Saturday, October 31, 2015

U14: Kelantan beat KL 2-1

KELANTAN boys beat Kuala Lumpur 2-1 in the National Under-14 hockey tournament in Malacca Saturday.
  Kelantan's Asrulhisyam Abdullah Pakri scored a field goal in the 25th minute and Muhammad Syahmi increased the lead with another field attempt in the 32nd minute.
  Zulhafizi Aiman scored in the 44th minute to narrow the socore, but Kelantan held on for three points.
  Sunday, boys defending champions Pahang will play against Johor, while the girls gold medallists Sabah will open accounts against Selangor.
  RESULTS -- BOYS': Group A: Perak 1 Johor 0, Kedah 1 Terengganu 3; Group B: Kelantan 2 Kuala Lumpur 1, Selangor 4 Negri Sembilan 3; Sabah 7 Singapore 0, Malacca 3 Perlis 2.
  GIRLS': Group B: Johor 6 Terenggnau 0, Negri 0 Penang 2.
  SUNDAY: BOYS': Group A: Johor v Pahang (MBMB Pitch I, 4.45pm), Perak v Kedah (MBMB Pitch I, 8.15pm); Group B: Negri v Penang (MBMB Pitch I, 3pm), Selangor v Kelantan (MBMB Pitch II, 3pm); Group C: Perlis v Sabah (MBMB Pitch II, 4.45pm), Malacca v Singapore (MBMB Pitch I, 6.30pm).
  GIRLS': Group A: Perak v Kedah (STM, 7.30am), Sabah v Selangor (MBMB Pitch II, 9.15am); Group B: Terengganu v K Lumpur (MBMB Pitch I, 7.30am), Johor v Negri, (MBMB Picth II, 7.30am); Group C: Perlis v Singapore (STM, 9.15am), Malacca v Pahang (MBMB Pitch I, 9.15am); 
  Note: All matches in Malacca.

Friday, October 30, 2015

U14: No clear favourites

THE Boys' and Girls' National Under-14 hockey tournament will start Saturday at the Malacca Stadium, with no clear favourites.
  For the record, Pahang are the boys champions, while Sabah won the girls title last year. Singapore will make their debut in both the categories.
  SATURDAY -- BOYS': Group A: Perak v Johor (3pm, Pitch I), Kedah v Terengganu (3pm, Pitch II); Group B: Kelantan v Kuala Lumpur (4.45pm, Pitch I), Selangor v Negri Sembilan (4.45pm, Pitch II); Sabah v Singapore (6.30pm, Pitch I), Malacca v Perlis (8.15pm, Pitch I).
  GIRLS': Group B: Johor v Terenggnau (7.30am, Pitch I), Negri v Penang (7.30am, Pitch II).
  Note: All matches at Malacca Stadium.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

MHC: We love our women, too


To all hockey enthusiasts, fans and members of the distinguished hockey community,
  We have just concluded Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) and Despite several setbacks and challenges, the general response received was positive.
  In spite of the extremely short preparatory period, the 
Competitions Committee along with hockey's stakeholders and 
administrators have delivered a truly exciting and well-received 
tournament. For this we congratulate everyone.
  The MHL has unearthed several talents. Two of which are 
Kirendeep Kaur - a 12-year-old girl who scored two goals in the League and J. Priyangga, a 17-year-old goalkeeper which we nominated as the Best Goalkeeper of the women's MHL.
  The coaching setup is well aware of these players and will 
feature them in our development and elite programmes. We advocate talent identification and will do our utmost to present the best possible avenue for any player to showcase their ability.
  One such case is having Kavin Kartik - a player who is not in the official men's senior training squad list - attend and undergo the ongoing training programme.
  This is merely to see if he has the required ability, tenacity and mindset to one day don the national colours.   Just like how we provide everyone with the desire and required skill level a chance at one day playing for the country, we plead for you to give us the same in matters concerning the governance of hockey.
  This is a stepping stone for the development of hockey. Come 
mid-November 2015, we will be in our 6th month of administration. We believe we are headed in the right direction. Our sponsors and stakeholders are confident that our approach, although not necessarily popular, is accurate.
  We are single-minded in our pursuit for progress. However, our focus is not entirely on Men's hockey. Our Blue Print, recently launched at the National Sports Council and witnessed by all key stakeholders and numerous representatives from the media, indicates our desire to raise the profile of the game, both for men's and women's hockey. We treat everyone equally.
   Our recent MOU with Hockey Australia is also centered around the 
development of women's hockey. Australia, in my many conversations with their extremely capable CEO, Cam Vale, is as confident as we are that our women players can one day become world beaters. Hence, the equal emphasis for exposure and development to both genders.
  In our blue print, we have stipulated the key goals for our women's and men's team at every perceivable milestone. The targets/goals as below:

1 2016 - Junior World Cup, India (Top 8 Finish) - Men
2 2017 - To qualify for the 2018 World Cup - Men and Women
3 2018 - India World Cup (Top 10 Finish) - Men
- Asian Games (Podium Finish) - Men
- Asian Games (Semi-finalists) - Women
4 2019 - To qualify for Tokyo Olympics - Men
- To qualify for World League Round 3 - Women
- To qualify for 2020 JWC - Men
- 2019 Junior Asia Cup (Semi-finalists) - Women
5 2020 - Tokyo Olympics (Top 8 Finish) - Men
- Men's Ranking - Top 10
- Women's Ranking - Top 16
- Junior Men to finish Top 6 in JWC

  Specific to Women's hockey, MHC Technical Director Terry Walsh is working closely with head coach Nasihin Nubli, to develop a long-term training programme which will look at improving key areas that require urgent attention. 
  These specific areas include physiological development, tactical 
awareness and skill acquisition. The programme is designed to 
accommodate key requirements that will form the foundation of our impending progress.
  We are already in talks with Hockey Australia and several other key hockey nations to amalgamate our calendars and 2016 will see our programmes kick-off with the required structure and purpose.   Sustainable plans must be implemented to ensure desired results are obtained.
  We will neither stand behind nor support any short term plan with unclear goals. We will also not place goals which are clearly unattainable. Our key focus is sustainable growth and progress.
  MHC is committed in ensuring that hockey in its entirety will develop. 
  Our way may not provide the desired results instantaneously, but with positive support coming from all stakeholders, we will get there.
  We thank you once again for all your support, critical or otherwise. 
Only through your passion and belief, will we one day return amongst the upper echelon of world hockey.

