K. Uthappa, Dharamvir Singh, Jasjit Singh, Chinglensana Singh;
   Forwards: S.V. Sunil, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Mandeep Singh.
   Standbys: Gurpreet Singh (goalkeeper), Vikram Kanth, Gurinder Singh (defenders), Danish Mujtaba, Devindar Walmiki (midfielders), Lalit Upadhyay, and Yuvraj Walmiki (forwards).

Coach almost quits...

THE national hockey squad were within a whisker of heading into the World Cup without a chief coach after an upset K. Dharmaraj decided to quit yesterday.
    Angry at being treated as an outcast and irked that repeated requests for a contract fell on deaf ears, Dharmaraj decided enough was enough.
   Surviving on a monthly allowance of RM4,000 for the last five months, Dharmaraj skipped the squad’s training session yesterday as he prepared to walk out.
   However, word reached Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and his quick action resulted in the issue being resolved yesterday evening, just 16 days before Malaysia begin their World Cup campaign.
   Even then, MHC didn’t cover itself in glory over the incident, especially as it had no one but Dharmaraj to turn to after Paul Revington quit as national coach.
   “I really don’t understand why some of my coaching staff and I were treated like outcasts. Despite repeatedly knocking on the doors of MHC, we never received any feedback on our contracts.
   “I did not even know how much my salary scale was for the past five months, and was living on a monthly allowance of RM4,000,” said an upset Dharmaraj after the issue was resolved.
   Tengku Abdullah instructed MHC treasurer Datuk N. Radhakrishnan to settle the matter.
   “After waiting for five months, I was finally called to the MHC office on Wednesday and asked to sign a contract which only increased my salary by RM2,000 from my juniors contract.
   “That was the breaking point, as I was promised many things before this but was then handed a pathetic contract to sign.
    “My wife also told me to quit, as I was being treated badly by the very officials who had promised me many things. I also wonder why when the MHC president finally found out about it, it was easily resolved,” said Dharmaraj.
    Dharmaraj, based on his achievement in guiding his charges to a fourth-placed finish in last year’s Junior World Cup, is in the running for Coach of the Year at Monday’s national sports awards.
    He has proven his mettle with the senior side as well for after having replaced Revington, he guided the team to a silver-medal finish behind Australia in the Azlan Shah Cup.
    That was followed by a bronze medal finish in the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan.
   “The issue here was not about money but I was peeved with the way they handled my case as I kept knocking and knocking my head against the MHC door, with no answer.”
    Malaysia are in Group A of the World Cup with Australia, England, Belgium, Spain and India.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Daunting task for Malaysian men..


Our attention turns to Asia, and the impact countries such as India, Malaysia, Korea, China and Japan may have upon the World Cup. Some of these countries have a long history of involvement in major tournaments, for others it is new territory. One team that has long been associated with success on hockey's world stage is India. The men's team has dominated global hockey in the past although, at the moment, that proud hockey nation is working hard to restore its national team to former glories. The team that holds the most Olympic hockey medals – eight gold, one silver and two bronze – is currently ranked eighth in the world and is going through a re-building process. Leading from the bench will be head coach Terry Walsh and head of high performance Roel Oltmann, who are both working hard to add structure and physicality to their highly-skilled team. Setting the example from the pitch will be the creative midfielder and captain Sardar Singh and the specialist drag flicker and defensive rock Rupinder Pal Singh.
Korea enter the Rabobank World Cup on the back of a triumphant return to Champions Trophy hockey via their victory at the Champions Challenge 1. The team are also the continental champions of Asia, a title that they claimed on Malaysian soil last year thanks to victory over India in the final of the Asia Cup in Ipoh. The side, coached by Shin Seok Kyo, were also in good form at the recent Sultan Azlan Shah tournament, claiming three wins, one draw and one defeat. The Korean squad is a very experienced one: only five players who played in Champions Challenge 1 had played less than 100 games for their country. In The Hague, one player to watch is 30-year-old defender Jang Jong Hyun, a veteran of three Olympic Games (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012) and a fearsome penalty corner drag flicker.

The third men's team representing the East is Malaysia, currently ranked 13th in the world and facing the daunting challenge of playing the opening match of the World Cup against the current world champions, Australia. However, Malaysia have enjoyed a successful past few weeks, beating fellow world cup competitors New Zealand at the Champions Challenge, and picking up a bronze medal in that event.
The team is coached by former Malaysian international Muhammad Dhaarma Raj, who stepped up from coaching the men’s U-21 team. The new coach has made a successful start to his reign, guiding the team to a second place finish behind Australia in the Sultan Azlan Cup. Among the skilful players emerging from the passionate hockey nation are Firhan Ashari, Malaysia’s youngest player, and Faizal Saari, a skilful attacker who regularly gets his name on the score-sheet. 

