Friday, October 30, 2009


Best Motion Picture of the Year

Clear winner, the Management Committee for their manner in leading the President or rather mis-leading the President on how to govern the sport.

Achievement in Directing

The National Sports Council for millions they have spent yet nothing achieved in hockey.

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Deputy President for calling the national coach a coward and taking hockey fans for a ride.

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Hon. Secretary for working hand in hand with Deputy President

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

The comical aspects during the Coaching Committee Meting where Chairman quit and returned within minutes.

Original Screenplay

We will qualify for the World Cup, left to be seen but highly unlikely

Adapted Screenplay

Winds of Change - but somehow no wind blew and its status quo, be it the last Committee or the current one.

Best Foreign Language Film

When we played against foreign clubs to prepare for the Champions Challenge

Achievement in Art Direction

By forming committees that have not met since December last year, Wawasan and Consultative Committee

Achievement in Cinematography

Stating that MHL will be shown live but ommitting facts that ESPN wants RM3 million for it

Achievement in Costume Design

The lop sided deal that resulted in them buying attire rather then sponsorship

Best Documentary FeatureBest Documentary Short Subject

When drinking is okay but being seen in gaming centre required Gestapo to cull a good player

Achievement in Film Editing

By not adhering to the Constitution in forming Committees

Achievement in Makeup

By altering list of players that played in the final test match against Australia

Best Animated Short Film

Calling for interviews for GM position when candidate decided two months earlier

Best Live Action Short

Failing to close accounts of the company formed together with Singapore to host Junior World Cup

Achievement in Sound

National Coach, for repeating he is Interim Coach, and its 10 months

Achievement in Visual Effects

For the Wayang Kulit put up ever since the clamour for change started last year

Thursday, October 29, 2009


No percipient observer will venture to look beyond China as the favourite for the seventh Asia Cup hockey championship for women starting on Thursday.

True, China is not starting the event as the defending champion, the honour goes to Japan, but its credentials as the super power in the continent were established beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt at the Beijing Olympia, where the home team picked up a silver medal stretching the Netherlands in the final.

China is all set to stamp out the apprehension that arose after its miserable show in the last World Cup at Madrid (the team finished a surprising ninth) and the defeat sustained against Japan in the last edition in 2007.

Not only China will leave nothing to chance to regain the Cup, but, more importantly, it will strive to capture one of the two automatic berths for the next World Cup to come off at Rosario (Argentina) next year.

At Bangkok, China is placed in pool B along with India, former champion, and the two are expected to make the grade to last four.

Put on boards in Seoul in 1985, the women’s Asia Cup has traversed a long course to project an identity of its won as the qualifying event for the World Cup. Korea has a shining record, winning three of the six editions (1985, 1993 and 1999), but the emergence of China and Japan as key constituents has pushed Korea down the hill to some extent. Now, Korea has to ward off a strong challenge from Japan, the holder, in Pool B.

It will be imprudent to dismiss India’s role in the event as uneventful. India won the eight-nation competition in 2004 on the home turf under the leadership of Surajlata Devi with M.K. Kaushik as the chief coach.

Happily, Kaushik continues to be in the same role at the venue that should bring him pleasant memories of a gold medal win with the men’s team in the 1998 Asian Games.

India needs attention

Recent events lend hope to India attracting more than the usual attention this time. Not only has the team been well prepared for the challenge, but also shown results, notable one being the victory at the Champions Challenge II at Kazan.

No less than five players in the present squad have more than 100 international caps, the topper being Surinder Kaur with 189 international appearances.

Mamta Kharb, whose rise to fame came with the golden goal scored against England in the Commonwealth Games at Manchester in 2002, and the sharp attacker, Saba Anjum, constitute the striking force with Ritu Rani and Rani Rampaul rearing to go and prove their mettle. Rampaul, it must be recalled was the top scorer at Kazan.

Mid-fielder Asunta Lakra (sister of men’s international Brijendera Lakra) and defender Binita Toppo, have enough international exposure as does the goal-keeper Dipika Murty whose tally caps stands at 123.

11 teams in fray

Apart from the significance of being the denominator to identify the World Cup qualifier, the event also marks, for the first time, the number of teams competing entering double figures. There are now a total of 11 teams in the fray. While the top two will make the grade for next year’s World Cup, the teams placed in third, fourth and fifth positions are to compete in the three pre-world cup qualifiers to be held between January to April in 2010. .

The Pools:

A: China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

B: Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea and Sri Lanka.

Thursday’s matches: Japan v Kazakhstan (12-30 p.m. IST), Korea v Sri Lanka (2-30 p.m.); Malaysia v Thailand (3 p.m.); India v Singapore (5 p.m.)


Black Sticks men's hockey coach Shane McLeod expects China to pose the biggest threat to his side at next week's World Cup qualifying tournament in Invercargill.

New Zealand and five other nations will battle it out on the Turnbull Thomson Park turf, with just the winner progressing to next year's men's Hockey World Cup in India.

Tournaments are also being contested in France and Argentina, around the same time, to determine the other two remaining World Cup qualifying spots.

China – ranked 13th in the world – ruined the Black Sticks' chances of qualifying for the medal round at the Beijing Olympics last year when they held them to a 2-all draw.

McLeod said the Chinese side did not tour much, which made them an unknown quantity ahead of the tournament.

"China will be difficult. It's very hard getting footage of them ...

"It's one of those situations. We tend to do well against teams we know well and play often."

The other sides at the Invercargill tournament – which begins on Saturday, November 7, will be Malaysia (ranked 16th in the world), Austria (20th), Scotland (24th), and Wales (29th). New Zealand is ranked eighth.

They should have no trouble getting information on the Malaysians, with the Black Sticks having played the Southeast Asian country in a five-match series in August in the leadup to the Oceania Cup. The Black Sticks won that series 3-nil, with two draws.

One of the surprise packages could be Austria, who have improved drastically in recent times. The Austrians finished seventh at the European Nations Cup in August and include some notable indoor hockey players.

New Zealand will warm up for the tournament with a three-match series against the Junior Black Sticks in North Harbour, beginning tonight.

Those games should be ideal preparation for the Black Sticks, with McLeod still weighing up a couple of positions in his 18-man squad for the qualifying tournament.

He said he was happy with the way the side was shaping up, with its European-based players having all returned to New Zealand.

The Black Sticks were forced to enter the qualifying tournament after losing the Oceania Cup final to Australia in August.

McLeod wanted to see his team creating more penalty corner opportunities on attack in Invercargill.

"We want to make sure our penalty corner works well. We've got a world-class penalty corner unit."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Going by what "interim" (as how he describes his position) coach Tai Beng Hai said was the best available team for the World Cup Qualifiers, then Malaysian hockey fans are left with no alternative but place our hopes in the hands of god to grant us a place in the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi.

Beng Hai was asked during the post match press conference last Monday as to when the public could see his probable team take the field against the visiting Aussie second stringers, and he answered sometime during the week.

And that question was repeated during the post match press conference after the final Test Match on Sunday, and Beng Hai's reply was his team was fielded in either the second or third Test Match.

So Malaysian Hockey went through the list of players fielded in all the matches, compared to the final list of 18 players selected for the qualifiers and the team that played the second Test Match comprised of 16 players that made the final 18, with the exception of keeper S. Kumar and Mohd Marhan.

Let the record show that we lost that match 5-1, our worst defeat in the five Test Matches. But since it is his head on the chopping block, we will not question his decision, albeit for one.

