News for 27 January 2012

All the news for Friday 27 January 20112


SA Hockey Women beat Belgium 2-1 in Randburg

JONATHAN COOK in Randburg


Barbara Nelen of Belgium and Shelley Russell of South Africa during the Investec Series International at Randburg Hockey Stadium Thursday night. Photo: LEE WARREN (GALLO).

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team beat Belgium 2-1 in the Test match at Randburg Thursday night.

Belgium opened the scoring when Sofie Gierts slipped the ball past SA goalkeeper Mariette Rix after just 25 seconds. SA equalised in the 10th minute when Tarryn Bright’s pass into the strike zone was helped past Belgian goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooghe by Kathleen Taylor. The winner came with 25 minutes left after Bright’s penalty corner rocket.

The Investec Tri-Nations Series starts at 2 pm at Randburg Saturday when SA face Ireland before facing Belgium at the same time Sunday.

Head coach Giles Bonnet was without several top players in the likes of world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee, 2004 and 2008 Olympian Kate Woods and the silky-skilled Lesle-Ann George to name some, as he had a last look at certain players before the team for the Olympic Qualifier in Delhi is named at the 11.30 am press conference at Randburg Friday.

The SA team did a good job, earning 10 penalty corners to one and getting more shots on goal.

Belgium made an electric start, the ball passing through six sticks before Gierts put the Europeans 1-0 up just 25 seconds into the match. SA’s first two corners went awry and Belgium’s good running on and off the ball ensured that Erica Coppey had a good opportunity before Bright and Taylor combined for the equaliser.

Belgian umpire Laurine Delforge and her South African colleague Annelize Rostron were kept busy in both strike zones as play was transferred at pace from one end to the other.

SA’s flowing movement presented captain Marsha Marescia with an opportunity before a stunning left-right diagonal run by pacy Shelley Russell won the girls in green and gold’s third PC. The fourth PC came and went while at the other end Jill Boon’s shot was blocked by Rix with just the keeper to beat and Celia Evans, in her 50th international for South Africa, was twice denied.

SA were unfortunate not to go ahead from their fifth and sixth corners just after the changeover as several shots were fired at D’Hooghe but in the 45th minute it was lucky number seven that did the trick as Bright’s shot scorched the turf (2-1).

Belgium survived corners eight, nine and 10 before winning their first and Rix made a top-class glove save from Boon’s reverse-stick rocket.

Belgium face Ireland in the last warm-up international at 7 pm Friday at Randburg.

SA Hockey Association media release



Hockeyroos Finish Tour with Victory Over Japan

The Hockeyroos have finished their USA and Argentina Tour with a 2-1 victory of world number 9, Japan in Rosario, Argentina.

The two week tour of the USA and Argentina was an important beginning to their 2012 London Olympic Games preparation. The girls first landed in San Diego, USA where they played 4 matches against the USA national team. The Hockeyroos won the series 2 wins - 0 losses and 2 draws. Goals were hard to come by against the USA with the Hockeyroos scoring 6 goals in four matches.

The Hockeyroos departed San Diego for picturesque Argentina where they played two matches against world number 1 Netherlands, and one match against world number 3 Germany and world number 9 Japan. An prolific 4-1 victory over the Netherlands got their Argentina tour off to a great start. A 0-1 loss to the Dutch in their second game was followed by a 3-1 victory over Germany. The Hockeyroos finished their tour off with a solid victory over Japan 2-1.

Hockeyroos Coach Adam Commens said "It was good to finish with another solid performance and a win. The Hockeyroos return home from their international tour scoring 15 goals for and 7 goals against.

Best players for the tour were Casey Eastham, Madonna Blyth, Kobie McGurk and Emily Smith.

Congratulations to young striker Emily Smith for scoring the most goals during the tour. Smith has now scored 4 goal from only 9 International matches.

