News for 27 May 2012

All the news for Sunday 27 May 2012

An exciting Sunday await hockey fans

K Arumugam

Six matches, 30 goals and a rest day after, the action resumes here in Ipoh at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup competition.

Pool leaders New Zealand will lock horns with Pakistan in the first match, followed by Korea-Argentina cracker. The last match is billed for India and Great Britain. With a couple of stunning show, New Zealand has set the pace for others to follow, though most would have assigned that role for the British team simply because it is the highly ranked team here in Ipoh, and has been very dominant of late.

The two quick goals from Faizal Saari took away the complacency from the British, but it has undoubtedly added much masala to the competition. With nothing to lose, the home team drew Korea with a goal midway in the second half before the three-minute blitzkrieg against the British. Malaysian hockey needs mass support, and the performances such as this can help achieve those lofty goals.

The scheduling of the matches are such that it does not consider the convenience of the fans.

Firstly, no matches on Saturday. Maximum crowd comes on Saturday nights, but the organizers here chose to make it a rest day, and then secondly, the home team is not playing on Sunday. No action on Saturday and absence of home team on Sunday must be disappointing for the Ipoh fans. Be it as it may.

New Zealand is a team to catch up with by others here.

When a reporter asked when was the last time New Zealand defeated India on a high score such as this (1-5), captain Dean Couzins in the press meet said last year it was 6-2. However, coach McLeaod was quick to correct him, with a right score of 7-3. So the coach knows everything, where he was and where is now. With veteran Ryan Archibald, Andy Hayward, Philip Furrows and Simon Child in their elements, they are equal to the task here, and made their intentions clear as to what they aim.

After two heavy loses, Argentina has a big task on hand. The Pan American team caved in before Pakistan and New Zealand but today is different when takes on another poor shower Korea. In a way, the duo’s today encounter will very much decide their fate in the crucial Azlan Shah Cup competition.

However, it should be conceded that Argentina has got a not so favorable scheduling, had to play first match on two consecutive days. It is too much for any team to come upon.

Pakistan had two days rest and will not face New Zealand. The Kiwis did not concede much penalty corners so far. Pakistan will be in trouble if they fail to earn enough penalty corners and give much leeway to Sohail Abbas. Pakistanis’ fancy for field goals might prove to be their undoing.

India as well might face the same problem. Coach Michael Nobbs is on record that the Indians mindset of going for fancy shots once in the circle, instead of going for penalty corners when needed, has takers.

India too need to use their skills to manufacture penalty corners to put man in form Sandeep Singh in action.

Whatever, three good matches will make up a good Sunday. Back home in India, the good news is Neo Sports Channel will be telecast Live India – British match.

Juniors the ace in the pack

SYNERGY: Young guns blending well with seniors

By Jugjet Singh

Malaysia players celebrate Faizal Saari’s goal to equalise in their match against Britain in the Azlan Shah Cup on Friday. The match ended 3-3. Pic by Muhaizan Yahya

COACH Tai Beng Hai made the right choice when he included seven juniors in the Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Ipoh.

If not, Malaysia would have lost their matches against South Korea and Britain instead of the 1-1 and 3-3 draws respectively.

Juniors player Faizal Saari, who scored six goals in the Junior Asia Cup, has scored three of Malaysia's four goals thus far.

The other was scored by Azlan Misron off a penalty corner set-piece.

"It was the right choice to include a large number of juniors as they are combining well with the seniors and I personally feel the two draws are good results," said Beng Hai.

"I'm not saying that the seniors are not contributing, only that the juniors have blended well despite the short notice, and the senior-junior partnership has shown good results."

South Korea and Britain are in their final lap of preparations for the Olympics.

"Both the draws were against teams in their final run-up to the Olympics, so these are good results," said Beng Hai.

Faizal has been the ace in the pack, just as he was during the Junior Asia Cup where Malaysia became champions for the first time and also qualified for the Junior World Cup next year.