K. Logan Raj

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Women receive blind look from MHC

 Priyangga Jayarajah
PIC: Kirendeep Kaur Gurdip Singh (with trophy) at the USM Sixes 2014

By Jugjet Singh


A TWELVE-YEAR-OLD scored two goals in the women's Malaysia Hockey League, and a 17-year-old was named as the Best Goalkeeper.
  But for both these players who competed in an Open tournament, the future looks gloomy as the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) have no plans, or blueprints, or even a clue, on what to do with the women's section of the sport.
  Meet 12-year-old Kirendeep Kaur Gurdip Singh, who scored two out of the nine total The Cops scored to finish third among five teams in Group A.
  Take a bow Priyangga Jayarajah, 17, for being voted as the Best Goalkeeper playing for silver medallists SSTMI Thunderbolts.
  While the MHC recently unveiled a five-year blueprint for the men to qualify for the Olympics and World Cup, there is only Sound of Silence when asked what plans they have for the women.
  There was promise, solid basics, and good fitness in the three teams who ended up with medals in the MHL, but gold medallists Sports Excellence Centre (PKS-KPM), silver medallists SSTMI Thunderbolts and bronze medallists ATM Pernama have nothing to look forward to other than to savour their brief moment under the spotlight.
  Even though all three teams shared the entire national women's players among them, they were given a good fight by the other also rans -- like The Cops coached by former international Kelvinder Singh.
  The men have played in the Champions Trophy, World Cups and Olympics, while the women have only seen action in the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Sea Games.
  Even the Junior World Cup has eluded them, and their glory is etched in bronze.
  In the history book is their bronze achieved at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, followed by an encore in the 1985 Asia Cup in Seoul.
  In recent memory, the women were invited to play in their first Asian Champions Trophy in 2013, in Kakamigahara, Japan, when South Korea withdrew.
  The wild card went on to win a bronze by beating women's powerhouse and then world no 7 China 1-0 in the pool, and 3-1 in the third-fourth placing.
  Malaysia were ranked 22, and China 7.
  But there was not concerted effort to elevate their standard, no foreign coach hired, and even current coach Nasihin Nubli is always unsure of where he stands, or when his contract is going to be terminated abruptly.
  And there was no mention of the ladies in the MHC blueprint, and even the Raja Noora Ashikin Cup was not held.
  There are plenty of good players, from 12 to 17, who just competed in the women's MHL Group A and Group B fixtures -- and it would be a waste if the MHC casts a blind look towards their direction, while giving their full love and attention to the men.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

PKS-KPM in dream debut

By Jugjet Singh

SPORTS Excellence Centre (PKS-KPM) lifted the Malaysian Hockey League women's title when they edged SSTMI Thunderbolts 1-0 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
  It was a dream debut for PKS-KPM, as they held onto the early goal to deny a fighting Thunderbolts.
  In a balanced first half, PKS-KPM took a slim lead when they perfected a penalty corner in the fifth minute.
  Raja Norsharina scored only her second goal of the tournament, off a penalty corener rebound, to give her mates a slight edge over Thunderbolts.
  After a much needed breather, as the haze was really choking at Bukit Jalil, the game slowed down and the score stood till the end.
  PKS-KPM coach Izzwan Salleh was delighted with the win, as his team made their debut in the MHL this season.
  "I can't ask for more from my girls as they won in their debut, but the final was not as easy as the other two encounters in the group stages," said Izzwan.
  In the group, PKS-KPM beat Thunderbolts 3-1 and 4-0.
  "We have six national players, including No 1 goalkeeper Farah Ayuni to thank for this victory, as they played leading roles in the entire tournament.
  "Our funding is from UniKL (Universiti Kuala Lumpur) and I believe we will be fielding a stronger team next season," said Izzwan.
  The Third-Fourth match was abandoned as Penang Juniors could not travel because many of their players were preparing for major examinations, and the bronze went to ATM Pernama.
  RESULTS: Final -- Sports Excellence Centre (PKS-KPM) 1 SSTMI Thunderbolts 0.
  ROLL-of-HONOUR: Fairplay: ATM Pernama (RM1,000); Best Player of Final: Raja Norsharina (PKS-KPM, RM500); Best Goalkeeper of Final: J. Priyangga  (Thunderbolts, RM500); Top Scorer: Fatin Naimah (PKS-KPM, RM500); Player of the Tournament: Nuraliana Ali (PKS-KPM, RM500). 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Penang Juniors give walk over

PENANG Juniors gave a walk over to ATM Pernama in the Malaysia Hockey League women's third-fourth placing match scheduled for Saturday at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
  Penang, who lost 7-3 to ATM in the group stage, cited examinations as an excuse.
  The match was earlier postponed due to haze on Oct 3, and the new date clashes with examination preparations.
  "The Penang Juniors and ATM Pernama match will not be held, as most of the Penang players are students who are preparing for major examinations.
  "The bronze will be awarded to ATM Pernama. However, the final between SSTMI Thunderbolts and PKS-KPM will go ahead as scheduled at 6pm Saturday," said Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competitions secretary Hashim Yusoff.
  In the group stages PKS KPM, led by national players and league top-scorers Fatin Naimah (nine goals) and Nuraini Rashid (eight goals) beat Thunderbolts 3-1.
  SATURDAY: Final: SSTMI Thunderbolts v PKS-KPM (6pm, National Hockey Stadium, Pitch II ).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Women's MHL final Saturday

THE postponed women's Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) final has been scheduled for Saturday, but haze might derail it again.
  While the men completed their fixtures on schedule, the women's tournament was first shelved for 10 days to allow players to compete in the Junior Asia Cup in China from Sept 5-13.
  Then, the haze Air Pollutant Index reading in Bukit Jalil was 279.17 on Oct 3, and the final and bronze match had to be cancelled.
  Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competitions secretary Hashim Yusoff is keeping his fingers crossed that Saturday will be a sunny day.
  "After four days of bad weather, today (THURSDAY) was much better and hopefully it rains or the wind shifts direction and the final and third-fourth matches can be completed," said Hashim.
  SSTMI Thunderbolts and PKS-KPM will play in the final while, ATM Pernama and Penang Juniors for the bronze.
  Both the finalists are form Group B, while the placing match will be between Group A teams.
  In the group stages, PKS KPM beat Thunderbolts 3-1, while ATM hammered Penang 7-3.
  The aces in PKS KPM are league top-scorer Fatin Naimah, nine goals, and Nuraini Rashid with eight goals -- both are national senior players.
  And the players to watch in Thunderbolts are Hanis Nadiah and Nurul Safiqah who each have scored four goals for their team.
  SATURDAY: Final: SSTMI Thunderbolts v PKS-KPM (6pm); Third-Fourth: ATM Pernama v Penang Juniors (4pm).