Asia is well represented on the women's side. China, Korea and Japan will all be competing in The Hague, and are ranked 7th, 8th and 9th respectively. Of the three teams, China are probably most likely to be challenging for medals, although the firepower of Park Mi Hyun could well be a decisive factor in Korea's favour.
China won a silver medal in Beijing, but results before and after that competition have been more middle of the road. In the Champions Trophy the team has finished seventh and eighth on the past two occasions, and this will be China's first appearance at the World Cup. The team's opening match is against Germany, who are ranked one place ahead of them, and a good start could see China fulfilling their huge potential and bringing home a medal.
Ranked one place below China is the Korea team. Their recent performance at the Champions Challenge in Glasgow was well below par. They entered the tournament as favourites but finished in fifth place. The side also missed out on winning the Asia Cup when they were beaten in the tournament final by lower ranked Japan last September, while an eighth place finish at the Argentina Hockey World League Final at the end of the year was certainly below expectations. All of this prompted captain Kim Jong Eun to say that following a few days rest, the squad "would be fit and raring to go at the World Cup", and they "expected to return with a medal."
The Cherry Blossoms of Japan are the lowest ranked of the women's teams from Asia, but they can never be written off as China and South Africa learnt to their cost at the 2012 Olympics. Japan open their World Cup campaign with the unenviable task of facing the home side, The Netherlands, but with influential players Miyuki Nakagawa, Keiko Manabe and Shiho Otsuka on the pitch, they will not be a side to be taken lightly. The best position achieved by Japan in previous World Cups was fifth in 2006 (Madrid), and they will be hoping to better the 11th place they achieved in 2011.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Baljit ready if re-called...

THE National hockey players were feted to a lunch by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday, as they enter the last phase of preparations for the World Cup at the Hague, Netherlands beginning May 31.
   For the record, Malaysia have qualified for the World Cup after last hosting it in 2002 in Kuala Lumpur.
   Playing in Group A, world No 13 Malaysia will open accounts against world No 1 Australia, while the other opponents are England (No 4), Belgium (No 5), Spain (No 10)  and India (No 8).
   Najib reminded the players to maintain a high standard of discipline, and team-work.
    “And don’t think too much about the rankings of the other teams in our group, what is important is to play to the coaches’ instructions,” said Najib.
    Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah was also at the function.
    Defender Baljit Singh Charun Singh, who was not selected for the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan recently, was also at the lunch with his fellow defender Razie Rahim.
    “Even though I was not selected for the Champions Challenge I kept training on my own, and am ready to play in the World Cup if the coach gives me a call-up,” said Baljit.
    In the absence of the two stalwart defenders, Baljit and Razie, Malaysia let in 17 goals and were beaten to the final by Canada.
    “I did watch the Champions Challenge on television and it was very unfortunate for my team-mates to lose in the semi-finals to Canada as I believe we were the better team.
   “And in the World Cup, we will be the lowest ranked team but I believe that everybody who is selected will give his best and make the country proud,” said Baljit who helped Malaysia finish fifth in the World League Semi-finals in Johor Baru which took Malaysia into the World Cup.
   Razie was also at the Prime Minister’s lunch, and if hen gets the all-clear from the medical side, he will be a sure bet for the World Cup as not only do Malaysia need a good defender but also a deadly penalty corner flicker.
    Malaysia will leave for the Haque on May 23, with the final 18 named a week earlier.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hard-fought bronze for Malaysia..