The decision to drop S. Baljit Singh (by the way a local daily got his pic mixed up with the other Baljit who made the final squad and is from Ipoh), is somewhat questionable. He played four out of the five matches and besides Mohd Amin Rahim, Baljit is the only direct flicker off a penalty corner that was in the final 25.

Should anything happen to Amin, we are an open textbook during the qualifiers as the opponents also realise what options are open to the Malaysian team should Amin be injured.

Below is the tem list for all the five matches played against the Aussies. Names in bold are players who made the final 18.

First Test Team

Khairulnizam, S. Baljit, Amin, Marhan, Selvaraju, Madzli, Faisal, Shahrun Nabil, Sukri, Azlan, Jiwa, Razie, Mohd Noor Khairul, C. Baljit, Tengku Ahmad, Nabil Fiqri

Second Test Team

Khairulnizam, Ahmad Kazamirul, Amin, Selvaraju, Madzli, Faisal, Shahrun Nabil, Sukri, Azlan, Jiwa, C. Baljit, Tengku Ahmad, Nabil Fiqri, Jivan Mohan, Kelvinder, Razie

Third Test Team

S. Baljit, Amin, Selvaraju, Madzli, Faisal, Shahrun Nabil, Sukri, Azlan, Jiwa, C. Baljit, Tengku Ahmad, Nabil Fiqri, Jivan Mohan, Kelvinder, Razie, Mohd Abul Hakim

Fourth Test Team

S. Baljit, Selvaraju, Madzli, Faisal, Sukri, Azlan, Jiwa, C. Baljit,Nabil Fiqri, Jivan Mohan, Kelvinder, Kumar, Ahmad Kazamirul, Mohd Nor Khairul, Mohd Amirullah, Marhan

Fifth Test Match

S. Baljit, Selvaraju, Madzli, Faisal, Sukri, Azlan, Jiwa, Nabil Fiqri, Kelvinder, Kumar, Ahmad Kazamirul, Mohd Nor Khairul, Mohd Amirullah, Marhan, Harvinder. Amin

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Malaysian number one custodian, S. Kumar could not have asked for a better tribute for Australian coach Ric Charlesworth named him as one of the top, if not the top goalkeepers in the world at the moment.

"Your goalkeeper is by my ranking the best keeper in the world and he is the one that keeps the team alive in matches,"said Charlesworth after watching Kumar put on a speldid display in holding the Aussies to a 2-2 draw in the final test match.

Ï have seen him play and he is fantastic in goal and could well make the difference for your team.

The Tampin born keeper has been the mainstay of the Malaysian team for several years after been given the break by former Malaysian coach Paul Lissek.

I am using the experience gained all these years and Lissek was instrumental in providing me with the finer tips of goalkeeping and I am grateful,"said the modest Kumar.

I will do my best to help the team in the qualifiers as we have a young team but we will do our best.


Below is the final list of 18 players selected to carry the Malaysian challenge for the World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand next month. The team was named after the completion of the 5 Test Matches against Australia.

S. Kumar, Khairulnizam Ibrahim, Mohd Amin Rahim, Jiwa Mohan, S.Selvaraju, Mohd Madzli Ikmar, Faisal Saari, Mohd Sharun Nabil, Mohd Shukri Mutalib, Azlan Misron, Jivan Mohan, Mohd Razie Abd Rahim, Kelvinder Singh, C. Baljit Singh, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Nabil Fiqri Mohd Nor, Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil, Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin.

The two reserves are S.Baljit Singh and Mohammad Amerullah.


Perhaps Tai Beng Hai should have a long hard look at his selection of players for the New Zealand World Cup Qualifiers after a young Malaysian side held the Australians to a 2-2 draw in the fifth and final Test Match at the Tun Razak Stadium.

The youngsters gave a good account of themselves to match the Aussies blow for blow and were unlucky not to have pulled off a win.

The hosts opted to play four players who were not selected into the final 18 of the World Cup Qualifier bound team. Those who played for the first time was Harvinder Singh, Mohd Nor Khairul, while Mohd Amirullah and Ahmad Kazamirul played their second match but failed to make the cut.

If there is one area that should concern Beng Hai, then it must be the number of penalty corners conceded as Australia had 12 and really could have done better with their conversion rate.

Australia took the lead in the 11th minute through Brett Dancer but Mohd Amin Rahim made good of Malaysia's second penalty corner three minutes later.

The Malaysians took the lead, for the first time in five matches, in the 47th minute with Azlan Misron finishing off a neat set piece from a penalty corner.

However the lead lasted for six minutes as the Aussies stepped up a gear and found the equaliser in the 53rd minute via David Guest, also from a penalty corner deflection that caught keeper S. Kumar off guard.


Former Yayasan Negri Sembilan player, Olympian and former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh has been nominated general secretary of the newly formed 'Hockey Punjab'.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the state's sports minister, was unanimously elected president of Hockey Punjab and he named Pargat Singh, a Padma Shri awardee, as general secretary Tuesday.

Four hockey federations - including Punjab Hockey Association (for both men and women) and the Pepsu Hockey Association (for both men and women)- have been brought under the umbrella of Hockey Punjab.

Pargat Singh in February this year had successfully organised the Punjab Gold Cup hockey tournament in Chandigarh, in which international teams like Germany and the Netherlands had also participated alongwith India.

Following the directives of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the International Hockey Federation (IHF), various hockey associations of Punjab were merged together to form an integrated organisation Hockey Punjab, a few weeks back.

The importance of Hockey Punjab can be gauged from the fact that Punjab is one of the first states to follow the directives of supreme body.

Badal also nominated other members of Hockey Punjab, which has been formulated to promote the national sport in this state that has produced exceptional talent.

Akali Dal leader Bikramjit Singh Majithia and Punjab's Director General of Police P.S. Gill were elected senior vice-presidents of the panel. Six vice-presidents, one treasurer, four joint secretaries and six executive committee members were also nominated on the Hockey Punjab panel.

Selection committee, for both men and women, media committee, umpiring committee and coaching penal was also selected by Badal.


To get to Hockey New Zealand headquarters in Auckland, you first have to travel to a swathe of industrial land next to the new motorway in the shadow of Mt Roskill.

It's a locale that tells you pretty much all you need to know about a sport that has had to cut back on its spending after government funding agency Sparc sent hockey away from the top table and made it beg for the scraps known as contestable funding.

Hockey has ambitions of one day moving out of the spartan surrounds and into something more corporate. More importantly, within the next few weeks it also hopes to move out of the funding wasteland on the back of outstanding results delivered by the women's team in winning the Champions Challenge in South Africa this month.

Hockey will sit down with Sparc this week to make a plea for more funding for the women's team for next year on the basis it will contest the prestigious six-team Champions Trophy, the 12-team world cup and the Commonwealth Games, where coach Mark Hager is targeting a medal.

To get the most out of those big three tournaments that come in the second half of 2010, Hager says the youthful women's team needs to play plenty of tournaments in the first half of the year and to do that requires an increase in funding.

"If we get what's on our wish list we can plan the first six months of the year. We've got three big events in the second half of next year but now countries are chasing us to play them," Hager says, adding that the Black Sticks have been invited to play a against the Netherlands and China in a Hong Kong tournament, that Japan wants New Zealand to tour there and there are similar calls from South Africa.