Hockeyroos 2 def Japan 1

USA and Argentina Tour Goal scorers tally

3 - Emily Smith
2 - Megan Rivers
2 - Claire Messent
2 - Kellie White
1 - Casey Eastham
1 - Georgia Nanscawen
1 - Jade Close
1 - Jodie Schulz
1 - Emily Hurtz

Hockey Australia media release



Ireland 1 -1 Great Britain (men)

Ireland's men took on Great Britain today in the first of two training matches at Bisham Abbey. Ireland opened the scoring early on when Paul Gleghorne netted after a swift counter attack and good combination work in the circle on the 12th minute of play.

Both sides continued to have chances through open play and penalty corners but with neither side realising their opportunities the half time whistle blew with the boys in green one up.

Great Britain came out strong in the second half equalising in the 38th minute scoring through open play. The game continued to ebb and flow with great play from both sides but it was Ireland who had the real chance to steal the game as they secured a penalty corner on the whistle. The initial corner was saved but gave way to another but Ireland just couldn't convert and the game closed out in a one all deadlock.

Ireland will play their second match at 11am tomorrow.

Starting XI: David Harte (GK); John Jackson; Ronan Gormley; Paul Gleghorne; Conor Harte; Eugene Magee; Andy McConnell; Chris Cargo; Michael Watt; Mitch Darling; David Ames
Reserves (all used): Stuart Loughrey; Jonathon Bell; Ian Sloan; Peter Caruth; Timmy Cockram; Gareth Watkins; Shane O'Donoghue

Irish Hockey Association media release



Black Sticks Men win second practice match against Japan 3-1

A diligent Black Sticks Men's side continued to show a high work rate and well structured play to come out with a 3-1 win over Japan tonight.

Black Sticks Men's coach Shane McLeod said the team's focus was to continue working on structure and patterns of play.

"Tonight we had a much better second half with less turnover. We created more patterns of play and had success in trying a new midfield structure," says McLeod. He also commented on Simon Child's game, pointing to his work rate and creating breaks in attack.

Results:
Half time 2-0
Full time: 3-1

Goal Scorers:
First half:
Simon Child - FG
Matt L'Huillier - PC
Second half:
Simon Child - FG

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Black Sticks out-muscled 6-1 to China in final practice match before Champions Trophy

The Black Sticks Women were out-muscled by China 6-1 in their final practice match in Rosario today.

Coach Mark Hager took the opportunity to vary positions and patterns of play in what was their last practice match before Champions Trophy.

"We tried a few positional changes and experimented with a few things, so positive learnings have come from that," says Hager.

The Black Sticks Women will begin their Champions Trophy campaign, meeting Argentina in their first match of pool play on Saturday 28 January at 20:00 (Argentina time) - Sunday 29 January at 12:00 (NZ time).

All the Black Sticks matches will be televised LIVE on Sky Sport - check out the schedule here!

Results
First 3rd: 3-0 (JPN)
Second 3rd: 5-1 (JPN)
Third 3rd: 6-1 (JPN)

Goal Scorers:
Second 3rd:
Clarissa Eshuis

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Black Sticks Women set and ready for FIH Champions Trophy


The Black Sticks Women will be drawing from their experience in the Four Nations Tournament last week in Cordoba, when they take on home side Argentina in their first match of the FIH Champions Trophy in Rosario at midday on Sunday (NZ time).

The Kiwis lost to Argentina 3-2 in extra time in the bronze medal match at the Four Nations Tournament, but are hoping to put their wrongs right when they face the world’s number two side in front of a full stadium on Sunday.

“Last year the Champions Trophy was the major event for us, whereas this year we are training for the Olympics and using Champions Trophy to see how we are positioned and the areas to focus on over the next six months,” says Hager.

After playing Argentina, the Black Sticks Women will face eighth ranked Korea at 9.30am on the 30 January (NZ time) and then third ranked Germany at 9.30am on 1 February (NZ time) in pool play. The Netherlands, China, Great Britain and Japan will play in pool A.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is trialing an alternate competition format where the cross over round will see the top teams of Pool A play the bottom teams of Pool B. The four winners then advance to semi-finals and semis’ winners to the final.