MALAYSIA won their first bronze medal in the Champions Challenge 1 when they beat Ireland 3-2 in Kuantan yesterday.
   For the record, the hosts only had two fourth placings to show before this which was achieved in 2001 in Kuala Lumpur and 2013 in Argentina.
   And it was also Malaysia's first ever medal in an International Hockey Federation (FIH) open tournament, as the other silver and bronze medals were won at the Azlan Shah Cup invitational and the Asian Games. Malaysia has only won gold at the Sea Games level.
    "I'm very prous of the players as they achieved a milestone in Malaysian hockey today (yesterday) but there is much work to be done in our defense as we prepare for the World Cup which is just around the corner.
   "We had our chance to play in the final but blew it against Canada, and now we will worl to finish at leat ninth (among 12 teams) in the World Cup," said Malaysian coach k. Dharmaraj.
    The coach is also looking at minimal changes to the suqad as there is no time left leading to the World Cup: "Maximum there might be two or three chances to the squad as I do not have time on my side. But after the World Cup, there might be more chances as we prepare for the Asian Games gold medal (Olympic ticket)," said Dharmaraj.
    It was another good start for Malaysia as Ahmad Kazamirul's attempt in the fifth minute hit a defenders' foot and Malaysia were awarded a penalty stroke. And Kazamirul stepped up to the spot and beat goalkeeper David Harte for the early lead.
   And  in the 11th minute,  Rashid Baharom's reverse stick shot made it 2-0, but then, the team had led Canada 2-0 and New Zealand 4-1 before collapsing and taking the match into penalty shoot outs. They beat the Kiwis 3-2 but lost the final slot to Canada.
    Both Rashid and Kazamirul scored their first goals in the last match of the tournament, and there are still three more quarters to play.
    And it happened as Paul Gleghorne scores off a penalty corner deflection to cut Malaysia''s lead in the 22nd minute, and the bronze medal was in danger of slipping through coach K. Dharmaraj's men's fingers.
   Malaysia started playing recklessly as first Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin was green carded and Gleghorne narrowed the gap, and in the 24th minute, skipper Azlan Misron was yellow carded and will sit out for at least five minutes.
    But still by the 35th minute, Malaysia had the bronze in their hands while Ireland were pushing hard looking for the equaliser.
   However, in the 43rd minute the same script was played by Malaysia as they let Ireland claw back into the match, and this time it was a sizzling shot at goal by Chris Cargo which gave Ireland the equaliser.
    Malaysia were in a fighting mood yesterday and kept pushing and were finally rewarded when in the 66th minute, skipper Azlan Misron turned striker and gave his men the lead again.
    Faizal Saari and Firhan then sprinted to the Irish goal-mouth in the 70th minute and after a 1-2 exchange, Firhan easily scored the fourth goal to confirm the bronze medal for his mates.
    RESULTS -- Final: Canada x South Korea x; Third-Fourth: Malaysia 4 Ireland 2; Fifth-Sixth: New Zealand 6 France 3; Seventh-Eighth: Japan 3 Poland 2.

Canada the better team...

MALAYSIA had the final ticket in their hands but gave it away to Canada after a 2-2 draw in regulation time and bowing out 5-4 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan, Pahang yesterday.
    After taking a 2-0 lead, they allowed Canada to claw back into the match and nail the equaliser in the 70th minute. And after five shoot-outs, the score stood at 2-2, but Canada sailed into the final on a 5-4 win after the shoot-out went into sudden-death.
   It was only one minute and 30 seconds when Fitri Saari decided to make a solo run from the 25, and win Malaysia's first penalty corner of the match, with his brother completing his move a minute later.
   Faizal Saari scored his second goal of the tournament with a low push which went crashing onto the board to beat Canadian goalkeeper Antoni Kindler for the lead.
   The Malaysian team were more composed after that early lead but missed many sitters until the 14th minute when local hero Ismail Abu found his scoring touch from an acute angle.
   Ismail, from Felda Jengka 22, also took it upon himself to dribble a fed Canadian defenders before unleashing a powerful shot from almost the sidelines, but still managed to find the small gap between the post and Kindler was beaten again.
    The match was played over four quarters of 17.5 seconds and the crowd took the many breaks in play to dance and enjoy themselves as Malaysia moved closer to the final.
   But Canada had other plans as off their first penalty corner in the 20th minute their skipper Scott Tupper scored to narrow the gap.
     And with Faiz Helmi stretchered out in the 31st minute, the fragile Malaysian defense suffered another big blow with another half remaining in the match.
   Malaysia loved dangerously after the restart, as they kept missing sitters and started to give away too many chances to the Canadian strikers, and  even missed a penalty corner in the 43rd minute, which could have sealed their spot in the final.
    Coach K. Dharmaraj's men started missing too many sitters and they paid a heavy price for it in the 59th minute when Tuppper again scored from a penalty corner attempt to make it 2-2.
    In the remaining 20 minutes, Canada were the more dangerous side but Malaysia got their chance to nail the final spot when they won a 68th minute penalty corner.
    But they bungled, and Canada won two back-to-back penalty corners in the 70th minute, but failed to score and the match went into shoot-out.
    For the second time Malaysia are in a shoot-out and they use the same players who beat New Zealand 3-2. Firhan Ashari, Faiz Helmi, Shahril Saabah, Fitri Saari and Faizal Saari were give the task to take Malaysia into the final, with S. Kumar the guardian.
    The penalty shoot out stood at 2-2 after the first round, and Canada went into the final on a 5-4 shoot-out score.
    RESULTS-- Semi-finals: Malaysia 2 Canada 2 (Canada win shoot-out 5-4); Ireland 1 South Korea 2.
    Classification -- Fifth-Eighth: New Zealand 6 Poland 1; France 3 Japan 2.
    TODAY -- Final -- Canada  v South Korea (9.30pm); Third-Fourth: Malaysia v Ireland (7.15pm); Fifth-Sixth: New Zealand v France (5pm); Seventh-Eighth: Japan v Poland (2.45pm).


Canada hurdle...

