All the news for Saturday 27 December 2008
E&Y poised to end long wait
By Ajitpal Singh
ERNST & Young are awesome and look good to win their first ever Malaysian Hockey League (MHL)-TNB Cup title by beating Sapura in the final at the KLHA Stadium in Pantai today.
It will be their seventh appearance in the final since making their debut in 1998 and E&Y won't get a better chance to break the jinx of never having won the overall title.
Added motivation should be the fact that Sapura have beaten them twice before in the overall final.
Sapura defeated E&Y 1-0 in the 2005 final and a year later, retained the overall title by winning 3-2 on penalties.
E&Y, powered by 13 national players, are in deadly mood and this will challenge the experienced Sapura defence.
E&Y are in no mood to be disappointed again and a triumph today will mean the double as they also won the league title.
The E&Y strikeforce is impressive as internationals Tengku Ahmad Tajudin Tengku Abdul Jalil, Chua Boon Huat and Kevinder Singh are ably supported by Misron siblings, Azlan and Azli and Amerullah Aziz.
E&Y defender Baljit Singh Sarjab is also in the running for the MHL top scorer award.
The 21-year-old, who has 36 caps to his credit, has scored 12 penalty corner goals.
Sapura's defence is led by the experienced Maninderjit Singh and he has to galvanise his troops for what will be a tough final.
A boost for Sapura is that S.Kuhan is expected to start after overcoming an ankle injury suffered in the semi-final second leg match against Tenaga Nasional.
Sapura will be counting on South Koreans Song Seung Tae and Kim Jung Chul for goals while K.Keevan Raj and Mohan siblings, Jiwa and Jivan will be expected to control the midfield.
E&Y coach Muhd Dharma Raj Abdullah is expecting a close game.
"It is the final and the team that take their chances will win. That's why I hope my players will not waste chances."
Sapura coach K. Enbaraj also expects a close contest and is hoping his players rise to the occasion.
The final will be beamed live on Astro's channel 811.
Today's MHL-TNB Cup fixtures -- third placing: Tenaga Nasional v Maybank (3pm); Final: Ernst & Young v Sapura (5.30pm).
(Both matches at the KLHA Stadium, Jalan Pantai).
New Straits Times
Ernst and Young out to discard their bridesmaid tag
By S. RAMAGURU
KUALA LUMPUR: One team will be out to bag the elusive overall title while the other are keen to to re-establish their credentials as the country’s top hockey club in today’s Malaysia Hockey League final.
Finalists Ernst and Young (E&Y) and Sapura have the best available talents in Malaysians hockey but it would not mean an entertaining final.
E&Y will be playing in their sixth consecutive final and have yet to get the mix to win.
Sapura, winners in 2005 and 2006, have a team of aging stars but have shown they still have what it takes to be at the top.
Thus the final could be a classic affair with good hockey or a dull game with a solitary goal separating the winner.
Playing bridesmaid on seven occasions (they were also in the 2001 final) can affect the morale of any team. So for today’s final, E&Y’s fight will not be just with their opponents but themselves.
Their team manager George Koshy said E&Y have what it takes to win but pointed out that coming out with that little extra in the final has been the missing ingredient.
He is convinced that the players marching out for the final will be aware of the pitfalls and will be better prepared for the challenge.
“I do not see what more we could have done in the past. Surely over the years we have got better and I believe the players are capable of winning the title.
“But having said that I also acknowledge that our form in the knock-out stage had been far from being convincing. We are lucky to be in the final and we must make good use of the chances that have come our way to grab the overall title,” said Koshy.
In the preliminary round Ernst and Young had beaten Sapura twice.
Sapura coach K. Embaraj has dismissed those results saying the final will be a different ball game.
“For me it is simply the better team on the day will triumph. Everything comes down to the next 70 minutes and just one mistake is all it takes to be a winner or a loser.
“Both sides have experienced players and this battle could go all way,” said Embaraj.
Tactics will be crucial and both teams may well start off cautiously before pushing up for the goals.
Sapura of late have been more adventurous with their moves and their speed play has provided them with crucial wins.
But E&Y have the ability to click as a team but their biggest flaw lies with their inability to convert their chances.
They have a strike force full of internationals — Chua Boon Huat, Ismail Abu, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Azlan Misron — on their day can sizzle. But they have not been that effective thus far. They also have other young strikers like Craig Fernandez, Nabil Fiqri, Mohamed Amerullah and Azli Misron.
But the players who could turn the match around for them is either Mohamed Razie or Baljit Singh who specialise in penalty corner flicks.
Sapura’s top penalty corner specialist S. Kuhan is a doubtful starter but they have in Jiwa Mohan a capable replacement for the set-piece moves. Further more their South Korean important Song Seong-tae and Kim Jung-chul have fitted in well and are capable of delivering the goals.