The juniors who were included in the Azlan Shah Cup squad are brothers Faizal and Fitri Saari, Amir Farid and Firhan Ashaari. However, all have played for the senior side before.

The new inclusions are juniors skipper Noor Faeez Ibrahim, Izzat Sumantri and Ramadhan Rosli.

Malaysia play India tomorrow.

New Straits Times

National players show they are made of sterner stuff these days


No way: Malaysia’s Azlan Misron is surrounded by Britain’s players during their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup match in Ipoh on Friday. — RONNIE CHIN / The Star.

IPOH: The national hockey team seem to be slowly but surely regaining their confidence in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

The Malaysian team’s morale was at an all-time low after failing to qualify for the Olympics in Dublin in March.

Malaysia, ranked 13th in the world, restored some semblance of pride after snatching two well-deserved draws in their opening two matches against South Korea and Britain, who are both ranked in the top six in the world.

In the opening match against the sixth-ranked Koreans on Thursday, Malaysia fought back from a goal down to equalise in the second-half through forward Faizal Saari.

Malaysia then showed tremendous fighting spirit to hold world No. 4 Britain to a 3-3 draw on Friday.

The national team were 3-1 down with just three minutes remaining.

Faizal, the joint top scorer in the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca recently, came to the rescue with two brilliant goals – finding the net with reverse hits in the 67th and 68th minutes.

The Malaysian teams of the past would have simply caved in under such situations.

But this team showed that they are made of sterner stuff – both physically and mentally. They showed that their never-say-die attitude in both the matches, especially in the game against Britain by fighting till the last whistle.

This is definitely a positive sign for the national players who were heavily criticised for failing to qualify for the Olympics for the third consecutive time.

Midfielder Mohd Shukri Abdul Mutalib, who was named skipper for the first time in a tournament, said the players had had enough of failures.

“We used to lose matches in the last few of minutes due to defensive errors but we have overcome that weakness,” said the 26-year-old Perak-born Shukri.

“We proved to the fans that we can fight back from the brink of defeat.

“We just need to stay focused throughout this tournament if we are to achieve our best-ever finish.”

The seven juniors have only had a few days’ training with the seniors but they have combined well, and this augurs well for the national team.

“Things are starting to look bright for us and we are regaining our confidence,” said Shukri, who has 152 international caps.

Besides Faizal, the other juniors in the team are Mohd Noor Faeez Ibrahim, Mohd Firhan Ashaari, Mohd Fitri Saari, Mohd Rahmadan Rosli, Norhizzat Sumantri and Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi.

Shukri hopes that they can reach the final – the target set by Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC).

“It won’t be easy but we must believe in ourselves and, with the strong support of the fans, we can do it,” he said.

“We have a two-day break to plan our strategy against India. I hope my team-mates will go all to bag our first win in the tournament.”

The Star of Malaysia

New Zealanders adapting well to blue turf

IPOH: New Zealand have been in smashing form in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament despite not having a blue turf back home.

The Kiwis trounced India 5-1 in their opening match on Thursday and outplayed Argentina 5-2 on Friday to lead the seven-team standings with six points.

The blue turf will be used for the first time at the London Olympics in July.

New Zealand assistant coach Darren Smith was pleased to see his players adapting so well to the blue turf, which is different than the green one.

“We don’t have a blue turf back home but we are fortunate to have trained on it for a few days in Ipoh,” he said.

“We also had a chance to train and play on the blue turf in Melbourne for the Super nine-a-side-tournament last October.

“My players are enjoying playing on the turf. I am also happy with our two convincing wins over India and Argentina.

“It’s good start for us and we hope to keep on improving to be on the podium.”

Smith said that they are also using the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to finalise their team for the Olympics.

New Zealand have a day’s rest before taking on Pakistan, who will be led by world leading scorer Sohail Abbas.

The 35-year-old defender is a top penalty corner specialist and has scored a record 329 goals in his career.

Smith admitted that Sohail would be a big threat to them.