"But unless we have that funding we can't do it. We'll put a proposal up and say this is the budget for our wish list and we have to see whether they're prepared to give it to us."

For Hager, who came here from Perth, that would be a massive boost after he took over as the national women's coach just as funding was cut back. He also inherited a team shorn of experience after many senior players quit post-Beijing Olympics. That turned out to be a positive, however.

"It was good luck rather than good management that a few of the older players moved on as it forced us to pick the young up-and-comers; we had no choice but to go to the next group of kids.

"I had a philosophy of an attacking style and I then had to find out what sort of style of players we had; fortunately my style of coaching complemented the the type of players we had - particularly in the forward line where we're now creating a lot of chances and scoring lots of goals."

That was evident at the second tier Champions Challenge tournament, which New Zealand won, earning promotion to the elite top-six Champions Trophy next year.

HAGER, AS a former Olympian and a former Australia women's assistant coach, is well aware of what awaits his young team next year in England.

"We've stepped out of the minors into the big league and I'm sure we'll get questioned, and punished maybe, in some games but until we play at this level we're not going to know what we're capable of."

He says his team is high on raw ability but are still developing their structure and tactical nous.

"When I first got here I was really impressed with the skill level, and the forwards in particular were in front of Australia. But they hadn't learned tactically how to play at international level.

"Every time we play someone now we vary our structure a little bit and they seem to be adapting well but there's such a gap between tours for us that we have to revisit the structure every time because people forget."

Next year's world cup will be big event for the Black Sticks: if they can score a top-eight finish players will be eligible for individual funding from Sparc, starting at $20,000 each if they can finish at least eighth.

"At the moment they are doing it for love and because they're passionate but to give them some financial assistance would be great."

At this point, it's suggested to Hager that the relative youth of the team is bonus when it comes to financial support.

"You're right; they don't know any better because most of them have come into a system where there's no money. It's not like you've given the baby the dummy and then taken it away again."


Malaysia went down 3-1 against Australia in their 4th Test Match at the Tun Razak Stadium.

It was the third defeat for the World Cup Qualifiers bound Malaysians after the first two matches went in favour of the Aussies with scorelines of 3-1 and 5-1 respectively. The third match ended in a 3-3 draw on Thursday in Kuantan.

The final test will be played on Sunday and though the series have been won by the Aussies, the players will have 70 minutes to convince coach Tai Beng Hai that they are deserving of being on the flight to New Zealand.

But the performances of some of the younger players in the team was praised by National Sports Council Director General Dato Zolkples Embong.

Zolkples, just like previous NSC DG Dato Wira Mazlan Ahmad, has a soft spot for hockey and adopts a hands on approach for hockey since he was the Director of Management itself.

"The players need to improve on their fitness and speed. But what I would like to see more is for them to stay focussed and concentrate throught the match," said Zolkples after watching the match.

"They still tend to make silly errors and stray passes. And the must be confident to take a chance inside the D.

"Another aspect is that they must be quick in recovery especially when they lose the ball. Australia played close marking so players must be fast and should always open up their game to make it easier for team mates to pass the ball.

"What we need is for players to be more creative and more brave inside D so that we can win penalty corners."

Zolkples however was concerned on the performances of the midfielders.

"What we lack is a good play maker and good distributor of the ball," contends Zolkples.

And he hopes that the experienced Jiwa Mohan will be able to play this role effectively.

"I am very confident that the team can still improve before NZ," said Zolkples

"It is good to see younger players such as Faizal played confidently. Hope they will do better tomorrow."

Friday, October 23, 2009


Australia is prepared to play the remaining two Test Matches using the new green card regulations if Malaysia makes the request.

In confirming that no such request was made prior to the Third Test Match played in Kuantan yesterday, Australian coach Ric Charlesworth said that they were aware that the new regulation will be used in the Champions Trophy and as such it will be mutually beneficial as the Malaysians were going to face a similar scenario in the World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand next month.

The new regulations, introduced by FIH, calls for a two minute suspension of a player that is shown the green card during a match. The suspension begins when the player sits within the designated technical area.

"I cannot comment much on the rule other then it will probably help reduce the niggling fouls that stop the flow of the game unnecessarily," said Charlesworth.

"But as has been the case in the past, it all depends on the interpretation of the umpires as there are so many variations when it comes to interpretation of regulations introduced by FIH.

"Hence it will be better if FIH comes out with clear guidelines as there can be confusion given that the umpires have powers to punish the players with suspension even with a green card which was a caution in the past."

Charlesworth was not too happy with the standard of umpiring in the match played in Kuantan as he felt that there were many unwarranted calls. Nonetheless he felt that the match had given him some invaluable insights on the weakness of his team.

"Credit to the Malaysians for the fightback, but it was largely due to the fact that my players made several defensive mistakes and they were punished," said Charlesworth.

"Prior to this I had spoken on these issues with the players after the two matches, but now I have videotapes to show them what they are doing wrong.

"It was never the case of us making it easy for the Malaysians after taking the lead, but the pitch conditions, the crowd support as well as the travelling did have some effect on the team as a whole."

The other problem Charlesworth is facing is to get enough players fit for the remaining two Test Matches scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Tun Razak Stadium.

"We have 21 players here and three are carrying injuries that could prevent them from having further part in the remaining matches," said Charlesworth.

"Then we have a player, Mike Buturini who has to leave for home tomorrow (today) as he has exams at his university."

Charlesworth however contends that the Aussies will wrap up the series with a win on Saturday and render the Sunday match purely academic.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The door was firmly shut on Ismail Abu despite his audience with HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah during the Third Test Match between Malaysia and Australia at the Std Hoki Kuantan today.

Ismail who withdrew on his own accord after being accused of skipping gym training only to be spotted at a gaming centre, had stated his desire to return to the national team fold when he met the MHF President.

However during a hastily convened discussion attended by Deputy President Nur Azmi Ahmad, Vice President M. Gobinathan, Hon Secretary Hashim Yusof, Team Manager George Koshy, Chief Coach Tai Beng Hai and Asst. Coach Nor Saiful Zaini, it was decided that Ismail was surplus to the teams requirements at this stage.

Beng Hai when approached after the discussion was evasive on the decision reached but Gobinathan, who is the National Team Stand In Manager confirmed that the decision taken was a firm no.

The firmness of MHF in this case is applauded as Ismail had a ten day window to reconsider his decision and this is now a case of a little too late for the top rated Pahang born striker.


Hockey’s Sikh Legend: Balbir Singh, Senior
A free-wheeling tête-à-tête with the triple Olympic Gold Medallist

By: Harjap Singh Aujla

Balbir Singh Senior is today Indian hockey’s most successful living legend. Well into his eighties, standing six feet tall, a fully practicing Sikh Balbir Singh Senior still looks very impressive.

His looks defy his age. In his eighties, when most of the people slowdown considerably, he leads an active life. He lives roughly for six months in Metropolitan Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and for six months, he stays in India mostly in Punjab.

He leads an active retired man’s life, but touch wood, he is in good health. His grasp over several big and small issues is commendable and his memory is still excellent. His analysis of the present day plight of Indian hockey is very thought provoking.

Most of the people in India believe that Major Dhyan Chand has been India’s most brilliant hockey player ever, but he was the product of nineteen twenties, when Olympic competition was not very much tough.

But Balbir Singh is the product of Post World War II Olympics, when the Europeans started building up their sports and youth programs in right earnest and the Pakistanis started taking hockey very seriously. Thus India was made to struggle really hard to win an Olympic Gold Medal.