All the Black Sticks games will be live on Sky Sport with coverage of their Argentina match from midday this Sunday. For the scheduled television times go to - http://www.hockeynz.co.nz/hockeyontv/

Hawke’s Bay is the Principal Partner of the Black Sticks Men and Women.

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Great Britain ready for a stern test at the Champions Trophy before the Games begin

By Emily Benammar



On target: Helen Richardson believes Britain will have an edge with Scottish and Welsh players in their ranks

Great Britain’s hockey women play a tournament for the first time since Beijing 2008 at the Champions Trophy in Argentina this weekend, a dress rehearsal for the London 2012 Olympics and a chance for individuals to cement a place in the final squad.

With the 20th edition of the eight-nation tournament falling in an Olympic year, Great Britain are competing instead of England, Britain’s regular nominated side for world level competitions, presenting Danny Kerry and his squad an invaluable opportunity to test themselves against the world’s leading sides.

“It’s an Olympics year so everything we do and every decision we make is based around what is best for that. However we fare at the Champions Trophy, it will just be another stepping stone towards the Games,” says England and Great Britain midfielder Helen Richardson.

“We know we haven’t tapered for this tournament and so physically we won’t be at our best. And it’s important to understand that if it all goes to pot out here it’s not the end of the world. The most important thing for us is that we can compete as Great Britain which doesn’t only give us tournament experience, but our opponents will have seen less of the Scottish and Welsh players, so we will have something of an edge.”

While apprehensive about talking up Great Britain’s chances in Argentina, Richardson and her team-mates’ confidence ahead of their opening match against Japan will be buoyed by recent victories over world champions Argentina, Korea and New Zealand at the Four Nations, where they finished runners up.

Great Britain will also come up against defending champions and world No 1 side Holland and 2008 Olympic silver medallists China in the Champions Trophy pool stages, while their Four Nations opponents and Germany make up the other side of the draw.

Of the 30 players to have started out on Great Britain’s centralised Olympic programme in 2009, only 16 will be included in Kerry’s final squad. “That’s very tough but we have to live with it everyday,” Richardson says. “I’m the same as the others; I try to be the best I can [and] everyday in training I push myself. All you can do is your best and hope you’re one of the 16.

“I’ve been lucky to play in two [Olympics] already but I have not got what I want yet.”

Fixtures: Jan 28 Great Britain v Japan (6pm). 29 Great Britain v Holland (6pm) 31 Great Britain v China (6pm). Feb 2 quarter-finals Feb 3 semi-finals Feb 5 final and bronze medal play-off.

The Telegraph



Seoul Games golden boy Sean Kerly still loves a bit of stick after all these years

By Ian Chadband, Chief Sports correspondent



Grandad: Kerly is still playing aged 52

Canterbury Hockey Club’s sixth team, aka ‘the Millers’, are about to get beaten on their home PoloFarm turf. As usual. No surprise there, explains Mark Batchelor, one of the stalwarts of this ragtag crew of kids and veterans. “That’s because we are fairly rubbish,” he says, gloriously deadpan.

Then the double take. Who’s that No 8 out there, the midfielder with his shirt flapping around, the one who likes a chat with the umpire and has just missed a sitter? Could have sworn we’ve seen him before. Then it dawns and it feels as weird as espying Gary Lineker doing a turn for his local Dog and Duck XI.

Ah, so that’s what happened to Sean Kerly, the Olympic legend, the one whose goals won the 1988 gold for Britain in Seoul and made him the only hockey player ever to truly imprint himself on the nation’s sporting psyche.

This granddad turns 52 this week, jokes that his speed, strength and knees have gone with the wind but he’s still out there, looking improbably youthful and stiffly having a ball even while being sledged cheerily by opposition defenders of a certain age: “Oi, you old git. Shouldn’t you have packed in ages ago? I remember when you used to be good.”

Some of the kids don’t even remember him at all. “And even when they’re told, they see the real me — and that I’m not very good any more!” Still, he would have it no other way. He still loves all the banter. And the umpire baiting. And the goals.