“We must not only give away penalty corners but also convert those we get. Against Argentina, we earned 10 penalty corners and only scored from two,” said Smith.

Sohail scored a penalty corner goal to steer Pakistan to a 4-2 win over Argentina on Thursday.

The Star of Malaysia

Azlan Shah Cup Media Officer quits..

S Thyagarajan

IN a regrettable development, Azlan Shah Cup Media officer, Satwant Dhaliwal, has quit consequent an altercation with a Malaysian coach over seating in the media box.

The coach insisted on sitting in the reserved media area citing the chairs were unoccupied. Finding the official response indifferent to his complaint, Mr. Dhaliwal stepped down.

With some tact the incident could have been avoided. In the end, it has left a bitter taste among the national and international media personnel, who are here for the event.

The Hindu

The altercation involved not only swearing at the media officer in the stands, but he then barged into the Media Centre and swore at the Media Officer again in front of the other journalists. He left and then returned to threaten Mr. Dhaliwal with physical violence.

The Media Officer as an appointed official of the tournament was humiliated and threatened for doing his job. The current Malaysian coach is not part of the team playing in the tournament and so holds only the position of an invited guest. At any other international tournament the coach involved would have been stripped of his accreditation and barred from the tournament. The MHC response therefore is completely inexplicable and brings not only discredit to this tournament, but discredit to the MHC itself.

The Last Laugh

This is dedicated to those who held premature celebrations in Ipoh after I had withdrew my services as media officer for the Azlan Shah Cup having been threatened with bodily harm by a MHC official.

While all of you resorted through blogs to get where you are, you fail to realise that one day you will make a mistake that will ultimately bring you to ground.

The website has hourly hits of 25000 and a twitter following of 1700, far more than the sham some are pulling with the so called MHC and 1MAS sites that are a bigger shame then what this official did and said.

This blog will continue to reveal what transpires in the world of hockey without fear or favour.

So be prepared to cut your celebrations short and resort to threatening and bad mouthing as that is all these people are capable off.

In glory one flies high but when they fall, it will be with a thud. Some claim that Malaysian hockey is a result of their success, so they should now aim for bigger things.

And by the way I am still in Ipoh and will be at the stadium as I await the threat to be made good, I dare you to do what you say and not resort to let running dogs do your dirty work through the Internet.

A bigger agenda is what the story is but it is in the best interest that I just will wait and see.

Malaysian Hockey blogspot

Uhlenhorst and Amsterdam play off in EHL Final

EHL and EHCCC Finals confirmed

UHC players are celebrating (Photo: EHL / Frank Uijlenbroek)

EHL double winners Uhlenhorster HC and Final 4 hosts Amsterdam H&BC play off in Sunday’s Euro Hockey League (EHL) Final. These teams have never met in the EHL. The women’s EuroHockey Club Champions Cup (EHCCC) Final will be played between the Dutch champions HC’s-Hertogenbosch and Hoofdklasse playoffs runners-up Larensche MHC.

Uhlenhorster HC make it to their fourth final in the fifth season of the Euro Hockey League. In Saturday’s first Semi Final the EHL double winners defeated KHC Dragons from Belgium 2-1 in a penalty shoot-out. The result was tied 2-2 after 80 minutes of top hockey.

Hamburg had come back from 0-2 down. Florent van Aubel and Felix Denayer scored for Dragons, Moritz Fürste and Patrick Breitenstein for UHC. While Uhlenhorst extended their unbeaten streak in EHL Semi Finals, Dragons failed to produce the first Belgian Finalist in EHL history.

Amsterdam join Uhlenhorst in Sunday’s EHL Final. The last time Amsterdam met German opponents in Europe's premier competition was in the group phase of the Champions Cup in 2005, when they beat Der Club an der Alster 5-4.

Amsterdam have never won the EHL, however did win the Champions Cup, the predecessor to the EHL, in 2005. Also, they can join HGC as the only clubs to win the Euro Hockey League in front of a home crowd.