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Britain SOJC champs

BRITAIN held India to a 2-2 draw and took them to a penalty shoot-out, for a 4-3, win to lift their maiden Sultan of Johor Cup title at the Taman Daya Stadium yesterday.
  It was a thrilling final, watched by about 6,000 fans, as Britain dug deep to deny India their third SOJC title.
  Britain started with a bang, only to be denied the lead as India came back strongly to equalise.
  Luke Taylor fired a rocket of a penalty corner in the fifth minute to take his tournament tally to 10 goals, but Harmanpreet Singh equalised also off a penalty corner in the 12th minute for his fourth SOJC goal.
  Gurjant Singh gave India the lead in the 42nd minute off a field attempt, but Jack Turner scored his first SOJC goal in the 46th to level accounts again to take the match to a penalty shoot-out.
  Meanwhile, SOJC organising chairman Manjit Majid Abdullah said after the success of hosting five editions, the Taman Daya Stadium will undergo a face-lift.
  "This is fast becoming the most sought after junior invitational tournament in the world and after hosting five editions, we will increase the seating of the Taman Daya Stadium from 3,000 to 6,000 next year.
  "And even though Pakistan have finished poorly in the last two editions (sixth both times) we will still invite them for the next edition to help the Asian country develop their youth," said Manjit.
  India and Britain are the other crowd favourites and will surely be included in the Sixth Edition, which will be held one month before the New Delhi World Cup to help Malaysia, hot favourites to qualify from the Junior Asia Cup, prepare for the JWC.
  ROLL-of-HONOUR: Fairplay: Australia; Top-scorer: Luke Taylor, Britain (10 goals); Best-Goalkeeper: Chris Wyver (Britain); Player of the Tournament: Harjeet Singh (India).

SOJC: Bronze for Malaysia

MALAYSIA snatched the bronze from the jaws of a gritty Argentina when they beat them 3-2 in the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Stadium yesterday.
  The hosts won a total of five penalty corners and scored three, while Argentina failed to convert even a single out of the six they won.
  "The last game of a tournament is always crucial for any team, and I am very satisfied with how my players performed to win the bronze.
  "I am a coach who likes to push my players to the limit and finally, I think they broke the glass ceiling above their heads and that's why they performed exceptionally today (yesterday)," said Malaysian coach Arul Selvaraj.
  The only casualty of the tournament was Meor Azuan, who tore a hamstring 20 leading to the Junior Asia Cup.
  "As for the SOJ, it is the only invitational tournament in the world that offers juniors a chance to grow into men. The Malaysian team is grateful to the organisers who did a wonderful job yet again," said Arul.
  Under hazy conditions, Malaysia gave a good account of themselve in 35 minutes of play as they took a 2-1 lead into the breather.
  Malaysian on a total of three penalty corners, and Shahril Saabah scored his eight goal of the tournament in the seventh minute.
  But Argentina equalsied three minutes later when Santiago Tarazona broke free and nailed a field attempt.
  There was another controlled display from Malaysia after the equaliser, and they won their second penalty coener in the 17th minute and this time, Najmi Jazlan stepped up and scored his third goal of the SOJC.
  With a slim 2-1 lead, Malaysia trooped into the dressing room for a 10-minute 'chat' with coach Arul Selvaraj.
  The break brought our a refreshed Malaysia, and in the 41st minute, off their fourth penalty corner, Najmi perfected a drive which almost tore the netting and Malaysia took a comfortable 3-1 lead with plenty of playing time left.
  Argentina kept their fire burning, when a mistrap from defender Zulpidaus Mizun in the 52nd minute saw the ball rise above the head of Argentine Nicolas Keenan who raised his stick and slammed the ball in for 2-3.
  Malaysia went into trouble mode after that, as two players were sent to the sin-bin, reducing the numbers. Firdaus Omar was green carded in the 54th, while skipper Najib Hassan yellow carded in the 55th.
  But they kept their cool, and even defended three back-to-back penalty corners to stop the bronze from travelling to Argentina.
   RESULTS: Fifth-Sixth: Pakistan 0 Australia 5; Third-Fourth: Malaysia 3 Argentina 2; Final: India x Britain x.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

SOJC: Now to keep bronze in Malaysia

MALAYSIA beat Pakistan 3-1 to book a date with Argentina in the third-fourth playoff of the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Stadium Saturday.
  In the pool match, Malaysia and Argentina drew 2-2, but the bronze battle is expected to be tougher.
  India and Britain will play for the Fifth Edition gold.
  "This is the kind of commitment I am looking from my players in no only the remaining match against Argentina, but also in the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan.
  "My boys took an early lead, and played well to defend it even though Pakistan placed them under tremendous pressure. Of course, we will be going for the bronze medal now, and Argentina are not invincible if we play our game," said Malaysian coach Arul Selvaraj.
  Malaysia scored two quick goals inside eight minutes to take a firm grip of the situation, and remained cool in the entire first half to deny Pakistan a comeback.
  Off the three penalty corners won in the first half, Shahril Saabah scored the first in the fourth, missed the second, and Najmi Jazlan tucked in the third penalty corner in the seventh minute.
  With a good lead, Malaysia toyed around with Pakistan and only relied on counter attacks, but could not increase the lead.
  Pakistan were the better team after the 10 minute break, but good goalkeeping from Ridzwan Azmi kept the score in favour of Malaysia.
  Shahril scored his seventh goal of the tournament to hand Malaysia a handsome lead, with a reverse stick attempt in the 62nd minute and Pakistan were doomed to play for the fifth-sixth against Australia.
  Pakistan scored their consolation in the 68th off Abu Mahmood, but time ran out on them. A final minute shoving and pushing saw Shahril and Pakistan goalkeeper Muhammad Khalid flashed the yellow card -- but it made no difference to the scoreline.
  India will play Britain in a repeat final, and a chance to lift a hat-trick of SOJC titles.
  Yesterday, Britain beat Argentina 3-0 while India beat Australia 1-0 in their final pool matches.
  In the final last year, the score was tied at 1-1 before India scored 45 seconds from time to lift their second title.
  "It will be a well contested final, as both teams are at their best right now. Britain has good structure, and my players must think out of the box to win," said India coach Harendra Singh.
  In the pool, India lost 3-4 to Britain.
  RESULTS: Argentina 0 Britain 3, Australia 0 India 1, Malaysia 3 Pakistan 1.
   TODAY: Fifth-Sixth: Pakistan v Australia (3.05pm); Third-Fourth: Malaysia v Argentina (5.35pm); Final: India v Britain (8.35pm).