MALAYSIA will square off against Canada again in the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan today, but it will not be
the same as the Group B match where the hosts won 4-3.
   This was the consensus by both coaches K. Dharmaraj and Canadian Anthony Farry who feel it would be a
different ball game altogether.
   "Even though both teams know each other's strengths as we did play them in the Azlan Shah Cup (won 3-0) as well as in Kuantan, but I believe we cant take previous matches into account because at stake here is a spot in the final as well as a shot at the Champions Trophy ticket," said Dharmaraj.
   Malaysia played a super match against Canada, but lapses as well as a penalty stroke and yellow card to
goalkeeper S. Kumar almost saw them lose the match.
   "It was my first international yellow card and I was quite surprised with it as after the match, I watched the video
with the coach and saw that it was neither a penalty stroke or a yellow card infringement when I tackled the Canadian
forward in the group match.
   "But looking ahead, I must again be at my best tomorrow (today) because Canada does have some good strikers
and their counters are quite sharp," said Kumar.
   And in the match against New Zealand in the quarter-finals, Malaysia did take a 4-1 lead but were held 4-4 before
winning the penalty stroke 3-2.
   "It (NZ match) was a bruising encounter but my players are capable of giving their best again, and we will not take
Canada lightly as we keep our eyes firmly on playing in the final," said Dharmaraj.
   The other semi-finals will be between South Korea and Ireland, where the Irish will go in as the dark horses.
   "We have studied videos of the Malaysian matches in this tournament and I can say that the team has improved
tremendously in this tournament and beating world no 6 New Zealand was no small feat. But even though we know
what to do roughly, it will be a hard game for sure," said Farry.
   The crowd in Kuantan had been very supportive and there is non stop cheering as well as singing during
Malaysian matches.
   "The crowd has really been very supportive and I can say that we are in the semi-finals partly because of their
undying support. I call for their support again as they do motivate my players with their non-stop chanting and
support," said Dharmaraj.
    However, the Canadians also enjoy the crowd: "There has been super support form the crowd during the
Malaysian matches and it also works for us as we like the atmosphere," said Farry who will only miss Sukhi
Panesar who was red carded in their bruising quarter-finals where they edged Poland 3-2.
    TODAY -- Semi-finals: Malaysia v Canada (7.15pm); Ireland v South Korea (9.30pm).
    Classification -- Fifth-Eighth: New Zealand v Poland (2.45pm); France v Japan (5pm).

Kiwis beaten..

MALAYSIA beat world No 6 New Zealand 3-2 in the penalty shoot-out after a nail-biting 70 minutes which saw eight goals flying in the quarter-finals of the Champions Challenge I at the Kuantan Stadium yesterday.
   It was May-Day celebrations which almost turned into a Mayday distress signal when coach K. Dharmaraj's men played dramatic hockey as after being 0-1 down by the third minute, they took a 4-1 lead before collapsing and ending up with a 4-4 draw in regulation time.
    The hard fought win will now see world No 13 Malaysia play No 16 Canada in the semi-finals tomorrow. Canada beat Poland 3-2 in the other quarter-finals. For the record Malaysia beat Canada 4-3 in Group B.
   "It was a heart-stopping match because we let in three goals after taking a big lead and my personal feeling was one of agony as I had suffered disappointment in penalty shoot out when we lost to France in the Junior World Cup semi-finals.
   "And it was a Oh No! feeling when the shoot out was being taken as we were down 2-0 but eventually won 3-2 with great saves from the goalkeeper (S. Kumar)," said Dharmaraj.
   New Zealand coach Colin Batch was obviously disapointed: "Malaysia were on an upward trend after beating Canada (Tuesday) and were obviously at their best today (yesterday). We let in early goals, but there was a great comeback only to lose out in the penalties.
    Steve Edwars tapped in from close range to give the Kiwis an early fourth minute lead, but a super fight-back saw skipper Azlan Misron leading by example to score in the 20th minute while three more were from the efforts of Shahril Saabah (23rd, 31st) and Fitri Saari (24th).
    New Zealand clawed back with a hat-trick of penalty corners from Andy Hayward in the 45th, 60th and 70th minutes.
    In the penalty shoot-out, Faiz Jali and Faizal Saari missed and the Kiwis were leading 2-0 at that point before S. Kumar brought out three saves while Firhan Ashaari, Shahril Saabah and Fitri Saari were on target to hand Malaysia the hard-fought win.
   "We did train for the penalty shooot-out as we know that playing the tournament favourites was never going to be easy and we wanted to be prepared for any eventually.
    "We watched how the Kiwis handled penalty shoot out in previous matches and it paid of as now we are one step closer to our target of playing in the final," said Dharmaraj.
    Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah watched the match and said: "They should have won in regulation time when leading 4-1, but never mind, as I'm proud of their fighting spirit and they never gave up."