It was the first time in history that Amsterdam defeated HC Rotterdam in an EHL match. In Saturday’s second Semi Final the Dutch champions won 3-0.

While the Hoofdklasse playoffs runners-up Rotterdam have won medals in all three EHL editions they have participated in, Amsterdam’s only EHL medal came in 2010 when they took Bronze. Now they will win either Gold or Silver making it their most successful season in EHL history. Amsterdam’s goals were scored by Valentin Verga, Don Prins and Teun Rohof.

Rotterdam failed to take revenge for their defeats in the Hoofdklasse Finals, while Amsterdam celebrate their first victory over Rotterdam in EHL history. Rotterdam and Dragons play off for third place.

Uhlenhorst’s women defeated Spanish champions Club de Campo 3-1 in extra time in the EHCCC third place play-off. The German champions lost 1-2 on penalties to Laren in Friday’s Semi Final. In the opening match Den Bosch won 1-0 against Campo.

Detailed tournament information such as the schedule, live-streaming, match summaries, previews, tickets, teams and officials and even more is available on , the official website of the Euro Hockey League.

Euro Hockey League media release


Draws for Grange and Wanderers

Grange made heavy weather of stealing a 3-3 draw with Czech side Rakovnik in their opening pool match at the European Club Champions Challenge in Zagreb. 

In a game that Grange should have won hands down considering the number of chances that went astray, the Edinburgh side suddenly found themselves 3-2 down with two minutes remaining.  But honour was finally saved when Colin McIver won a belated penalty corner and Fraser Sands beat the goalkeeper with a powerful low flick in at the right hand post to ensure a share of the points at the end.

The Scots got off to the best of starts when 15 year old Hamish Imrie pushed the ball home following a pass from Phil Sully.   Grange should have doubled their account, Martin Kelly was taken out in the act of shooting, but the normally reliable Rob Barr put his spot effort high over the bar.   The miss was punished with the Czechs levelling the score, but in the final four minutes of the half under 21 internationalist Adam Walker won a penalty corner and Sands drilled a low shot into the net.

Although the Scots continued to have control of the game and contrived to waste a further nine penalty corners, it was Rakovnik who proved the more composed in front of goal and went into a 3-2 lead before Sands` late strike salvaged a draw.

"It was a very disappointing result, we had some very good spells and should have scored a barrowload of goals, but we allowed the Czechs to take advantage of their long balls out of defence," said Stuart McMorrow, Grange`s manager.

Today Grange play Eagles from Gibraltar and a draw would be enough for the Scots to advance to Monday`s promotion play-offs.

In the equivalent women`s competition in Switzerland VWS Dundee Wanderers` chances of promotion took a nose dive when they could only draw 3-3 with Czech side Praha, and now must beat Amiscora from Italy in today`s final pool match to keep their hopes alive.

The Taysiders were two up at the interval through strikes by Jenny Gerrard and Becky Ward.  Early in the second half the Czechs levelled at 2-2, but Ward struck again to take a 3-2 lead.   Praha quickly equalised again, the Scots then pressed for the winner but failed with eight penalty corners while Ward hit the bar and had another effort cleared off the line.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Favorites Continue Their Winning Ways on Day 2 at Cal Cup 2012

By Jawwad Qamar

Moorpark, CA: Day 2 at Cal Cup 2012 produced some exciting matches in both super divisions. However, form prevailed as favorites continued their winning ways. Mexico U-21 started the day by edging out San Jose Khalsa 2-1 after a scoreless first period in pool A. Cougars continued their dominance by surprising the Montauk Sharks 5-0 thanks to a pair by Will Holt.  The Sharks bounced back later in the day by beating San Jose Khalsa 4-1.  Vancouver Millionaires also had same 4-1 result against Mexico U-21.