               P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
INDIA          5  4  0  1  14 8  12
BRITAIN        5  3  2  0  15 9  11
MALAYSIA       5  2  1  2  11 11 7
ARGENTINA      5  2  1  2  8  9  7
AUSTRALIA      5  1  1  3  12 11 4
PAKISTAN       5  0  1  4  5  17 1 

SOJC: Good tournament for Malaysia

INDIA coach Harendra Singh walked into the Press Conference after beating Malaysia 2-1 in the Sultan of Johor Cup and surprised the gallery when he congratulated Malaysia for their fighting spirit.
  "First of all, congratulations to Malaysia for giving us such a good fight. It was a close game and penalty corners won us the match," said Harendra.
 Back-to-back SOJC champions India are on course for their hat-trick of titles, but not before Malaysia gave them a fight of their lives.
  Even though Malaysia will not be playing in the final of the SOJC, but fighting with Pakistan for the third-fourth classification spot, coach Arul Selvaraj's charges have shown tremendous progress in just four matches.
  Starting with a 4-2 defeat in the hands of Britain, Malaysia's graph went upwards when they held Argentina 2-2 and then beat Australia 3-2.
  Against India, the only mistake Malaysia made were to give away too many penatly corners, and were punished by two goals from Harmanpreet Singh.
  It were the first two goals of the tournament for Harmanpreet, whose penalty corners were not effective in the earlier matches.
  Comparatively, Shahril Saabah scored his fifth penalty corner goal against India and is second on the top-scorers list.
  Malaysia and India are in Group A of the Junior Asia Cup, where the semi-finalists are assured of a spot in the New Delhi Junior World Cup next year.
   The other teams in Group A are Japan and China. The teams in Group B are Pakistan, South Korea, Oman and Bangladesh.
   "We are in the same group as India in the Junior Asia Cup so this match was very important for our players to get a feel before the cruncher in Kuantan," said Malaysian coach Arul Selvaraj.
  The Asia Cup format is in line with the International Hockey Federation (FIH), where all eight teams will play in the quarter-finals, and one win here will place the team in the Junior World Cup.
  Thats why the match aganst Pakistan today, our possible cross-over opponents in Kuantan, is not just another fixture to complete.
  "We will have two missions in the match against Pakistan. First is to to beat them and hopefull play in the third-fourth classification. And secondly, size them up for the Junior Asia Cup," said Arul.
  Pakistan's only fabulous run in this tournament was 0-0 draw with Britain.
  However, Arul must keeep his fingers crossed that India beat Australia in the earlier match, and only then will the door open for Malaysia as Australia have a better goal-average.
  But if the equations go wrong today, Arul can still take comfort in playing Pakistan twice, in the fifth-sixth classification -- for two 'friendlies' before the Junior World Cup qualifier.    
 SATURDAY: Argentina v Britain (4.35pm), Australia v India (6.3pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (8.35pm).


               P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
INDIA          4  3  0  1  13 8  9
BRITAIN        4  2  2  0  12 9  8
ARGENTINA      4  2  1  1  8  6  7
AUSTRALIA      4  1  1  2  12 10 4
MALAYSIA       4  1  1  2  8  10 4
PAKISTAN       4  0  1  3  4  14 1

Thursday, October 15, 2015

India edge Malaysia 2-1 for final slot

INDIA qualified for the final of the Sultan of Johor Cup when they edged Malaysia 2-1 at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru Thursday.
  With nine points, India are assured of a top-two finish and a chance to defend their title.  Argentina and Britain, who square off today, might decide the other finalists.
  Malaysia must now beat Pakistan on Saturday if they want to play in the bronze playoff.
  "We had the chances to finish off this game, but could not perfect our finishing. Also we gave away too many penalty corers and we can't afford this in the Junior Asia Cup," said Malaysian coach Arul Selvaraj.
  India are in Malaysia's group in the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan next month, which offers the semi-finalists a chance to play in the New Delhi World Cup next year.
  "We had a good look at India today (yesterday) and this will be an invaluable experience when we play them again in Kuantan," said Arul.
  Malaysia held India at arms length in the first half, as there was almost perfect stopping and passing, and the only thing lacking was shots at goal.
  India won two penalty corners, early in the match, but good running and an alert goalkeeper Ridzwan Azmi denied them an early lead.
  As the Malaysian boys trooped into the dressing room, the capacity crowd gave them a rousing cheer for winning the fitness and sprints part of the match.
  Mistakes crept into the Malaysian game in the second half, as the defenders gave away easy penalty corners to put pressure on themselves.
  A total of eight penalty corners were given away, and Harmanpreet Singh scored in the 41st and 56th for a comfortable lead.
  Malaysia put up a fight in the last five minutes, and Shahril Saabah scored his fifth penalty corner goal of the tournament for a 1-2 ending.
  In another match, it was heart-break for Britain as they were denied a spot in the final when Australia equalised in the final minutes to hold them to a 4-4 draw.
  The score was 4-3 in favour of Britain, and there was only two minutes remaining on the clock when Australia removed their goalkeeper and brought in a kicking back.
  The move worked as they won a penalty corner, and Andrew Scanlon nailed the equaliser by placing the ball between goalkeeper Ashleigh Thomas' pads.
   Britain got their goals off Jack Clee (8th), Luke Taylor (27th, 35th) and Jack Waller (67th). The Australian goals were scored by Ryan Proctor (31st), Frazer Gerrard (55th), Stephen Gale (65th) and Scanlon (70th).
 RESULTS: Pakistan 1 Argentina 3, Britain 4 Australia 4, India 2 Malaysia 1.
  SATURDAY: Argentina v Britain (4.35pm), Australia v India (6.3pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (8.35pm).


               P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
INDIA          4  3  0  1  13 8  9
BRITAIN        4  2  2  0  12 9  8
ARGENTINA      4  2  1  1  8  6  7
AUSTRALIA      4  1  1  2  12 10 4
MALAYSIA       4  1  1  2  8  10 4
PAKISTAN       4  0  1  3  4  14 1