“He’s got six this season. Not bad when you’re playing for a team as bad as this,” jokes Batchelor of the deadly marksman who scored 107 times for Great Britain and England and probably well over a thousand all told in his 40-year career.

Seven of those came when Britain landed Olympic bronze in Los Angeles in 1984 but none were more fabled than the eight he netted in Seoul, including the semi-final hat-trick against Australia and the one which helped down Germany in the final. It made Kerly an overnight hero. He was Lineker with a stick. And a bit of attitude.

“I wasn’t your standard public schoolboy. An old grammar school boy, who was a bit rough round the edges, swore occasionally and was a bit feisty, up for a fight with anybody. Oh, and my name was heaven for the headline writers.”

The man who grabbed those Germans by the ‘Sean and Kerlys’ laughs at the memories. An unemployed merchandising manager picking up two grand just for reading out a few words at a dry cleaner’s conference? And did he really get paid just for walking on stage in a Carlisle panto, Cinderella, dressed as Dandini with a hockey stick slung over his shoulder? Oh, yes he did!


Going for gold: Kerly in his prime during the 1988 Olympics

The celebrity did not last long. He reckons he was a bit naive, an amateur quite unprepared for the “crazy circus”. He got ripped off while some of his team-mates were aggrieved at the limelight enveloping just him, an irritation for them that he can perfectly understand. “But I was hot only for a few months,” he jokes. “And cold thereafter.” Yet there’s the irony. Kerly was never really forgotten. In the quarter of a century since his heroics, a game played by more than 100,000 in England alone never has discovered anyone to match his fame.

“It’s sad for the game that we’ve never found the big personality the man in the street would know, a trailblazer,” he says. “You can’t engineer it or force it. It’s about being in the right place at the right time. And there’s no better time and place than London 2012.”

Step forward then, midfielder Ashley Jackson. “He’s our finest exponent. More skill than I ever dreamed of having. Or it could be someone like Richard Alexander, a real personality they call ‘Ratman’. Big talent, big hair, outrageous showman, bit of a nutter.” Yes, just Kerly’s sort.

 

  • Ashley Jackson: still regarded as one of the best in the world despite eight months out with an abdominal injury in 2011. Deadly on the drag-flick and a nuisance to even the best of defenders.
  • Richard Alexander: a huge personality and the clown of the squad, so much so he danced for the Sultan Azlan Shah at last year's tournamentin Malaysia. Definitely worth a YouTube search.
  • Barry Middleton: longstanding England and Great Britain captain. Solid in the middle and GB's top scorer with 29 to his name in 87 caps.


Kerly will be a BBC commentator at the Games alongside the maestro who called that 1988 final, Barry “Where-were-the-Germans-but-frankly-who-cares” Davies, and accepts they will be watching a 21st century game demanding such pace, power and precision from today’s full-timers that it will bear little resemblance to the fare in his amateur heyday.

After 1988, Kerly felt Britain’s hockey authorities were not really professional enough to take full advantage of the heaven-sent opportunity for the sport presented by the Seoul triumph. He fancies today’s administrators are much better prepared but whether the sides can deliver is another matter.

He wonders if the GB women could have a better chance than their male counterparts, who suffered a humiliating 8-1 defeat to Spain amid a disappointing Champions Trophy campaign before Christmas. Kerly thinks Ric Charlesworth’s exceptional Australian men’s side may be the best he has seen so everyone else could all be playing for silver.

The discovery of new standard bearers for British glory, though, would delight no one more than him. “Well, I had my 15 minutes, thank you very much, and it was great fun while it lasted,” he smiles. “But it doesn’t and never did define me as a person.” That person has a lot going for him. There’s Kerly the dad who enjoys watching two of his three daughters playing hockey for Canterbury and Kerly the entrepreneur, running his successful business communications company in Herne Bay with wife Paula.

As for Kerly the hockey player? “Well, honestly, I’ve always felt I got more kudos than I ever deserved. History has given me too much of a glow; I was good, mainly at one or two things, but not great,” he says with a modest shrug.