This is a match where there is no shortage of star players to chart their team’s fortunes in the final.
But it could be dull affair if these players do not rise to the occasion. There is ample motivation to win and as Koshy aptly puts it the players must have the hunger to win.
The Star of Malaysia
MHF plan to set up single league structure
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) competitions committee will begin the process of merging the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) with the Junior league for next year today.
The proposal to create a single league structure in Malaysian hockey will mean that the junior and senior leagues will be run simultaneously and over a longer period of time.
All the state competitions secretaries will attend the meeting and a time limit is expected to be set to move their proposal forward.
States are expected to provide the feedback on the move and also to gauge their respective affiliates’ reaction to the merger.
With the MHL ending today the competitions committee want to start the next league in February. However, the committee should consider the fact of rushing to make the move without taking into consideration the implication of a single league.
Most of the teams in the MHL and the Junior League are basically Klang Valley teams. Thus creating a single league would mean nothing if the other states do not put up a team.
For example, in Division One of the MHL, Nur Insafi from Penang, are the only non-Klang Valley team. And in Division Two four teams are from outside the Klang Valley. To have a truly national league the committee must look at ensuring greater participation from the states.
The idea of a single league has received the thumbs up from the MHL clubs and this will help the committee to forge ahead smoothly.
The issue of junior players being deprived of playing in the senior league also does not hold water as only 21 players were in the Under-19 age category in Division One. And 15 of them played for the national juniors in Division One.
In Division Two, 64 players were in the Under-19 age category with 22 from the Bandar Penawar Sports School and 21 from Bukit Jalil Sports School. These teams however will play at the junior level which means they may be playing in Division Three or Four of the proposed new league. The other categories in the new league will mostly likely be called Premier, Division One and Division Two.
As the committee mull over the proposal they must also give thought to their calendar for next year as the national team and the national juniors have their plate full in the first six months.
The Star of Malaysia
Indo-Pak hockey is not advisable at the moment: Ad-hoc committee
NEW DELHI: Terming Pakistan's decision to pull out of the four-nation hockey tournament in India as 'expected one', the Indian Olympic Association appointed ad-hoc said in current scenario playing hockey with Pakistan was not at all advisable.
Pakistan was scheduled to take part in a four-nation hockey event to be played in Chandigarh and Jalandhar next February invloving Netherlands, Germany and hosts India as the other teams.
However, in-a-tit-for-tat response, Pakistan governement has hinted that it will not send its national team for the tournament after India shunned their cricket tour following last month's Mumbai terror attacks that killed nearly 180 people.
Confirming that Pakistan has opted out of the tournament, IOA President and ad-hoc committe Chairman, Suresh Kalmadi said, the organisers would be roping in another foreign team in place of Pakistan.
"Pakistan is not playing . We are in process of inviting another foreign team, " Kalmadi said.
Asked whether the withdrawl came as a shock to the ad-hoc committee, he replied in negative.
"It was not at all shocking. In fact it was expected move. We did not send our junior team there in November due to security concerns. I think we have to wait till the things cool down. In present circumstanses we should not tour Pakistan or vise versa." he said.
Former Olympians Aslam Sher Khan and Dhanraj Pillay, who are also members of Indian hockey's ad-hoc selection committee, opined that the present tension between the two countries will definitely have an impact on biliteral sporting ties .
"Pakistan is saying that it is highly unlikely that the governement would allow sportspersons to visit India for international events. I think we should not invite them either. We must not play hockey with Pakistan for the time being." said Pillay.
Aslam said there is no security concern in India and it has been proved with the English cricket team's recent test tour.
"We did not send our junior hockey team to Pakistan as there were genuine security concerns. Although it is not the case in India.
"If India is unsafe it is due to Pakistan only. Pakistani terrorists are killing our people. Pakistan still need proof while the terrorist himself is saying that he is a Pakistani. Life of our countrymen is the topmost priority, sports can take backseat." he said.
Aslam, however, feels that lack of Indo-Pak hockey was not good for the sport in both the countries, while Kalmadi and Pillay believe that in short term it will not affect.
The Times of India
Pakistan pullout was expected: Kalmadi
New Delhi, Dec. 26: Terming Pakistan’s decision to pull out of the four-nation hockey tournament in India as an ‘expected one’, the Indian Olympic Association-appointed ad-hoc committee said in the current scenario playing hockey with Pakistan was not advisable.
Pakistan were scheduled to take part in a four-nation hockey event to be played in Chandigarh next February involving the Netherlands, Germany and hosts India as the other teams.
However, the Pakistan government has said that it will not send its national team for the tournament after India pulled out of their the cricket tour following last month’s Mumbai terror attacks that killed nearly 180 people.