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Famous win for Malaysia

MALAYSIA played like men possessed to beat Australia 3-2 in the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru yesterday.
  Australia won 10 penalty corners and tried every trick in the book, even removing their goalkeeper and relaying on a kicking back four minutes to end, but Malaysia held on for this famous victory.
  Playing in-front of a capacity crowd, standing and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, Malaysia took the match to the Australian circle and scored off their first penalty corner of the match in the fifth minute.
  Shahril Saabah, who has experience playing with the senior team, almost tore the netting with a powerful drive.
  Malaysia mounted a series of attacks after that, but failed to increase the lead. Australia won seven penalty corners in the first half, but failed all while Malaysia trooped into the dressing room with 100 per cent penalty corner conversion.
  And it was a dream start in the second half, as Norsyafiq Sumantri pounced on a rebound to claim Malaysia's second goal in the 38th minute.
  But Australia finally got penalty corner number eight right in the 43rd minute when Frazer Gerrard beat goalkeeper Ridzwan Azmi with a low drive.
  Australia started to play robust hockey after that, and two players were yellow carded. Malaysia pinned them in the semi-circle and won their second penalty corner in the 55th, and Najmi Jazlan's low drive made it 3-1.
  Max Hendry made it 2-3 in the 63rd minute, and with four minutes left on the clock, Australia took out goalkeeper Matthew Finn and relied on a kicking back but there was no denying Malaysia their glorious win.
  Man-of-the Match went to goalkeeper Ridzwan Azmi, who had two earlier bad games, but was on fire against the Aussies.
  The next two matches are vital for Malaysia, as they meet Junior Asia Cup opponents India today and Pakistan on Saturday.
  Coach Arul Selvaraj's charges must show that they can beat, or match, both the teams heading into the Junior World Cup qualifier in Kuantan next month.
  "We are indebted go the fans who came out in force and believed in us. Today's (yesterday's) game was on how to maintain a hold after taking a lead, and also ingraine a winning mentality in the team," said Arul.
  As for India, our next opponents: "We need to check on our anger in the next two games as we received two yellow and three green cards and men were out at crucial momenents.
  "India are in the same pool with us in the Junior Asia Cup, while we might meet Pakistan in the crossover so both the matches are actually the most important 'assignments' in the SOJC."
  Defending champions India were made to sweat buckets before they overcame a stubborn Argentina. The India goals were scored by Armaan Quereshi (third), Gurjant Singh (11th) and Nilakanta Sharma (50th). Argentina got their goals off Maico Casella (39th) and Nicolas Keenan (54th).
  Pakistan played their best game of the tournament, yet, to hold table toppers Australia to a 0-0 draw.
  RESULTS: Britain 0 Pakistan 0, Argentina 2 India 3, Mlaysia 3 Australia 2.
   TODAY: Pakistan v Argentina (4.35pm), Britain v Australia (6.35pm), India v Malaysia (8.35pm).


               P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
BRITAIN        3  2  1  0  8  5  7
INDIA          3  2  0  1  11 7  6
ARGENTINA      3  1  1  1  5  5  4
MALAYSIA       3  1  1  1  7  8  4
AUSTRALIA      3  1  0  2  8  6  3
PAKISTAN       3  0  1  2  3  11 1

Monday, October 12, 2015

Malaysia hold Argentina 2-2

IT WAS a penalty corner contest, when Malaysia stole a point off Argentina in a hard-fought 2-2 draw in the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru yesterday.
  After losing 2-4 to Britain on Sunday, Malaysia were more composed as Shahril Saabah scored a penalty corner brace, while Tomas Domene replied the favour for the first draw of the tournament.
  "Credit is due to all my players who bounced back after losing to Britain," said coach Arul Selvaraj.
  After a day's break, Malaysia play Australia: "The break is a welcome relief after we played two back-to-back tough matches. It will be used to motivate my players for another good performance against Australia," said Arul.
  Australian coach Ben Bishop said his boys are looking forward to the Malaysian match.
  "Malaysia are a hard-working side and we expect them to give us a tough time. Backed by a very vocal crowd, I believe it is going to be a very challenging time for us," said Bishop.
  Malaysia were a more composed side as they pinned Argentina for long periods and kept winning penalty corers. And this time, Shahril Saabah did not disappoint his fans.
  Shahril gave Malaysia the lead off a sixth minute penalty corner, but Argentina equalised also off a penalty corner when Tomas Domene scored in the 26th minute.
  Shahril, who played with the senior side in the World League Semi-finals in Belgium, re-took the lead in the 31st minute and Malaysia walked into the dressing room with a slim lead.
  The natinal juniors were in their element in the second half, but bungled too many chances and Domene punished them with a penalty corner attempt in the 61st minute.
  In another match, Silver medallists Britain edged gold medallists India 4-3 in a pulsating match, with Luke Taylor taking the starring role again.
  Taylor, who hit a hat-trick against Malaysia, scored a brace with the second match-winner coming two minutes from time.
  The Britain goals were scored by James Simpson (ninth), Luke Taylor (30th, 68th) and Jack Clee (47th). India's goals were scored by Sumit Kumar (17th, 26th), Manpreet Singh (29th).
  Australia bounced back in style when they hammered Pakistan 6-2, after losing their opening match 1-0 to Argentina.
  The Australian goals were scored by Andrew Scanlon (8th, 12th), Hayden Beltz (27th), Jack Welch (63rd) and Max Hendry (29th, 69th). 
  Pakistan got their goals off Ali Mubashar in the 31st and 41st minutes.
  RESULTS: Australia 6 Pakistan 2, Britain 4 India 3, Malaysia 2 Argentina 2.
  TOMORROW: Britain v Pakistan (4.35pm), Argentina v India (6.3pm), Malaysia v Australia (8.35pm).

                           P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
BRITAIN            2  2  0  0  8  5  6
ARGENTINA      2  1  1  0  3  2  4
INDIA                2  1  0  1  8  5  3
AUSTRALIA      2  1  0  1  6  3  3
MALAYSIA       2  0  1  1  4  6  1
PAKISTAN       2  0  0  2  3  11 0

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Arul: Goalkeeper Ridzwan let us down...