In the last week of September 2007, this writer was on a social trip to Vancouver British Columbia, Canada. At one dinner gathering myself and Sardar Balbir Singh Senior were both present. I wanted to have a feel as to how he felt about the rise and fall of men’s hockey in India. This chance meeting provided ample opportunity to talk to him about the once glorious days of Indian hockey and the bad times through which Indian hockey is passing at the present juncture. He is an eye-witness to the steady ascendancy and free-fall of hockey in India.

When he was selected for the first time as a member of the London bound Indian Olympic Hockey Contingent in 1948, India was on the top of the pyramid of the World’s hockey playing nations.

Had the World War Second not been on, he could have been considered to represent India even in 1944 as the youngest teenage player of the team. According to him he was brimming with energy in 1947-1948. India won the Olympic Hockey Gold Medal in 1948 rather easily.

It was an extremely thrilling and exhilarating experience, the whole World seemed at India’s feet and aspiring to catch up with the wizards of hockey. In 1948, the Sikhs of Punjab were in the vanguard of Indian Olympic Hockey Contingent. I was told earlier on by Tarlochan Singh Bawa, another member of the 1948 Indian Olympic Hockey team that during those days the Sikh players used to be all “Saabat Soorat Sikhs”. They were tall, broad shouldered and swift as lightening.

The competition during the 1952 Helsinki Olympics was much tougher, but India had the momentum and it prevailed despite all odds. The heat was really turned on against India during the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. Balbir Singh Senior was the captain of the Indian squad. The league matches were completely one sided in favour of India with a couple of dozen plus goal wins against the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union, but the matches against West Germany and Pakistan were very tough. India could barely manage to win both these matches by identical one goal margins. The victory in the final against Pakistan was very exhilarating. A victory is after all a victory, even with a razor thin margin and it was elating.

Balbir Singh thinks that the introduction of expensive astroturfs has hit India very badly. Nice and thick slow growing grass is India’s advantage. We were always great on grass, which is easy to grow and cheaper to maintain in India.

But the Europeans countries introduced synthetic turf, which, being an imported item is expensive to lay in India. We have far fewer synthetic turfs in India compared to any European nation.

Balbir Singh thinks that India’s loss at the hands of Pakistan in the final of 1960 Rome Olympics was a very tough loss to digest, not only for him personally but for the entire Punjab and India. A three decade plus old all conquering record was shattered in just one bad moment in the game. The final match was by all indicators an evenly played encounter, but the luckier and the more opportune team won. India’s team was in no way inferior to Pakistan’s in any department of the game. The game was fiercely contested, we had better of the exchanges, but the luck eventually smiled on Pakistan. According to Balbir Singh, India took the sweet revenge during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, when in an evenly played game India took the Gold medal by capitalizing on a well earned penalty stroke.

India’s real downfall started after the 1966 Asian Games. India defeated Pakistan for the Asian Games Hockey Gold Medal in 1966 by a solitary goal margin in Bangkok Asiad. Balbir Singh Senior had not represented India in the 1960 and 1964 Olympics as well as the 1966 Asian Games, but as an enthusiast of hockey he was all along keeping track of the performance of the Indian Hockey Team. Balbir Singh thinks that no single reason can be assigned for the down fall of Indian hockey.

India’s downslide in hockey is due to accumulation of a number of factors, which can be discussed one by one. As a true sportsman, Balbir Singh still hopes for a bright future of hockey in India, but the nation and Punjab shall have to work extremely hard for that goal to be attained. The field is getting more and more crowded and the competition is getting tougher and tougher.

Balbir Singh analyses that Indian youth’s lack of physical fitness, in comparison with the rich Western European nations as well as India’s poor nourishment diet compared to Pakistan and Korea, is a serious handicap for the Indian hockey players. When we used to win, physical fitness levels of the other hockey playing nations were
not too much superior to ours. The Indian were almost at par with the Europeans in height, speed, strength and stamina and we had an edge in the art of dribbling and clever play. Brilliant dribbling got us the goals and in plenty. Dribbling abilities are still with us, but physical strength needed after entering the scoring area and the stamina to stay in the game till the final whistle are lacking in us, We lose most of the matches after having complete upper hand during the first half, but our stamina lets
us badly down in the second half as well as during the dying minutes of the game.

According to Balbir, we need to work on this weakness. He thinks that we may have not weakened, the others have improved.

Balbir Singh thinks that the introduction of expensive astroturfs has hit India very badly. Nice and thick slow growing grass is India’s advantage. We were always great on grass, which is easy to grow and cheaper to maintain in India.

But the Europeans countries introduced synthetic turf, which, being an imported item is expensive to lay in India. We have far fewer synthetic turfs in India compared to any European nation. Synthetic turf requires very strong calf muscles and strong bicep muscles. Since our players train on grass, they do not develop very strong muscles like the Europeans do. This weakness lets us down in tournament after tournament.

India’s umpiring in the domestic tournaments is heavily weighed in favour of soft players. Indian umpiring does not accept brute aggression in the forward line and in the defenders. The Europeans are hard tacklers in defence and ruthless in the scoring areas.

Even most stylish players like Dhanraj Pillai are ineffective in the scoring areas. We need to work on this weakness.

The girls sports wing in village Kairon deserves an Astroturf. The boys in Khadoor Sahib deserve an Astroturf. Moga, Ferozepore and Batala deserve astroturfs. Jalandhar deserves at least three astroturfs and Amritsar can have one more. We have great coaches, but they should be allowed to have some years to develop a good fighting team.

According to Balbir, Jugraj’s injury, prior to the 2000 Sydney Olympics proved too costly for India. He was a unique three in one player. He used to be not only an ace drag-flicker, he was a very aggressive and accurate defender and his stubborn defense against opposing team’s penalty corner shots was the best India has seen in years. He reminded me of Late Surjit Singh Randhawa. Jugraj was India’s pivotal player. He used to feed the ball directly to the forwards like a seasoned half back, at occasions when the half backs did not click. If he ever regains his form and the IHF accepts him, he can still be an asset for India.

Balbir says that India desperately needs more astroturfs and at locations where physically fit youths are naturally growing, where diet is good and weather is conducive for good breeding of youth. The girls sports wing in village Kairon deserves an Astroturf. The boys in Khadoor Sahib deserve an Astroturf. Moga, Ferozepore and Batala deserve astroturfs. Jalandhar deserves at least three astroturfs and Amritsar can have one more.

We have great coaches, but they should be allowed to have some years to develop a good fighting team. Frequent hiring and firing of coaches, as was repeatedly done by K.P.S. Gill and Jyoti Kumaran lead Indian Hockey Federation, is always going to be counterproductive for Indian Hockey. The coach needs some time to settle down and know his job.

Balbir Singh is happy in knowing that the tribal kids in Jharkhand and Orissa are starting young and doing very well in hockey. But he thinks that their enthusiasm must be supported with high growth and muscle building natural diets, otherwise they in longer run will suffer from burnouts and lack of speed and stamina. Balbir Singh also feels that the youth of Punjab can always do a better job in hockey.

Balbir Singh sadly pointed out that the real power in Indian Hockey Federation was wielded by crafty Jyoti Kumarran, the then Secretary General of the Indian Hockey Federation. Kumarran had the votes to get any one elected president of the Indian Hockey Federation and rightly or wrongly he has been calling the shots. He has taken the state of the art infrastructure for hockey to places, which were never known for excellence in hockey. The former national and international level players in who’s veins hockey flows like blood are crying for better facilities and conducive atmosphere for the game.