In the match of the day, Hockey Factory and Sonora of Mexico played to a scoreless tie. Romero Raymundo Sosa was outstanding in goal for the Mexicans making numerous acrobatic saves and frustrating Calum Gilles and the Hockey Factory time after time.  Dirty Birds form Canada had a much easier day, first hammering Super Bulldogs 10-0 as Matthew Guest went on a 5-goal rampage and Andrew Schouten netted 3 and then shocking Sonora with a 6-1 beating thanks to six different players getting into the act.  USA U-21 scored their first win of the tournament by handing the Bulldogs their second loss of the day 2-0.

With one game left in pool play for majority of the teams, the Cougars and the Millionaires are atop pool A and Dirty Birds and the Hockey Factory are on top in pool B. In the men semifinals to be held late tomorrow, the two Canadian teams will face each other first followed by the Cougars against Hockey Factory.

In the Women’s Division, Jolie Pitts shocked Chacras Vintage from Argentina 6-1 and Monarcas followed by edging out Hollywood II 2-1.  Monarcas ended second day’s play in a thrilling fashion with a 3-2 win against the veteran Rush’d after being down a 1-2 at the end of first half.  As there are only five teams this year in the Women’s Super Division, the women are playing in round robbin format. And, if the form holds true Monarcas and Rush’d are expected to face each other for the ladies title on Sunday.

For all scores, schedule and directions to the hockey venues, please visit Exclusive

Olympics moment: Concede late goal in Sydney

That the Indian hockey team is famous for conceding last-minute goals is now an accepted fact. But none hurt more than the one 12 years ago in Sydney.

India, led by the legendary Dhanraj Pillay, began with a 3-0 win over Argentina, held hosts Australia to a 2-2 draw and suffered a shock 0-2 loss to South Korea before bouncing back with a 3-2 win over Spain.

India had to beat Poland to qualify for the last-four stage for the first time in 20 years.

The first half ended goalless. India began the second period in positive fashion. And they were rewarded when Dilip Tirkey scored in the 53rd minute off a penalty corner.

But a moment of madness from Mukesh Kumar saw him being shown the yellow card. He was sent off. Reduced to 10 men, India panicked and fell back in defence.

With 90 seconds to go, a Polish attacker ran down the left, cut across towards the D, and took a flat crack across the goalmouth. Ramandeep Singh, oblivious to the fact that Tomasz Cichy had run in behind his back, made a casual attempt to stop the ball. And the ball hit his stick and ricocheted straight to Cichy who slammed home off an acute angle from the right. Poland equalised. As the hooter blew, Pillay had tears running down his face. India eventually finished seventh.


Lagos kicks off 3rd Hockey Premier League

By Ime Bassey

The third edition of  the International Energy Insurance Hockey Premier League would kicked off  at the weekend in Lagos at the National Stadium Hockey pitch with all eyes on the Union Bank hockey team, winners of the inaugural Nigeria Hockey Federation (NHF) Top 4 Championship for Adekunle Kukoyi Cup last month.

The IEI hockey league is coming back in a big way following last season’s one off grand finale in Abuja. The tournament is returning back to its old format with regional places in Lagos and Kaduna after which the top four teams in the male and female categories would gather in Abuja for the grand finale.

The tournament flicked off with the Atlantic Conference with teams in the south and western region of the country converging at the National Stadium Hockey pitches, Lagos.

The 2011 IEI Premier league was won by Yobe Desert Warriors, which defeated Niger Flickers in the final play while the female category was won by Bayelsa Queens, which returned to give Imo Heartlands, winners of the inaugural edition of the league in 2010, a run for their money, to lift the trophy.

According to Omiema Brown, NHF Director of Development Committee and coordinator of the Atlantic Conference, the Atlantic Conference would be tough considering the calibre of teams vying for honours in Lagos.

Among them are Union Bank team, Lagos State male and female Hockey teams, Ondo male and female Hockey teams, Heartlands of Imo State (African champions), Rivers State male and female teams, Edo male and female teams, Delta male and female teams and Bayelsa Queens, defending champions.