Sorry, Sean. But we are not having that. That bloke in the No 8 shirt complaining that we don’t really want to see a picture of him wheezing, do we? Well, some of us can still picture him when he was the very best.

The Telegraph



Star performers

Y. B. SARANGI


Environmental influences do shape individuals. They have spurred two youngsters, hailing from distant corners of the country, to take up hockey seriously despite the not-so-lucrative status of the sport at present. Despite their different backgrounds, S.K. Uthappa (21) and Kothajit Singh (19) share the same passion – to excel on the astro-turf. The two players earned their maiden India shirts in the recently-concluded Test series against South Africa and impressed with their performances.

The chief coach of the Indian team, Michael Nobbs, was delighted to see them perform to their potential and compete for spots in the National side for the forthcoming Olympic qualifier. It was only natural for Uthappa, from Coorg (the nursery of hockey in Karnataka which has produced stalwarts like M.P. Ganesh, B.P. Govinda and Arjun Halappa), to pick up the crooked stick. “In Coorg, everyone plays hockey. My brother played for the Bangalore University.

My family always wanted me to play hockey and represent the country,” said the well-built player sporting attractive locks.

“I thought, let me play the game I am good at,” added Uthappa, who had moved to Bangalore eight years ago to pursue the sport at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre there.

Best player

Uthappa, an attacking midfielder, hogged the limelight in last year's National championship in Bhopal, where he was adjudged the best player. From there, he took the big leap. “Representing the country was a big moment for me. I want to give my best (for India),” said Uthappa, a B.Com final year student at the College of Commerce in the Garden City. “I am grateful to my college which has helped me a lot in pursuing my sport.” A promising player who idolises centre-half Sardar Singh, Uthappa feels his game has improved a lot after attending the National camp.

A video games fanatic and a Chelsea fan to the core, Uthappa is a sportive guy in his inner circle. “All my team mates play pranks on me for my surname. They say, I am the ‘Robin Uthappa' of hockey,” he says with a smile.

Quite different from the Karnataka player is Kothajit, a typical shy Manipuri. Born to a family of hockey players, the teenager had no choice but to play the sport. “In my family, my parents, three brothers and a sister are all hockey players,” said Kothajit, belonging to the land of Olympian Thoiba Singh.

Incidentally, Kothajit and Changlensana Singh were the latest men's hockey players from the state to make it to National side after several years.

Made a mark

Kothajit, who moved to the SAI centre in Lucknow in 2009 to hone his skills, made his mark in the Ranchi National Games in February last. Later, he proved his worth when he was selected for the National camp. “An Olympics medal is the ultimate achievement in hockey. I am aiming for that,” said the gritty player. “I admire Dhanraj Pillay. I wanted to be like him when I started,” said the midfielder, who began as a forward. Kothajit, despite his passion for hockey, has not lost touch with his studies and is continuing his Std X at present. “I find time to go through my books and prepare for the exams.”

The soft-spoken Manipuri, who loves to go out with friends and watch movies in his free time, is not untouched by the influence of Facebook. “It is part of today's life. I am not a regular Facebooker, but sometimes use it to stay in touch with my friends,” says the happy-go-lucky youth. Kothajit, however, does not forget the primary aim of his life – to make an impact by keeping up the good work on the turf.

The Hindu



NBP, PIA off to flying start on day one

Staff Report


KARACHI: Defending champions National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and last year’s runners-up Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) got off to a flying start in the 59th National Hockey Championship by winning their opening matches at Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium here on Thursday. Sindh sports minister Dr Muhammad Ali Shah was the chief guest and inaugurated the event.

Star-studded NBP scored a pair of goals in each half to demolish Pakistan Navy 4-0. Umar Bhutta and Muhammad Rizwan scored the opening two goals with a field effort. Sibtain Raza converted a penalty corner in the second session and Ali Shan completed the tally in 60th minute.