Confirming that Pakistan had opted out of the tournament, IOA president and ad-hoc committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi said the organisers would look to rope in another foreign team in place of Pakistan.
"Pakistan are not playing . We are in the process of inviting another foreign team," Kalmadi said.
The Asian Age
Arjun, Vinaya, Vikram, Deepak, Hari, grand comeback
Heroes of the last golden patch Indian hockey has had -- that was when India won four out of six tournaments including the first ever Asia Cup in 2003 - have been recalled. Premier Hockey League hero Arjun Halappa, workhorse Vikram Pillay -- he must be happy his younger brother Vikas also made the cut -- Vinaya, Hari Prasad, Deepak Thakur are back in the reckoning.
Giving a semblance of activity, which was conspicuous for its absence, the Ad-hoc Committee running the hockey affairs in the country has announced the team for the Punjab Gold Cup to be held in Jalandhar late next month.
Ravi Pal Singh
Gurvinder Singh Chandi
Osaf ur Rehman
Harendra Singh (Coach in Charge)
Ramandeep Singh (Coach)
Romeo James (Coach)
Srikant Iyengar (Physiotherapist)
M.V. Mathai (Trainer)
Pillay the lone new face
NEW DELHI: Vikas Pillay, a promising midfielder, is the lone new face in the 22-member Indian hockey team that will tour Argentina and also participate in the four-nation Punjab Gold Cup to be held at Chandigarh from January 31 to February 9.
India will play four Tests against Argentina at Mar del Plata on January 18, 19, 21 and 22 and the team would be then pruned to 18 for the Gold Cup.
Goalkeepers: Baljit Singh, Adrian D’Souza; Full Backs: Dilip Tirkey, Sandeep Singh, V. Raghunath; Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, V.S. Vinaya, Sardar Singh, Vikram Pillay, Prabodh Tirkey, Vikas Pillay; Forwards: Rajpal Singh, Tushar Khandkar, Prabhjot Singh, Deepak Thakur, Bharat Chhikara, Arjun Halappa, Shivendra Singh, S.V. Sunil, Ravi Pal Singh, Sarwanjit Singh and Hari Prasad.
Standbys: P.R. Sreejesh, Bharat Chetri, William Xalco, Samir Baxla, Ajitesh Rai, Ignace Tirkey, Senthil Kumar, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Birender Lakra, Bikas Toppo, Roshan Minz and Osaf ur Rehman
Officials: Harendra Singh (Coach in Charge), Ramandeep Singh (Coach), Romeo James (Coach), Srikant Iyengar (Physiotherapist) and M.V. Mathai (Trainer).
Thakur, Halappa back in squad
By OUR CORRESPONDENT
New Delhi - Dec. 26: Out of action for the last eight months, the Indian hockey team will finally get some much-needed match-play as they prepare for a four-match test series against Argentina early next year.
The Indian Olympic Association’s ad-hoc committee on Friday picked a 22-member team for the India-Argentina series, and the double leg four-nation Punjab Gold Cup that follows in Chandigarh.
The shortlist sees the return of striker Deepak Thakur, as also midfielders Arjuna Halappa, and V.S. Vinaya, who often found themselves out of favour dring the K.P.S. Gill-regime.
Said coach Harendra Singh from Bhopal, "The boys are shaping up well. The trials were held during the last two days under the watchful eyes of the selectors.
"It is time to begin afresh for everyone associated with Indian hockey. The team is a perfect mix of youngsters and seasoned players. We have ensured that fit and in-form players were selected," he said.
The squad will leave for Argentina on January 11 and will play four tests at Mar de Plata, a city located in the Buenos Aires province. The tests will be held on January 18, 19, 21 and 22.
India will then take on Germany and the Netherlands in the Punjab Gold Cup from January 31.
The ad-hoc committee is yet to decide on the fourth team, after the Pakistan central government refused to send their team owing to the strained relations between the two nations.
Goalkeepers: Baljit Singh, Adrian D’Souza
Fullbacks: Dilip Tirkey, Sandeep Singh, V. Raghunath
Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, V.S. Vinaya, Sardar Singh, Vikram Pillay, Prabodh Tirkey, Vikas Pillay
Forwards: Rajpal Singh, Tushar Khandker, Prabhjot Singh, Deepak Thakur, Bharat Chhikara, Arjun Halappa, Shivendra Singh, S.V. Sunil, Ravi Pal Singh, Sarwanjit Singh, Hari Prasad
Standbyes: P.R. Sreejesh, Bharat Chetri, William Xalxo, Samir Baxla, Ajitesh Rai, Ignace Tirkey, Senthil Kumar, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Birender Lakra, Bikas Toppo, Roshan Minz, Osaf ur Rehman
The Asian Age
Indian squad named for Punjab Gold Cup
NEW DELHI: The ad-hoc committee of the Indian Olympic Association on Friday announced the senior national hockey squad for next year's four-nation double-leg Punjab Gold Cup hockey tournament.