MALAYSIA were humbled 4-2 by Sultan of Johor Cup silver medallists Britain at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru yesterday.
  A hat-trick of penalty corner goals from skipper Luke Taylor doused Malaysia's fire after coach Arul Selvaraj's boys came back from two goals down to hold Britain 2-2.
  "Many things that went wrong but the worse was our goalkeeper. Extremely poor goalkeeping from Ridzwan Azmi and he has to take responsibility for this defeat because he let in three soft goals," said Arul.
  Arul also took to task the three senior players in the team for not carrying their weight: "Three players who have played with the senior side in many tournaments also had a poor outing and they should take part of the blame too. I hope this does not happen in Kuantan (Junior Asia Cup)."
  The three experienced players are Shahril Saabah, Haziq Syamsul and Meor Azuan Hassan.
  Malaysia played well in attack and defense to keep Britain busy and it was an entertaining match which was truly enjoyed by the capacity crowd.
  Fitness was on Malaysia's side, as they ran circles around the British, but could not find the mark as the match reached the 30th minute mark.
  Britain won the first penalty corner of the match in the 25th minute but the ball hit the bar.
  However, in the 32nd minute, skipper Luke Taylor's second penalty corener attempt was palmed by goalkeeper Ridzwan Azmi, but the ball rolled in for the lead.
  Immediately upon restart, Malaysia won their first penalty corner but poor trapping saw them trailing 0-1 at the half-time break.
  Malaysia bungled their second penalty corner as well in the 44th minute, and Britain mounted a counter-attack to score their second goal off Robert Gleeson.
  However, the Malaysian side kept fighting and Azwar Rahman scored the first off a field attempt in the 48th minute, while Shahril Saabah equalised at 2-2 in the 50th minute off Malaysia's third penalty corner.
  However, Brtain re-took the lead in the 62nd minute, when Taylor scored his second off another penalty corner.
  Luke got his hat-trick in the 68th minute, and it was all over for Malaysia.
  Defending champions India hammered Pakistan 5-1, to confirm their favourites tag. At half-time, India took a comfortable 4-0 lead into the dressing room.
  The India goals were scored by Ajay Yadav (fifth), Sumit Kumar (23rd), Armaan Qureshi (27th), Parvinder Singh (34th), Santa Singh (60th). The Pakistan consolation was scored by Muhammad Dilber in the 45th minute.
  In the first match of the day, debutants Argentina beat Australia 1-0 when Ladislao Gencarelli scored off a declection in the 65th minute.
  Argentina play Malaysia today, and coach Mariano Ronconi will be sending his team one to the pitch 'blindfolded'.
  "Frankly speaking, I don't have a clue about the Malaysian team but that is not a problem as we are going to play to our strength and learn as well as adapt as the agame progresses," said Ronconi.

RESULTS: Argentina 1 Australia 0, India 5 Pakistan 1, Malaysia 2 Britain 4.
  FIXTURES: Oct 12: Australia v Pakistan (4.35pm), Britain v India (6.3pm), Malaysia v Argentina (8.35pm).
  Oct 13: REST DAY.
  Oct 14: Britain v Pakistan (4.35pm), Argentina v India (6.3pm), Malaysia v Australia (8.35pm).
  Oct 15: Pakistan v Argentina (4.35pm), Britain v Australia (6.3pm), Malaysia v India (8.35pm).
  Oct 16: REST DAY
  Oct 17: Argentina v Britain (4.35pm), Australia v India (6.3pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (8.35pm).
  Oct 18: Final and placing matches


               P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
INDIA          1  1  0  0  5  1  3
BRITAIN        1  1  0  0  4  2  3
ARGENTINA      1  1  0  0  1  0  3
AUSTRALIA      1  0  0  1  0  1  0
MALAYSIA       1  0  0  1  2  4  0
PAKISTAN       1  0  0  1  1  5  0

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Shahril could turn king-maker...

MALAYSIA will be banking on penalty corner ace Shahril Saabah to get off on a flying start when they host Britain in the curtain raiser of the Sultan of Johor Cup today.
  The other world class teams in the SOJC are India, Australia, Argentina and Pakistan. All matches will be played at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru, and the entrance is free.
  Shahril made his mark while playing for Bandar Penawar Sports School in the Junior Hockey League, and is now fast becoming among the best penalty corner executioner in the country. 
  Malaysia played a friendly with Britain on Friday and lost 3-2: "We were trying out several tactical moves in the practice match and were really not at our best.
  "We are looking at a winning start and from my personal perspective, it’ll be nice to be on the scoring sheet against Britain, but more importantly its the three points that matter.”
  Shahril was a member of the 2013 Junior World Cup squad that finished fourth in New Delhi, and his experience will be invaluable in the SOJC.
   Malaysia, coached by Arul Selvaraj, will be hoping for a creditable performance ahead of the Junior Asia Cup that will be held in Kuantan next month. 
   Having had seven months of training together, the team, although short on international exposure will be counting on grit and determination to see them through to achieve their target of a podium finish.
  Last year it was a miserable fifth: "I'm looking for a positive attitude and consistency in matches from my players throughout the week.” said Arul who was also the coach of the team that finished fifth last year.
  “We will be trying out things that we have learned in training in order to gauge the ability of the players to perform at higher levels.”
  “I expect the players to give their best as this tournament will also serve as a selection process for the final squad of the Junior Asia Cup.”
  Britain’s manager Paul Gannon is looking forward to playing the hosts today.
  "It’s an exciting opportunity for us to play against the host team as they have home ground advantage.
  “But we won’t worry too much about Malaysia, we will focus on our own strengths and hopefully play well enough to win and kickstart a positive tournament run for,” said Gannon.
  Defending champions India beat Britain 2-1 in the final last year, with the winning goal coming in the final minute via Hermanpreet Singh. 
  They were also the champions in 2013 and will be looking to make a hat-trick of titles this year.
  “It will be nice to win (their third title) but we’re not going to put pressure on ourselves as the five other teams are also capable of winning the title this year,” said India coach Harendra Singh.
  India will start against Pakistan today.
  FIXTURES: Sunday -- Argentina v Australia (4.35pm), India v Pakistan (6.3pm), Malaysia v Britain (8.35pm).
  Oct 12: Australia v Pakistan (4.35pm), Britain v India (6.3pm), Malaysia v Argentina (8.35pm).
  Oct 13: REST DAY.
  Oct 14: Britain v Pakistan (4.35pm), Argentina v India (6.3pm), Malaysia v Australia (8.35pm).
  Oct 15: Pakistan v Argentina (4.35pm), Britain v Australia (6.3pm), Malaysia v India (8.35pm).
  Oct 16: REST DAY
  Oct 17: Argentina v Britain (4.35pm), Australia v India (6.3pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (8.35pm).
  Oct 18: Final and placing matches