If India hasto find its rightful place in hockey, she will have to rise above petty regionalism practiced by Jyoti Kumaran.

Balbir is not opposed to the Premier Hockey League in India, it brings in a lot of corporate money. But he thinks that the foreign players do not help in making a truly Indian team. The Indian team must come from within, for that purpose the national level tournaments must serve as the hunting ground for talented hockey players. The foreign players, due to their brilliant performance, may end up giving edge to an undeserving team and that gives false results.

This is exactly what is happening in India today. The foreign players are scoring goals and undeserving Indian teams are winning. The press and the public are watching helplessly.

We the non resident Sikhs have a lot of resources, if we act collectively. For example the non-resident Sikhs of Bholath, Tanda and Dasuya Tehsils are loaded with money. They can pool their resources and build excellent astroturfs at Begowal, Gilgian, Bholath, Nadala, Tanda, Miani or Dasuya. There is a strong presence of Moga based Punjabis in Canada, they can pool their resources to build Astroturf hockey stadiums at places like Moga, Baghapurana or Dhudike.

The Government of India, of course, is not authorized to interfere directly in the administration of hockey, but they give a lot of money for the development of the game, they can at the least give directives to the bosses of hockey. The government should not interfere if Indian hockey is doing great. But when things are seriously going in the wrong direction, such directives can act as a deterrent against wrong
policies of the bosses of hockey.

Balbir Singh thinks that although the cost of laying an Astroturf exceeds four crores of rupees, but if a few non resident Punjabis can agree to pool their resources, they can contribute a major chunk of the money needed for installing an Astroturf in their villages and towns.



There was thunder before a steady downpour started in the Third Test Match between Malaysia and Australia in the coastal city of Kuantan.

But there was no thunder in terms of the overall performance of the World Cup Qualifiers bound Malaysian team as they yet again put up a Jekyll and Hyde performance in the presence of the MHF President Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who however left at halftime and was not present to witness the fightback.

Though the Malaysians showed good fighting spirit, coming back from three goals down in the first half to hold the Aussies to a 3-3 draw, the overall performance left much to be desired.

While the results, as stated by coach Tai Beng Hai are insignificant, surely he too must realise that the general performance was anything but satifactory. And at the same time Beng Hai must learn to adhere to protocol of an international match.

Tactically the Malaysians were outclassed, especially in the first twenty minutes of the match. And this is something the Aussies have capitalised on in the last two matches as we virtually have lost the matches within 20 minutes.

Chasing a game in a Test match is different then in a World Cup Qualifier and Beng Hai needs to shore up his defence which is slow on the turn. The forwardline combination of Azlan Misron, Faisal Saari and Mohd Razie, who played together late in the second half seemed to be the missing link of the past two matches as they managed to penetrate the Aussie defence with speed and flair.

Malaysia made a change in the goalkeeping department, fielding Mohd Abdul Hakim instead of Khairulnizam Ibrahim who was fielded in the two earlier matches. The first choice keeper S. Kumar was back from his Deepavali celebrations but watched from the stands.

The only other change was S. Baljit Singh returning into the 16 in place of Ahmad Kazamirul.

For the Australians, they made three changes, fielding I. Burcher, Brett Dancer and N. Burchers in goal instead of goal scoring ace Glen Turner, Glen Simpson and R. Meadows respectively.

Australia took 11 minutes to open scoring through skipper Liam De Young before C. Cirello made it 2-0 in the 13th minute converting their first penalty corner of the match.

The two hundred odd crowd were on their feet when Faisal Saari burst through the middle in nthe 23rd minute but lacked the presence of the mind to go around keeper Burcers, opting instead to shoot straight into him from the top of the semi circle.

Hopes were raised yet again when Mal;aysia were awarded a penalty corner in the 27th minute, but Mohd Amin rahim sent his flick into the stands.

Australia then scored their third goal in the 30th minute when Mohd Shukri failed in his clearance thus giving Fergus Ravanagh the simplest of tasks in slotting home.

The home teams misery was further compounded when Mohd Madzli Ikmar was sent to the sin bin in the 32nd minute by umpire Levi Stephen.

Malaysia reduced the deficit in the 38th minute when Nabil Fiqri's attept was deflected into the goal of an Aussie defenders stick.

Mohd Razie then reduced the deficit to 3-2 when he deflected a shot by Faisal Saari in the 53rd minute, and suddenly the Malaysian started believing in their ability.

And the Malaysians almost snatched an equaliser in the 57th minute when they were awarded a penalty corner. And once again Amin took the responsibility, only to flick dangerously into an onrushing Aussie defender.

The equaliser finally came through Jivan Mohan who picked up a rebound off a penalty corner in the 67th minute to keep the Test series alive.



Liam De Young, Simon Orhard, C. Cirello, Mathew Butturini, David Guest, Joel Carrol, Matt Ghodes, Ian Burcher, Jonathon Charlesworth, Mathew Swann, Bret Dancer, M. Paterson, N. Burcers, K. Brown, G. Begbie, Fergus Ravanagh.


S. Baljit Singh, Mohd Amin Rahim, Jiwa Mohan, S. Selvaraju, Mohd Madzli Ikmar, Faisal Saari, Mohd Sharun Nabil, Mohd Shukri Mutalib, Azlan Misron, Jivan Mohan, Mohd Abdul Hakim, Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, Kelvinder Singh, C. Baljit Singh, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Nabi Fiqri Mohd Nor.


The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has approved a variation to the rules in relation to the penalty for a green card in the forthcoming ABN AMRO Champions Trophy 2009 in Melbourne, Australia and the three Men’s World Cup Qualifiers 2009.

The following variation to the Rules will form part of Appendix 6 of the Tournament Regulations for these tournaments only:

WorldHockey World Cup Qualifier men, Lille (France) – 31 October/08 November 2009

BDO World Cup Qualifier men, Invercargill (New Zealand) – 07-15 November 2009

BDO World Cup Qualifier men, Quilmes (Argentina) – 14-22 November 2009

ABN AMRO Champions Trophy men, Melbourne (Australia) – 28 November/06 December 2009

Green Card – Two Minute Suspension

For any offence, the offending player may be warned (indicated by a green card).

Where a green card is issued the offending player is temporarily suspended for two (2) minutes.

Temporarily suspended players must remain in a designated place until permitted by the technical officer on duty to resume play.

During the period of temporary suspension of a player, the team plays with one less player.

The umpire immediately restarts the game after the issue of the green card.

The offending player must leave the field immediately. If the player interferes with play on the way to the designated place the umpire further penalises the player under the normal conduct of play provisions.

The two minute temporary suspension commences when the player is seated at the designated area.

The timing of the suspension is controlled by the technical officials on duty at the technical table.

This variation to the Rules of Hockey was approved by the FIH Office Bearers to be used at the men’s World Cup Qualifiers 2009 and the men’s ABN AMRO Champions Trophy 2009 following a proposal from a working party comprising the Chairs and Secretaries of the Hockey Rules Board, Competitions Committee, Umpiring Committee and the Chair of the Athletes Panel. In addition, the Competitions Committee at its recent meeting in Lausanne endorsed the trial of this rule variation.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts. And to the Malaysian Hockey Federation, not being able to use talents accordingly is what has taken us to new depths.

