Tuesday, October 25, 2016

SOJC: 'Unfriendly' Australia...

AUSTRALIA continue their good relations with Malaysia at the Sultan of Johor Cup (SOJC) in Johor Bahru next week, but the hosts can expect nothing friendly about their visit this time around.
  The Burras kick-off their campaign against Japan at Taman Daya Stadium on Oct 31 with a squad set for the upcoming Junior World Cup in India just one month later.
   Australia, who finished a dismal fifth in last year's SOJC, missed the Junior World Cup podium in 2013 and having never finished outside the top three in back-to-back editions, the pressure is on Ben Bishop's men.
   “As always, it was a difficult task to select this group. Our broader junior program has developed very good depth as a result of the great work done around our network," said in a recent interview in Australia.
  “The group we have selected will enjoy another great competition in Johor this year against some quality international teams.
  “This year, the SOJC presents a further opportunity for us as our major competition focus in the lead up to the Junior World Cup. I look forward to seeing our Burras take another step up in their development in readiness for the Junior World Cup.”
  Bishop will want to avoid repeating their 2015 outing, where Australia only manage to defeat Pakistan.
  Australia lost to Argentina on the opening day before bouncing back with a 6-2 win over Pakistan, only to lose 3-2 to hosts Malaysia in the following match. Australia also drew 4-4 with Great Britain and lost 1-0 to India before disposing Pakistan 5-0 to avoid finishing with the wooden spoon.
  Australia have a largely unchanged side from last year. Among the 20 players selected are Rio Olympian Blake Govers and fellow Kookaburra Tom Craig. Kiran Arunasalam from the national development squad is also included while the rest are from the national juniors.
  With a talent pool so wide, the players are unlikely to take the SOJC lightly as places for the trip to Lucknow, India are up for grabs.

Lessons from Cikgu Shukri...

CIKGU Shukri Mutalib has set his mind to lead Malaysia into another promising battle against India on Wednesday in the Asian Champions Trophy at the Kuantan Hockey Stadium.
  A teacher by profession, the national hockey skipper and his men have so far scored three 'As' by beating Pakistan 4-2, China 5-1 and Japan 7-2 to check into the semi-finals.
  With two more matches in hand, which could turn out to be the most difficult, Shukri is confident he can lead his men to victories.
  "We still have to face India and then South Korea to complete our pool matches and I believe my team-mates can overcome whatever obstacles that come their way," said Shukri.
  Interestingly, Shukri treats his mates as 'students' when it comes to handling them on the pitch.
  "I am used to handling a large number of students with many more issues and problems in school. In hockey I only have 17 players to take charge and it is much easier as they are a disciplined lot."
  Even though Malaysia have scored a total of 16 goals in three matches, but they have also let in five silly goals and look especially vulnerable in the last five minutes of every match.
  "Against Japan, we were leading 7-0 and I felt that it was a moment to utilise my substitutes and I replaced goalkeeper S. Kumar and all the first choice defenders and fielded my reserves.
  "Well, it was a good chance to give them some match practice ahead of the India and Korea matches. Even though it resulted in two goals in two minutes, I believe we have a strong bench to rely upon," insisted coach Stephen van Huizen.
  Just like planning for lessons and motivating his students in class, Shukri has also been encouraging his mates, and parting information he picks up from watching other teams play.
  "The most encouraging sign in this present team is that all the players are not selfish, especially the strikers. They are playing for the glory of Malaysia and not self pride. This can be seen in the passing done in the semi-circle, before goals are scored.
  "One example is the three passes that led to Fazal Shaari blasting the ball to the top of the Japan net. It took real good understanding and unselfishness to achieve that goal.
  Things are looking up for Malaysia, and now they must play two more pool to make the country proud, by finishing tops in the pool and play the fourth-placed team in the semi-finals.
  RESULTS: South Korea 5 China 3.
  TUESDAY: Pakistan v Japan (6.30pm), India v China (8.30pm).
  WEDNESDAY: South Korea v Japan (6.30pm), Malaysia v India (8.30pm).


         P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
MALAYSIA 3  3  0  0  16 5  9
INDIA    3  2  1  0  14 5  7
S. KOREA 3  1  1  1  6  5  4
PAKISTAN 3  1  0  2  5  7  3
CHINA    3  1  0  2  6  11 3
JAPAN    3  0  0  3  5  19 0