The squad was picked following trials held in Bhopal. India will take on Germany, the Netherlands and another team from abroad in the Punjab Gold Cup to be held in Chandigarh and Jalandhar from January 31 to February 9.
Prior to that, the team could also play an away series. Efforts are on to line up Argentina as preparation for the Punjab Gold Cup tournament, but in case they back out, South Africa and Malaysia are the other options being looked into by the ad-hoc committee.
A series against New Zealand is also on the pipeline after the Gold Cup following which the performance of the present squad would be reviewed.
Squad: Goalkeepers: Baljit Singh, Adrian D'Souza. Fullbacks: Dilip Tirkey, Sandeep Singh, V Raghunath. Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, VS Vinaya, Sardara Singh, Vikram Pillay, Prabodh Tirkey, Vikas Pillay.
Forwards: Rajpal Singh, Tushar Khandekar, Prabhjot Singh, Deepak Thakur, Bharat Chhikara, Arjun Halappa, Shivendra Singh, SV Sunil, Ravi Pal Singh, Sarwanjit Singh, Hari Prasad.
Standbyes: PR Sreejesh, Bharat Chetri, William Xalxo, Samir Baxla, Ajitesh Rai, Ignace Tirkey, Senthil Kumar, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Birender Lakra, Bikas Toppo, Roshan Minz, Osaf ur Rehman.
Officials: Harendra Singh (coach in charge); Ramandeep Singh (coach); Romeo James (coach); Srikant Iyengar (physiotherapist); MV Mathai (trainer).
The Times of India
Beighton Cup from today
KOLKATA: The all-India Beighton Cup hockey tournament, normally held in March-April, will be played in peak winter this year at the SAI grounds from Saturday. The final of the 113th edition will be on Jan. 9.
The winner of the Beighton Cup will get Rs. 1.25 lakh, while the runner-up gets Rs. 75,000.
BSF, EME, Punjab cops in last 4
Nabha, December 26 - Jalandhar based outfits made hay under a bright sun with three of them reaching the last four stage of the 33rd All India Liberals hockey tournament played at the Ripudaman college grounds here today.
The Jalandhar based teams which made the last four cut were holders BSF who quelled a forceful challenge put up by the high flying Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Patiala 2-1, EME who sunk the aspirations of a lacklustre Northern railway 2-1 and Punjab Police who downed Corps of Signals 3-1. The only non-Jalandhar team to make the semi-final stage was CISF, New Delhi who downed Namdhari XI 1-0.
BSF started off strongly with Marilas Lakra putting the team ahead with a stunner. The smooth flowing Lakra collected a loose ball from the half line and after deftly making his way past as many as six players found himself in a one-to-one situation with goalkeeper Rajpal Singh.
Showing tremendous physical agility, Lakra body feigned his way past the keeper and caressed the ball home.
PSEB started using the wings more effectively and both left in Harpreet Singh and left out Manbir Singh created enough space upfront for their strikers to move freely.
However, the BSF defence stood as rock with custodian Major Singh saving the team the blushes on many occasions.
BSF finally managed to take the lead through Varinderjit Singh who scored off a penalty stroke awarded to the eventual winners after a PSEB player fouled striker Peter Tirkey just as he was to score. Once the security men had a one goal cushion they steadfastly hung on to the lead to beat PSEB 2-1.
A shameful Year for Indian Hockey
By Saumojyoti Singha Choudhury
Between national men team's failure to qualify for Olympics for the first time in 80 years to the infamous cash-for-selection scandal, the year gone by witnessed Indian hockey's transition from bad to worse.
India's failure in the international circuit, controversies and administrative goof-ups dominated the year 2008 which has very little to show except a few stellar performances by the junior men.
However, the incident which shattered every Indian's heart was the eight-time Olympic champions' failure to qualify for Beijing Games after losing to Britain in the final of a qualifying event in Santiago, Chile.
The women's team also followed suit and missed their bus to Beijing, thereby leaving India, once powerhouse of world hockey, unrepresented in the Olympics.
After the Santiago debacle, every citizen thought that it would be redemption time for the national game, but instead of working together towards regaining the lost glory of the sport, people sitting at the helm of affairs started a blame game with most of brunt falling on an autocratic then Indian Hockey Federation Chief KPS Gill.
Coach Joaquim Carvalho's was the first head to roll, followed by IHF vice-president Narendra Batra, who voluntarily resigned, but a stubborn Gill refused to step down or own the responsibility.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA), who is presently handling the hockey affairs in the country, also came out strongly in support of under-fire Gill, saying that the "man-hunt" will not help change the fortunes of the game and the setback at the Olympic qualifiers should be seen as a wake-up call. PTI
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