PIA scored three goals to defeat Habib Bank Limited (HBL) to get three full points. Adnan Anwar opened the account for the winners in 11th minute and Shafqat Rasool double the lead with a field goal. As HBL defenders struggled, Yasir Aslam blasted the third goal in 22nd minute to put PIA on top. HBL fought well in the second session but were unable to convert their chances due to lack of finishing inside the circle.

Pakistan WAPDA, who finished third in the last National Championship, were held to 1-1 draw by spirited Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC). WAPDA made a great start when Aleem Bilal converted a penalty corner in the opening minute of the match. However, SSGC showed a fighting spirit and produced an equaliser four minutes from time through Zeeshan Bukhari. In the first match of the day, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) downed Port Qasim Authority (PQA) 2-1. Asif Manzoor netted the first goal with short corner and Rao Aamir netted the second in 14th minute. Abu Bakar reduced the margin in 21st minute. In the sluggish second half, both teams failed to add any goal to their tally.

Today’s fixtures:


PHF Academy vs Pakistan Navy
HBL vs SSGC
PIA vs Pakistan Army.

The Daily Times



Argentina withdraw from Pakistan hockey event

Our Sports Reporter


LAHORE: Argentina have refused to take part in the four-nation tournament, which the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is trying to stage in March this year as part of national team’s preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games, to be held in August-September.

It was learnt that Argentina Hockey authorities had expressed non-availability of their national team for the said tournament, while India — another country invited for the said contest — is also not ready to confirm their participation. Malaysia was the third country, invited for the tournament.

However, it is further learnt that the PHF has contacted Argentina’s ambassador in Pakistan to urge him to convince his country’s authorities to send their team to Pakistan for the tournament, insisting fool-proof security would be provided to Argentine hockey squad.

The proposed competition can be considered as the main event for the PHF for the preparation of national team for the Olympics.

If Pakistan does not succeed in hosting the four-nation tournament, then Azlan Shah Cup will be the only major event available for the PHF prior to the London Games.

Dawn



Manzoor Jr blasts Qasim Zia for ignoring hockey matters

Mohammad Yaqoob


LAHORE: Former Olympian Manzoor Junior has lashed out at the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Qasim Zia for neglecting the hockey issues and for concentrating more on the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) election for its president’s post.

Talking to Dawn, the former captain who led the country to 1984 Olympics gold medal said: “The PHF President does not really care for the team’s preparations for the Olympics. While other countries have already announced their plans, there is no such final announcement from the PHF. Instead, the PHF chief is more involved in the POA elections.”

“I don’t know what has driven Qasim to go for the POA polls which is a bigger organization compared to the PHF. If he can’t run the PHF properly, despite having million of rupees at his disposal, what can he do for the promotion of sports in the POA which has some 40 affiliated units?” Manzoor argued.

“Qasim is also levelling charges about the election rules of the POA, but here I would like to know if he himself was elected as PHF president through any genuine election process. I can’t make any comment on the last PHF elections because the case is pending with a court of law,” he said.

Manzoor said instead of making efforts to raise a formidable team for this year’s Olympic Games, the PHF has conveniently handed all responsibilities to its Dutch coach Michel van den Heuvel. But the coach has been away from the national team since last year’s Champions Trophy in Auckland and he has no sympathy with our hockey,” he said.

He lamented that while Pakistan would be facing its sternest test in the Olympics, the PHF appeared quite content after hosting a series against the lowly-rated China.

“Even against China, Pakistan’s performance was just marginal, raising eyebrows about their ability to do well against stronger teams,” he said.

When reminded the PHF was claiming to arrange a four-nation tournament in Pakistan sometime in March, Manzoor said every tournament for the team’s preparations should have been planned much earlier as the other countries had done it. “I think the PHF has made up its mind to go for the 7th place in the Olympics.”

Asked the PHF eyeing the victory stand in the Olympics, Manzoor called it a sweet dream.

When asked to comment on the recent PHF-Olympians stand-off, Manzoor said the former Olympians had submitted their replies to PHF’s legal notice in which they had refused to ask for pardon for making the allegations. “The PHF has not moved further on the matter which means the Olympians were right in their stance and in writing the letter to the PM.”