Malaysia has played two Test Matches against Australia, losing both 1-3, 1-5 respectively and in the 140 minutes of hockey were awarded 6 penalty corners and scored one.

And a total of 19 players from the squad of 25 in training have been used by the coaches to determine the final squad which will carry our challenge in the qualifiers begining on November 7.

The fact is satistics do not lie and thus it was esy to figure out just who will be on the plane as really there should only be 20 players to pick from as having a squad to experiment at this stage is our folly,

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. Will this be the case as the coaches have opted to leave out two key players who could have made a difference. Well you live by the sword and die by the sword.

When coach Tai Beng Hai was asked when he will name his 18 players to the World Cup Qualifiers, the answer that we got was either on the 25th or 26th October, and that too depends on the Malaysian Hockey Federation.

And MHF Hon. Secretary Hashim Yusof was quick to respond to say that the team will be named on October 25, after the final Test Match at Tun Razak Stadium.

But one does not have to be a rocket sciencetist nor someone with a Mensa level to determine the players that will be on the flight to the qualifiers.

Beng Hai fielded 16 players in the first test match of whom at least 15 are expected to be in the final 18 with the exception of Mohd Noor Khairul Azrain.

Two of his probable 18 played in the second match, Kelvinder Singh and Jivan Mohan and the player who was in the 16 and most likely to miss out is Ahmad Kazamkhairul, with goalkeeper S. Kumar the only player who has yet to see action in the two matches.

So as far as Malaysian Hockey is concerned, these are the 18 players that are expected to carry the Malaysian challenge at the World Cup Qualifiers next month.

S. Kumar, Khairulnizam Ibrahim, Mohd Amin Rahim, Jiwa Mohan, S.Selvaraju, Mohd Madzli Ikmar, Faisal Saari, Mohd Sharun Nabil, Mohd Shukri Mutalib, Azlan Misron, Jivan Mohan, Mohd Razie Abd Rahim, Kelvinder Singh, C. Baljit Singh, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Nabil Fiqri Mohd Nor, S. Baljit Singh, Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil.

To take things a step further, we are even confident that Beng Hai's starting eleven will be as follows:

S. Kumar, Mohd Shukri, Mohd Razie, Mohd Amin, C. Baljit Singh,Nabil Fiqri, Sharun Nabil, Kelvinder, Faisal Saari, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Azlan Misron.

So there could probably be no place for experienced players in the likes of the Mohan brothers Jiwa and Jivan, as well as Mohd Madzli Ikmar.

However S. Baljit and Marhan could well miss out if Beng Hai opts to take another forward but seriously there is none that catches the eye at the moment.

The give away was when Beng Hai said that players who played in the Asia Cup as well as Champions Challenge in Dublin will be the ones most likely to make the squad. So all one had to do was go through the list and see the names as well as look at the team he played over the last two matches.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


For those who came in late for the second Test Match between Malaysia and Australia and looked at the scoreboard, they would have thought that the home team was doing well holding the visitors to a scoreless draw.

However they were mistaken for it took the organisers 10 minutes to put up the first score, and by that time Australia had scored three times.

Australia had made four changes to the team, brining in C. Cirielloo, K. Brown, G. Begbie and keeper R. Meadows whiler Malaysia made three by fielding Kelvinder Singh, Jivan Mohan and Ahmad Kazamirul in place of S. Baljit Singh, Mohd Marhsan Mohd Jalil and Mohd Noor Khairul Azrain.

And it took the Aussies just two minutes to open scoring via Glen Simpson who pounced on a defensive lapse to slot home.

Glen Turner then scored two goals in the space of two minutes, in the 9th and 10th minutes, exposing the frail Malaysian defence, especially on the right where Jiwa Mohan took time to settle down. The others in the defence, Mohd Madzli Ikmar, Mohd Amin Rahim and C. Baljit Singh were slow, often left chasing the fleetfooted Aussie strikeforce.

In contrast the Malaysian forward line were devoid of ideas but managed to create two penalty corners, but with failed to bear any result.

Halftime Australia 3 Malaysia 0

It was the same story in the second half as the Aussies were playing a cat and mouse game against the homesters. And when it mattered Australia stepped up a gear to make it 4-0 via Mark Peterson in the 57th minute before Mohd Amin Rahim finally made good a penalty corner in the 66th minute to reduce the deficit to 4-1.

Australia had the last laugh when Simon Orhard scored a minute before time.

Australia: Liam D’Young, Simon Orchard, Glen Turner, C. Cirello, Matthew Butturini, David Guest, Joel Carroll, Matt Gohdes, K. Brown, Jonathon Charlesworth, Matthew Swann, Glen Simpson, R. Meadows, G. Bagbie, Mark Paterson, Fergus Kavanagh.

Malaysia: Khairulnizam Ibrahim, Ahmad Kazaamirul Nasruddin, Mohamed Amin Rahim, jivan Mohan, S. Selvaraju, Mohd Madzli Ikmar, Faisal Saari, Mohamed Shahrun Nabil, Mohd Shukri Mutalib, Azlan Misron, Jiwa Mohan, Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, Kelvinder Singh, C. Baljit Singh, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Nabil FiqriMohd Nor.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Australia are hell bent on winning all the matches in the Test Series with Malaysia. But the hosts are contend with just performing well, ironing the chinks in the amour, akin to being prepared to lose the battle but not the war that will unfold in New Zealand on November 7.

This was the conclusions one could draw up after the post match interview from the observations made by coaches Ric Charlesworth and Tai Beng Hai after the First Test Match ended in a 3-1 win by the Aussies.

To be honest Malaysia were disorientated, lacked cohesiveness, and above all were impotent in attack, to sum it all up in one line.

The team lacked character and the defence was porous, so much so that at certain times it was akin to a knife slicing through butter that had been left on the breakfast table for a couple of hours.

Beng Hai would not come out and admit it, but no matter how many times he says that the players selected were the best, he must be kicking himself for letting Ismail Abu leave the squad, no thanks to a misdemenour that could have been dealt with better had there been an effort from those who spotted him at a so called gaming outlet.

The fact that Malaysia had a pathetic solitary penalty corner to show in the entire 70 minutes speaks volumes that they lack someone in the calibere of Ismail. The strikeforce was unimaginative and though they ran rings around the Aussie defence, it was akin to a headless chicken with no sense of direction.

"We played well in patches but overall I am satisfied with the performance. Of course there are areas that need to be improved but we are playing high level matches after a long break," said Beng Hai.

"The forwards should have been more imaginative to create penalty corners and we could have been tighter in defence.

"Still its better to lose the battle as the results here are not important as it is the war in New Zealand that we need to win. So I will not be worried if we do not win as our priority is in the qualifiers."

Charlesworth was diplomatic in his assessment of the Malaysian team.

"We expected a tough match and the Malaysians played to form. Though we may have won but it was not easy, infact I expect close contest in all matches," said Charlesworth.

"However we have every intention to win all the Test matches and we take the field with one intention, to win each time we step onto the pitch.

"If it is any consolation to Malaysia, 10 of the players in the team played in the qualifiers in New Zealand."

But what Charlesworth omitted from saying was that nine of his first team players that assured Australia a place in the World Cup were not in the squad of 21 that are here in Malaysia.

And that fact was confirmed by skipper Liam De Young who said that Australia fielded many reserves in the match in August when Malaysia defeated the Aussis 1-0, the first win since the Azlan Shah Cup win recorded in 1994.