Friday, October 9, 2015

Najib sets his mind on gold

NATIONAL Juniors skipper Najib Hassan is green behind the ears, but will be leading players who are much more experienced, in the Fifth Edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup.
  The SOJC starts on Sunday at the Taman Daya Stadium, and Najib will lead his mates into battle with two-time champions India, silver medallists Britain, Australia, Argentina and Pakistan.
  The 20-year-old is least bothered with the high standard of play he will be facing, and he has set his mind on lifting the SOJC trophy when the dust settles.
  Najib, who played for Tenaga Nasional in the Premier Division, said: "We have the ability to emerge as champions and this is what the team will strive to achieve."
  Malaysia finished fifth last year, but the skipper believes: "We are better prepared this year as my mates have been giving their best in training.
  "We hope to translate what we have learnt during training into a strong and consistent performance throughout the tournament."
  Coach Arul Selvaraj has three players who have played at the senior World Cup, Junior World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games but picked Najib for his leadership qualities.
  Striker Shahril Saabah, 21, is tht ace in the pack as he has played in the senior World Cup, Asian and Commonwealth Games.
  Midfielder Meor Azuan has seen action in the Commonwealth and Asian Games, while striker Haziq Samsul has played in the Junior World Cup and Commonwealth Games.
  Najib picked India and Australia as the teams to beat in Johor Baru.
   "Last year we lost to Britain (3-2) but will play to turn the tables on them in our opening match on Sunday" added Najib.
   "Britain of last season comprised of players that were almost 21 while for many of us it was our first international tournament.
   "So, we hope that hockey fans will fill the stadium and back the team throughout the tournament as we aim to give our best."
   The Perak-born said that while the Junior Asas Cup was their main target this year, a good finish at the SOJC will provide the perfect tonic to defend their Asian title and qualify for the World Cup in style.
   FIXTURES: Sunday -- Argentina v Australia (4.35pm), India v Pakistan (6.30pm), Malaysia v Britain (8.35pm).
  Oct 12: Australia v Pakistan (4.35pm), Britain v India (6.30pm), Malaysia v Argentina (8.35pm).
  Oct 13: REST DAY.
  Oct 14: Britain v Pakistan (4.35pm), Argentina v India (6.30pm), Malaysia v Australia (8.35pm).
  Oct 15: Pakistan v Argentina (4.35pm), Britain v Australia (6.30pm), Malaysia v India (8.35pm).
  Oct 16: REST DAY
  Oct 17: Argentina v Britain (4.35pm), Australia v India (6.30pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (8.35pm).
  Oct 18: Final and placing matches.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Final 18 for Sultan of Johor Cup

NATIONAL Juniors coach Arul Selvaraj left out two notable players when he named the final 18 for the Sultan of Johor Cup on Oct 11-18 at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru.
  Hamstring injuries floored Sufi Ismat and Rafidzul Ezry, and Arul is keeping his fingers crossed that both will recover in time for the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan in Nov 14-22.
  "It was a tough decision to leave them out but it's best to let them recover for the Junior Asia Cup next month (which is a Junior World Cup qualifier)," said Arul.
  "They will remain in the training squad and undergo rehabilitation with NSI (National Sports Institute) and will not travel to Johor.
  "I will add another two players to the training squad together with the duo and we will give all 22 players another chance to try for the Junior Asia Cup after the SOJC," said Arul.
   The team will depart for Johor Baru Friday morning and play Britain in a friendly at 5pm.
  Najib Abu Hassan, 20 and played for Tenaga Nasional in the Malaysia Hockey League Premier Division, will skipper the squad.
  The youngest player, the only 18-year-old, is Khaliq Hamirin from Sabah. He played for Universiti Kuala Lumpur in the MHL Premier Division.
  Malaysia, who finished fifth in the last edition, will be up against two-time champions India, Australia, Britain, Argentina and Pakistan in the Fifth Edition of the SOJC.
  NATIONAL Juniors: Ridzwan Azmi (Gk), Adi Fazri Rahim (Gk), Najib Abu Hassan (capt), Nik Aiman, Ashran Hamsani, Nor Azrul Rahman, Meor Azuan, Haziq Samsul, Firdaus Omar, Khaliq Hamirin, Norsyafiq Sumantri, Amirol Aideed, Shahril Saabah, Zulpidaus Mizun, Syed Syafiq, Azwar Rahman, Aminuddin Zain, Najmi Farizal.
  Coach: Arul Selvaraj; Asst Coaches: Jivan Mohan and Amin Rahim; Manager: Mirnawan Nawawi.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sleepless in Johor Baru

SEPT 28: The national juniors wore masks while in Johor Baru to familiarise themselves with the Taman Daya artificial pitch.

THE Johor HA are keping thir fingers crossed, hoping the haze will not be around when the Fifth Edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup starts on Sunday.
  This is the second time haze has caused sleepless nights for JHA officials, as they faced a similar situation when hosting the World League Semifinal in 2013.
  But back then, the haze cleared in time and Malaysia went on to book a place in the 2014 World Cup.
  SOJC will be held on Oct 11-18 at the Taman Daya Stadium and organising secretary Manjit Majid Abdullah said they will be liaising with the various agencies before making any decisions.
  "We are aware of the haze issue and hope it will clear soon. The health of players, officials and fans is our utmost priority," said Manjit who is also the Malaysian Hockey Confederation vice president.
  "We are closely monitoring the situation, as teams will start arriving from Tuesday and we are keeping our fingers crossed that wind and rain will help clear the air."
  Manjit added that they are also looking at the possibility of playing matches late as it is normally clearer in the evenings.
  "Rest assured we have the best interest of all involved before making a decision," he added.
   There are concerns that the tournament may be postponed due to the worsening haze condition affecting the nation as four Malaysia Cup matches were called off on Saturday as the Air Pollution Index reached unhealthy levels.
  A marathon, and the women's hockey final was also victim to haze on Saturday.
  Six teams will compete in the SOJC with defending champions India leading the stellar cast which includes debutants Argentina, last years losing finalists Britain, Australia, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

SOJC: In them we trust...

Completed their training in Taman Daya

THE national juniors have one week to sharpen themselves up before they do battle in the Fifth Edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru.
  The only Under-21 Invitational sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) will see Malaysia go up against back-to-back champions India, Pakistan, Australia, Argentina and Britain on October 11-18.
  The juniors, who just returned to Kuala Lumpur from a training stint at Taman Daya, will play friendlies with the national senior squad on Oct 6 and 7, and will also host Britian to a warm up match on the Oct 9, before the final squad is named.
  Juniors coach Arul Selvaraj will be banking on Shahril Saabah, Haziq Syamsul and Meor Azuan Hassan to deliver the goods as the trio have enough experience to lead the team.
  Shahril has played in the World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games with the senior side even though he is only 21.
  Haziq has seen action in the Commonwealth Games and 2013 Junior World Cup, while Meor has played in the Asian and Commonwealth Games.
  “I never rely on individual players, but their combined experience is vital to stabilise the team,” concluded Arul.
  And with the Junior Asia Cup slated on Nov 14-22 in Kuantan, Malaysia, India and Pakistan will be looking to get into gear as the tournament will offer four tickets to the Junior World Cup.
  India have already booked themselves a spot in the Junior World Cup as the host nation and all Malaysia need to do in Kuantan is to qualify for the semi-finals to cement their spot in the world cup.
  With that in mind, head Arul will be keeping his cards close to his chest during the SOJC, as rivals India and Pakistan will certainly be on the lookout for their strength and weakness.
   “Unfortunately this is the only tournament I have to test the boys and I am well aware that India and Pakistan will be keeping a close eye on us, with that in mind I will not reveal much during the tournament but will ensure the boys give their best,” said Arul
   Malaysia finished a disappointing fifth in the previous edition of the SOJC but are confident to walk away with a better result this time around.
  “I am prepared to see some heavy legs; the boys have been working extremely hard in training and I think they will see good results in return,”
  “We will take one game at a time. I am taking each game tactically, as I have plans on trying a few different tactics and we will build the team from there.
  “My biggest concern is injuries. With the Asia Cup just around the corner I have to keep my fingers crossed and hope none of my players gets injured,” added Arul.