He disclosed that the Olympians had also given a good number of suggestions to improve the weaker areas of the national team but the PHF did not bother to heed them and went on to issue legal notices to disgrace the Olympians.

Dawn



Matches against Aussies and Dutch will decide final squad for qualifier

By S. RAMAGURU


KUALA LUMPUR: The national hockey squad leave for Perth today for their five-match workout that will decide the final team for the Olympic qualifier in Dublin in March.

The 21-man squad face a testing time as four of those matches are against world champions Australia and the other against Holland.

Although three players will be dropped after the tour, the final 18 are unlikely to be named until just before the team leave for Europe on Feb 28.

National coach Tai Beng Hai said the selection process has been an on-going exercise but the matches in Perth will effectively decide the final squad.

“All the tournaments last year were part of our selection process. But these five matches serve as the final audition for the players. All 21 of them will have a chance to show us why they deserve a place in the team,’ said Beng Hai.

The team management already have a good idea of the composition of the team and the tour Down Under is to give one or two fringe players a chance to state their case for inclusion.

Beng Hai said he would focus on team work and combination play during the friendlies in Perth.

“We want to try out players in different positions and see how well they combine with each other. The core players are already in place. Now, we must ensure that the reserves we take to Dublin will be able to fit in nicely,” he said.

The 16 players who featured in the 2010 Asian Games silver medal winning squad are almost certain to retain their places, leaving the five who came in after the Asiad to fight for the remaining two spots.

They are national juniors Amir Farid, Fitri Saari, Mohd Firhan Azhaari, Mohd Izzat Rahim and veteran Kelvinder Singh, who was injured for most of 2010.

Kelvinder may have the experience but there is a big question mark over his fitness.

Firhan and Izaat look likely to grab the last two slots. But they had better not take it easy in Perth as the other three will be giving it their all as well.

The Star of Malaysia



Shahril eyes elusive MJHL top scorer’s award

By AFTAR SINGH



On a mission: Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School–Thunderbolt forward Mohd Shahril Saabah (centre) missed out on the top scorer’s award by three goals last year.

KUALA LUMPUR: Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School-Thunderbolt forward Mohd Shahril Saabah was gutted when he failed to bag the top scorer’s award in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) last season despite plundering 15 goals.

The award went to Universiti Kuala Lumpur’s (UniKL) defender Mohd Zulhairi Hashim, who bagged 18 penalty corner goals.

So Shahril is on a mission to grab the coveted award in the Under-19 tournament this year.

Shahril, who turns 18 on March 28, has scored three field goals so far in Thunderbolt’s 7-1 trouncing of SSTMI 7-1 and 5-1 whipping of five-time double champions Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).

“I scored in all our matches last year – seven field goals and eight from penalty corners – but I still lost the top scorer’s award to Zulhairi.

“But I’m confident I can win it this year because Zulhairi is no longer eligible to play in the MJHL,” said the Project 2013 squad trainee, who is hugely disappointed at not winning an individual award despite having played in the MJHL since 2007.

Defending overall champions SSTMI-Thunderbolt and reigning league champions UniKL are leading the competition with six points each after two matches.

Thunderbolt, who top the standings on goal difference, are expected to go on another scoring spree against minnows BJSS Juniors at the Education Ministry Turf today.

BJSS Juniors have been the whipping boys in Division One, having scored just one goal and conceding 11 so far.

Shahril, who played for Malaysia in the Four-Nation Under-16 tournament in Germany in 2010, said he plans to score in every match.

“I may have scored three goals in the first two matches but I can do better. I need to be more accurate in my finishing and hope to bag my first hat-trick – hopefully against BJSS Juniors,” he said.

“I also aim to help my team win their first-ever double this year.”

SSTMI-Thunderbolt won the league title in 2010 but lost the overall crown to UniKL. Last year, they lost the league title to UniKL but beat the university team in the final for the overall championship.

The Star of Malaysia