Malaysia played without S.Kumar, Kelvinder Singh and Jivan Mohan, all three been given extended leave to celebrate Deepavali.

And it was Khairunisam Ibrahim in goal that benefited most from Kumar's absence as he gave a solid performance in between the posts and could not be faulted for the Aussies goals. Infact had it not been for Khairunisam's heroics, Malaysia could well have been hammered in the very first half itself as he pulled off stunning saves to keep the scoreline respectable.

Charlesworth gave three players a senior international debut, Matt Ghodes, Jonathon Charlesworth and Matthew Swann, and they performed well.

Australia took the lead in the 16th minute when they converted their first penalty corner via Glen Turner who deflected a drag flick by Mathew Butturini. Although Malaysia drew level in the 32nd minute via S.Selvaraju, that was all they had to show for the match.

Australia went into a 2-1 lead in the 49th minute via David Guest who deflects an attempt by Butturini and sealed their win through Glen Turner who scored a field goal in the 65th minute.

The two teams will square off in the second match on Tuesday at 6.00pm and Australia are expected to make major changes to the starting XI.

"Players which were not in the list today can expect to see action in the match tomorrow,"said Charlesworth.

"These matches are vital to all players as it will give me an indication as to who is ready to shoulder the burden at the Champions Trophy and the World Cup."

Australia: Liam D’Young, Simon Orchard, Glen Turner, Jason Wilson, Matthew Butturini, David Guest, Joel Carroll, Matt Gohdes, Ian Burcher, Jonathon Charlesworth, Matthew Swann, Glen Simpson, Nathan Burgers, Brent Dancer, Mark Paterson, Fergus Kavanagh.

Malaysia: Khairulnizam Ibrahim, S. Baljit Singh, Mohamed Amin Rahim, Mohamed Marhan Mohamed Jalil, S. Selvaraju, Mohd Madzli Ikmar, Faisal Saari, Mohamed Shahrun Nabil, Mohd Shukri Mutalib, Azlan Misron, Jiwa Mohan, Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, Mohd Noor Khairul Azrain, C. Baljit Singh, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Nabil FiqriMohd Nor.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Here is the scenario, 12 out of the 22 players in the Australian squad have played less then 20 international matches. And nine first choice players are not in the team which will play 5 Test Matches against Malaysia over the next seven days, commencing Monday. The full list of the matches is below.

These 12 players have 350 minutes to prove their worth to Australian coach Ric Charlesworth, that they have what it takes to don the Australian jersey for the Champions Trophy later this year.

And facing the Aussies, will be a squad of 25 Malaysian players, of which 18 will be selected by coach Tai Beng Hai and his assistant Nor Saiful Zaini for the World Cup Qualifiers to be held in New Zealand from November 7.

Malaysia has beaten the Aussies, 1-0 in the Three Nation Tournament in August but suffered heavy defeats, 8-1 and 11-3 in two other matches. But those results do not mean anything for what matters is what happens in New Zealand next month.

Qualification for the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi will virtually assure the coaching staff will cement their place and lead the team not only to the World Cup but the Commonwealth Games as well as the Asian Games. Anything less and expect the powers that be will make the duo walk the plank.

So how many matches will the fans and those within the hockey fraternity be hoping that Malaysia will win against the Aussies? Given that this is virtually the Australian development squad, we should win at least three of the matches.

But do we really expect that to happen? Well I would be pleasantly surprised if we won three matches as I believe that we will win one, draw another and lose three of the matches.

Now let's move on with regards to holding the matches so close to the Qualifiers. Why we agreed to host the Australians during this period baffles many. The matches will be completed on October 26 and five days later the final 18 will leave for New Zealand. Should there be any major injury, then the player will have no time to recover.

Then there is the question of periodisation as playing high level matches just ten days prior to an important tournament is questionable. So really what are our expectations really, do well against the Aussies and get burnt in New Zealand?

The next issue is with regards to the time the matches are to be played. Why are we playing matches at 6.00 and 5.00pm when really we should be playing matches later in the night as the weather in New Zealand will be much cooler? Why did we give in to the request of the Aussies to play the matches at times suitable to them?

Talking about weather, it baffles the critics as to why the team did not opt to train at UIA as they are located in a much cooler location and training the early mornings and late at night could be some form of stimulation exercise as the players could adapt to cooler climate right here in Malaysia.

Whatever some critics may believe, I have the interest of the team and am praying that they make it to New Delhi. When Malaysia played in the 1997 World Cup Qualifiers in Kuala Lumpur, many wrote them off as we had not qualified since Bombay 1982. But the players showed their resilience and impossible was nothing.

Could we dare dream the same this time around?

Only time and our performances against the Aussies over the next week will give us some indication. Remember it is the results in New Zealand that count, but equally vital is our performances here, for that will give the indication.


While Malaysia opted to leave out experience over youth, Pakistan recalled four experienced players, who had missed the recently-concluded national training camp in Lahore because of club commitments in Europe to strengthen the side that has to win the Lille Qualifiers to ensure that the record four-time world champions confirm a place for the 2010 tournament.

Former Pakistan captain Waseem Ahmed, Rehan Butt, Salman Akbar and Abbas Haider proved their fitness in the one-day trials held at the National Hockey Stadium in Lahore on Friday and were selected for the Lille assignment. Youngsters Sibtain Raza and Zeeshan Ali were axed to make room for the senior players in the squad.

"It is the best possible team we can field in the Qualifiers," Shahid Ali Khan, the team's coach, told 'The News' from Lahore. "It has some very experienced players who will have the support of various talented youngsters, who have graduated from the (national) junior team," he added.

Shahid said that the Qualifiers is the last opportunity for Pakistan to avoid the ignominy of not making the cut for the World Cup, adding that his boys cannot afford to waste it. "It is our last chance," he said. "We have to win the qualifying tournament at any cost and I'm confident that the boys are capable of doing that."

Pakistan came agonisingly close to earning an automatic berth for the World Cup when they reached the Asia Cup final in Malaysia early this summer only to lose a close encounter against Korea. From Asia, just the number one team gets a direct berth in the World Cup.

Pakistan are seeded to win the Lille Qualifiers to be played from October 31 to November 8.

They face Japan, hosts France, Poland, Russia and Italy in the tournament.

Nine teams, including hosts India, have already earned qualified for the World Cup while the winners of the three qualifying rounds will join them in the 12-nation World Cup to be played from February 28-March 13.

Chief selector Hasan Sardar is confident that the Greenshirts will shine in Lille.

"Our team includes some very talented players and I'm confident that they will win the qualifying rounds," said Hassan, a former Olympian.

Following the trials, the training camp has been dispersed but there has been a change in the team's plan. The team might not leave for Europe this weekend and could resume training for a few days before flying out for France next week.

Pakistan squad: Zeeshan Ashraf (captain), Salman Akbar, Nasir Ahmed, Sohail Abbas, Mohammad Imran (vice-captain), Mohammad Irfan, Waseem Ahmed, Sajjad Anwar, Fareed Ahmed, Mohammad Rashid, Rehan Butt, Shakil Abbasi, Abdul Haseem Khan, Abbas Haider, Akhtar Ali, Waqas Sharif, Shafqat Rasool and Mohammad Zubair.