Friday, October 2, 2015

MHC start steep Olympic and World Cup climb...

THE MALAYSIAN Hockey Confederation (MHC) selected 35 trainees for the senior squad yesterday, and it was based on merit and not sentiment.
  Three former stalwarts were dropped from the list, but Technical Director Terry Walsh reminded everybody that: "The door swings both ways."
  Veteran goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin, striker Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and midfielder Azlan Misron were left out, as MHC start preparing to get back into the Olympic and World Cup.
  Azlan is the highest capped Malaysian player with 349 internationals, while Roslan retired with 199 and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin with 206.
  Coach Stephen van Huizen and assistant Lim Chiow Chuan selected a team with an average age of 24, with the oldest being goalkeeper S. Kumar who is 36.
  Baljit Singh will no longer be the sole Punjabi representative, as Harmeet Singh, Harmesh Singh and Harvinder Singh were also included in the training squad.
  Harmeet, 23, and Harmesh, 22, played for Sapura in the Premier Division of the Malaysia Hockey League, while Harvinder turned out for Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club.
  "The selection was done with the Olympics and World Cup in mind, and so, we had to leave behind some players and try out others. We have six months to the Azlan Shah Cup, and so, emphasis would be on fitness and technical aspect of the game," said van Huizen.
  Also selected was Joel Samuel, van Huizen's son, who last turned out for the country in the 2013 Junior World Cup. He played for Sapura in the MHL.
  Walsh, tasked to turned around Malaysia's hockey misfortunes said: "Those who have been selected and those who were dropped must always understand that the door swings both ways. Don't take anything for granted, and comeback is also a possibility."
  Three 21-year-olds who will play in the Sultan of Johor Cup and then the Junior Asia Cup were also named as senior trainees.
  Meor Azuan, Shahril Saabah and Haziq Shamsul will be coach Arul Selvaraj's stalwarts when Malaysia play in both the junior tournaments.
  "Training will start on Monday with 21 players, as some are away with their clubs overseas, while others have some commitments to settle before answering the call-up," said van Huizen.
  GOALKEEPERS: S. Kumar (age 36), Hairi Abdul Rahman (25), Hafizuddin Othman (23), Hazrul Faiz (22).
  DEFENDERS: Razie Rahim (28), Noor Faeez Ibrahim (24), Suhkri  Mutalib (29), Azlam Hanafiah (22), Izad Hakimi (23), Harmesh Singh (22), Harmeet Singh (23), Shahrun Nabil (30), Shazril Irwan (22), Baljit Singh (29).
  MIDFIELDERS: Nabil Fiqri (28), Azri Hassan (23), Harvinder Singh (26), Joel Samuel van Huizen (23), Faiz Helmi (23), Marhan Jalil (25), Fitri Shaari (22), Ramadan Rosli (24), Norhizzat Sumantri (24), Meor Azuan (21).
  FORWARDS: Rashid Baharom (23), Syamin Yusof (23), Dedi Ariyadi (24), Hafiz Zainol (22), Faridzul Afiq (23), Dangerous Lee (23), Faizal Shaari (24), Firhan Ashari (22), Shahril Saabah (21), Haziq Samsul (21), Izwan Firdaus (26).

FOUR LIONS: Baljit, Harmeet, Harmesh, Harvinder ...

THE MALAYSIAN Hockey Confederation (MHC) training squad, after decades, saw four Punjabi's called up at once. S. Kumar is eldest at 36, while three juniors Meor Azuan, Shahril Saabah and Haziq Samsul will first play in the Sultan of Johor Cup then the Junior Asia Cup before joining the seniors.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Junior Asia Cup: Great Wall the first hurdle...

FORMER skipper Mirnawan Nawawi has been named as ambassador for Malacca hockey during the unveiling of new jerseys for "Malacca The Hurricanes". Mirnawan, born in Malacca, is three-time Olympian who played in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.
  Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal also attended the function to honour the former skipper fondly known as The 'Boss'.
  Mirnawan also played in three Asian Games -- Beijing 1990, Hiroshima 1994 and Bangkok 1998. He was also in the thick of action in the KL Champions Trophy in 2007, and two World Cup in Utrecht 1998 and Kuala Lumpur 2012.

MALAYSIA will open their campaign against China in the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan, Pahang, from Nov 14-22.
  The tournament offers four tickets to the Junior World Cup in India next year. And with India qualifying as hosts, defending champions Malaysia must play in the semi-finals to book their spot.
  In Group A with China, Japan and India -- Malaysia must not fumble in their opening match to keep the fire burning.
  Group B looke like an open book, as South Korea and Pakistan will be the front-runners, while Oman and Bangladesh playing catch-up.
  Coach Arul Selvaraj and his boys will have a tough time emulating the 2012 feat, which saw Malaysia snatch the gold in Malacca and went on to finish fourth in the Junior World Cup.
  Then, Malaysia were the highest ranked Asian team in the Junior World Cup as South Korea finished eighth, Pakistan ninth and India tenth.
  After China, Malaysia lock horns with tournament favourites India on Nov 15, followed by Japan on Nov 17. 
  "We have two tournaments starting with the Sultan of Johor Cup (Oct 11-18) followed by the Junior Asia Cup and the priority is the latter.
  "Out focus remains with the Asia Cup where we will first play to be in the semi-finals to qualify for the World Cup, and then make a dash to defend our title," said Arul.
  The SOJC will see Malaysia battle against two-time champions India, Australia, Pakistan, Britain and Argentina.
  "It (SOJC) will give us an insight into the strength of India and Pakistan ahead of the Junior Asia Cup," said Arul.
  India will be the team to beat in Group A, while Pakistan could be Malaysia's opponents in the semi-finals.
  India's budding striker Arman Qureshi had this to say about the SOJC: "The team is very confident as we aim to retain the title this time around too. This has made us even more positive of playing the matches ahead.
  "During our practice sessions, we have made good progress and aim for a better penalty corner conversion rate. We want to make our attack even stronger in the upcoming matches and look forward to carry out our game strategies firmly to claim the title.”
  India open against Pakistan in the SOJC.