THE surnames Dancer and Charlesworth have been synonymous with Australian hockey for decades. Barry Dancer is the recently retired gold medal-winning coach of the men's team, while Ric Charlesworth has helped the national women's team to two Olympic gold medals.

But hockey followers could be forgiven for having to take a second glance at the Kookaburras' team list with a new generation of the famous families now forging their own careers in the sport.

For the first time, the champions' sons - full-back Brent Dancer and midfielder Jonathon Charlesworth - have joined the squad, which flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Friday to compete in a five-Test tour.

Dancer is the son of Barry, who coached the Kookaburras for eight years and guided them to gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He retired as national coach last year after the Beijing Games.

And it was Ric Charlesworth - a former Kookaburras captain who coached the Australian women's team to gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics - who took over from Dancer and is now leading the side.

His son's debut comes after five seasons in the national league with Western Australia and marks the first time in the Kookaburras' history that a player has been coached by his father.

Brent Dancer has been part of the national team's development group since 2006 and was added to the national training squad earlier this year.

Dancer, 25, is looking forward to his first international appearance, which will have a major bearing on selection for the Champions Trophy squad to play in Melbourne from November 28 to December 6.

''I've certainly grown up around hockey and have been around it since I was a young kid so, yeah, you could say it's in the blood,'' he said.

But earning your stripes in the sport when your father was the head coach did have its advantages, Dancer said.

''He's my own personal coach. It's pretty handy to have him sitting in a corner giving me advice on my game.

''When he was the actual coach and I was trying to break into the team it was probably a bit more difficult than for the standard players, but I certainly don't think it got in the way of me making the team at any stage. I think if I was good enough at the time dad would have been fair on me and would have picked me.''

He says that, like Charlesworth, he often fields questions about his celebrated father.

''While we've both earned our spot, I think being around hockey for so long and having our dads in the positions they are, you just learn to live with it.''

As Charlesworth junior puts it, their unique situation means the pair share a special bond.

''I've already asked [my dad] a couple of times what he did in certain situations with regard to training and how to act around the guys and so on, and he's been really good,'' Charlesworth says.

''The other guys are all pretty understanding and don't treat me any differently.''

Both players took up hockey at the age of six and also turned to soccer for a while due to its similarities.

Charlesworth soon decided hockey was where his heart was, while Dancer returned to the sport as a teenager. He had to work his way back after about 18 months on the sidelines from 2005 when he required a full knee reconstruction after injuring it in a social Australian rules game with his workmates.

Charlesworth says being the first squad member to play under his father is an honour. ''It's actually good because I get to see a bit more of dad,'' he said.

The 24-year-old, who as a trainee doctor is also following his father's career footsteps, is among three players to make their debut in Malaysia, along with Queenslanders Matt Gohdes and Matthew Swann. Gohdes is a cousin of two-time world player of the year and current Kookaburra Jamie Dwyer.

The Age.Com

Thursday, October 15, 2009


A player was threatened with exclusion from the national team for the World Cup Qualifiers, all because he wanted to use the hockey stick that was custom made for him, and for defying the instruction of a team official who was promoting the usage of a stick from a rival company.

This was just part of the drama that unfolded on the day when the list of 25 players who will play the Test Matches against Australia next week.

And as stated by Malaysian Hockey weeks ago, Chua Boon Huat failed to make the cut, as did Mohd Sallehin Ghani and Ismail Abu was omitted earlier. So really there was no surprises there as the most likely excuse for the exclusion of Chua was that he opted to play in the Austrian league, but then again how will the management justify the inclusion of Jiwa Mohan who flies back from Perth today?

For the record, the players that failed to make the cut or grade or lived up to the expectations of the interim coaches are Mohd Fairus, Mohd Hanafi, Herwan Pami, Mohd Sallehin Ghani, Mohd Riduan, Fikri Bassar, Hafifihafiz Hanafi, Chua Boon Huat and Jamil Saidin. The list of the 25 players selected are as listed below.

And for the benefit of the readers, I am publishing part of the email that I received from I. Vikneswaran, the owner of Vik Network Sdn Bhd with regards to the indiscretion by the said official. I have omitted the name of the player as well as the official and leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

I received a phone call from XXXXX ( xxxxxxxxx of the Malaysian Hockey Team) via +601xxxxxxxx at approximately 1053 hrs on 14th October 2009
He spoke pertaining xxxxxxxx using Prodigy VIK Hockey Stick. He told me that xxxxxx has not been playing properly and have inaccurate shot at goal due the use of Prodigy hockey stick. He then went on informing me that xxxxx has to use another specific brand of his choice. According to xxxxxxx, historically, he has managed to convince another brand to sponsor 5 National Junior players during the recent Junior World Cup where xxxxx is one of them. So, now he expects xxxxx to use the brand of his choice for the test match and qualifier as he has used them during the Junior World Cup 2009. But, why now after more that a month using Prodigy hockey stick with great success?
I have been sponsoring xxxxxx at least since late August 2009. I have taken the effort to specifically design and produce a stick that conforms to the highest international standard for xxxxx to use. Imagine, the cost, time and IP involved in making the stick possible. I have also taken the trouble to get feedback on his use of the stick and thus far has been positive. The National Team goalkeeper did also provide some feedback stating that his shots are more powerful with better timing as well as having higher rate of accuracy.
Now, what alarms me is that xxxxx went on to tell me that he might drop xxxxxx from the Malaysian Senior National Team if he doesn't change the brand of the hockey stick he is using to a brand of xxxxx choice. I wonder if he is a brand ambassador or a Malaysian Hockey Cxxxxx preparing Malaysia to qualify for the 2010 World Cup? I have great pride in my product and have also adapted 1Malaysia in my hockey stick to promote Malaysia and Malaysian hockey specifically to the highest standards. We take great pride in supporting Malaysian hockey by providing the player that best technical tool and equipment in today's hockey.
I feel that xxxxx should put his personal interest and instead concentrate on National interest. The whole nation is behind the Malaysian Team attempting to qualify for the 2010 World Cup and here the xxxxxxx is busy on promoting specific players to use the brand of his choice.
I pity xxxxx who is only xx years young and has a lot to promise going through this trauma as he is now in a limbo between 2 brands. The test match is next week and the qualifiers is only less than a month. How is young xxxxx going to acclimatise with his new hockey stick fulfilling xxxxx choice of brand and play exceptionally well? New, it seems that he has to please xxxxx to be in the squad and not just play his best hockey to be in the final squad and fullfill the nations dreams.
I would sincerely appreciate if you could arrest this issue immediately as prevention is better that cure.
Salam 1Malaysia,
Bac Sp Sc Hons. (UM) MA Psychology (RAU)
FOOTNOTE: The said player is in the list of 25 and has been given permission to use the stick of his choice. A phone call from Vikneswaran confirmed that the player was told he could use the Prodigy stick.

S. Kumar, Khairulnizam Ibrahim, Abdul Hakim

Mohd Madzli Ikmar , Mohd Amin Rahim , Mohd Marhan , Baljit Singh s/o Charun Singh, Baljit Singh s/o Sarjab Singh, Ahmad Kazamirul, Jiwa Mohan

Mohamad Shukri , Nabil Fiqri , Jivan Mohan, Mohd Sharun Nabil, Kelvinder Singh, Azlan Misron, Mohd Shafiq.

Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, S. Selvaraju, Faizal Saari, Mohammad Amerullah, Mohd Noor Khairul, Muhamad Azami, Harvinder Singh, Muhammad Razie