Monday, November 30, 2009
Officials from both NSC and MHF are tightlipped over this after this blog had broke the story on the proposal to engage the services of the 55 year old former Holland and Pakistan coach.
Denying what could be the best news for Malaysian hockey this decade is not a wise thing and trying to keep secrets in MHF is funny as the tendency is not to trust their own shadows.
NSC Director General Dato Zolkples Embong also denied that he met Oltmans this morning.
In describing the constant change of decisions made by the MHF, it is appropriate to utilise this terminology as baffling, ridiculous and down right mind blowing seems to lose its edge as MHF has clearly carved a name for itself to be deserving of such an accolade.
Then we read that the issue was raised at the MHF AGM in Kuantan last Saturday and the decision was reversed. And tomorrow we could well see another reversal, flip flop, flip, flop.
Before we proceed further, a point to note - the Coaching Chairman I am told issued the letter without calling for a formal meeting of the Coaching Committee or its Standing Committee. So what made the Chairman issue such a letter and why did the MHF Secretariat not tell him to get the endorsement from his committee?
The reason I raise this is because HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahad Shah, the President of MHF was put in a difficult situation when this matter, about coaches being released, was raised at the AGM by one of the affiliates.
Another question that has been left unanswered is who in the first place requested the Chairman of the Coaching Committee to issue such a letter? Was the Chairman coerced after being told that the NSC had given its permission to the coaches? If so then where is this letter by NSC.
Thirdly, was there any formal applications from the coaches themselves seeking permission to handle teams in the MHL? And who were these letters addressed to - the MHF or NSC, who are their paymasters.
The most important factor here is while the NSC are the paymasters, the MHF are policy makers and rightfully they should not have waited till a week before the MHL gets underway to make such a decision. MHF being run professionally these days - well I leave that to the readers to determine.
If the MHF Secretariat had done their work in accordance with the MHF Constitution, then such an issue will not have arisen in the very first place. And now the Coaching Committee is scheduled to meet on the issue on Tuesday.
And this is what their outcome will be - that the Assistant Coaches in the National set up will be allowed to be involved with clubs in the MHL while the Chief Coaches will sit it out. I will label this decision as unfair, unjust and undemocratic.
One of the Assistant coaches receives a far higher monthly allowance from the NSC compared to the Chief Coach of the Project 2013 team. So those three words aptly describe why I feel the decision is downright mind blowing.
Is trying to earn extra income wrong? Especially so when what you get paid is peanuts. So do the just and fair thing and evaluate the coaches on a case to case basis rather then a blanket ban on them from coaching clubs. After all this is the MHL and only the senior national coaches will be involved in trying to spot players (if any) for the national squad.
The age group coaches, rightfully, should never be allowed to coach state or club teams in the MHF tournaments, period.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Though MHF are seeking to employ the 55 year old on a fulltime basis, there could be some snags as Oltmans is currently attached to Laren, a club that boasts the likes of Rehan Butt and Salman Akbar.
So an alternative arrangement could be worked out with Oltmans as a National Team Consultant while Tai Beng Hai retains his position as Head Coach of the national side.
It is learnt that a high powered meeting was held in Kuantan today, just before the Malaysian Hockey Confederation and Malaysian Hockey Federation meetings.
The meeting it is learnt was to discuss the appointment of the Dutch coach was attended by MHF President Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and NSC Director General Dato Zolkples Embong and other MHF top brass.
It is further believed that the decision to consider Oltmans was taken after a series of email exchanges between MHF and the former Pakistan coach over the past few months.
If Oltmans is selected, he will be the fourth foreign coach to handle the national side, the first being Australian Terry Walsh followed by two Germans in the likes of Volkner Knapp and Paul Lissek.
Should MHF go ahead and endorse the appointment, Oltmans could well take charge of the team for the AHF Champions Trophy followed by Azlan Shah Cup, Commonwealth Games and the all important Asian Games that provides automatic entry to the 2012 London Olympics.
Sent from my BlackBerry
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
When I was young, I looked forward to seeing the clowns in action in the Great London Circus that used to pitch its tents in the various towns in the country. The beauty about the circus was that it comprised of many different acts and that kept the audience entertained.
On December 4, a new circus will hit the city, but not the whole of Malaysia will be able to witness it as only selected towns have been granted the honour by the main actors, the Malaysian Hockey Federation. Matches will be played in Johor Baru, Malacca and Penang as well as in Kuala Lumpur, as listed in the schedule in my earlier postings. Seremban was initially on the list but were removed after MHF finally realised that the pitch would draw flak from teams.
Perhaps Negri Sembilan HA could use the expertise of an official within MHF who has the ability to "negotiate" special prices for artificial pitches, and the SMS bear witness to his ability.
Why do I call it a circus? Well the teams will be expected to perform infront of audiences in these three towns though five of the teams are based in Klang Valley. And the rationale that it is being done to promote hockey is downright rubbish.
Promoting hockey can be done by having national training camps in the various towns instead of holding MHL matches that will not leave any lasting impressions. Imagine kids getting to watch their very own national players training and even picking up a skill or two should those in MHF be cunning enough to hold coaching clinics as well.
Ever wonder what a youngster would feel if the likes of S. Kumar, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin or Faisal Saari was to take charge of kids in smaller towns even for 30 minutes? The impaxct I dare say will be mind blowing to these kids.
Even playing in KL these teams have troube drawing the crowds and as I said before, the single act in a circus hardly draws much admiration, least of all fans akin to the Malaysia Cup final, no disrespect to Kelantan though.
Playing a match on the weekend prior to the schools re-opening is a big "no no", and those in MHF should have consulted their football counterparts before fixing such dates. It will be a logistical nightmare as teams will battle the jams on the highways to make the trip and back. And let's not forget that some players as well as officials may have family obligations.
Then we have the so called draw card by MHF - that the matches will be shown live over Astro CH816, the Astro Super Sport 2. This is where it gets more interesting.
Just how many Malaysians have Astro in their houses? And just how many have subscribed to the sports channels?
FAM has sold its rights for the MSL to RTM for a cool RM6 million per season and when Astro was thinking of the local sports channel, the asking price by FAM was RM2 million per season. But the MHF I believe has given the rights free of charge to Astro. Why is it that football can draw the money but hockey is not able to command any fee?
So rather then getting carried away by saying that hockey will be live on TV, lets work on the economics of it.
Paying the teams to play outstation costs money in terms of hotel and travelling besides the rental of venues and other expenditure. So if MHF has the money, just how much of it is spent on development?
Compelling states to organise Under 18 leagues without financial assistance is not development I dare say. If MHF can spend money on a circus, then why not on proper development? Or is there any development planned in the first place?
Many questions arise from MHL, more questions then answers. The MHL can be marketed but not the way some within MHF had wanted to do.
On October 9, a presentation was done at the MHF Management Committee, that a sum of RM7 million was required to hold the circus, RM3 million for telecasting the matches live on pay TV and another RM4 million to a company for organising as well as advertising and promotion of the MHL.
Luckily, or rather unlucky for some, the money never was made available, hence the circus will only appear in three towns. And the beauty of it is that development will continue to suffer.
Monday, November 23, 2009
|Friday, 04.12.2009 - Charity Shield|
|2||6.30pm||STR||UniKL-IBIL||vs||KL Hockey Club|
|5||6.30pm||STR||KL Hockey Club||vs||TNB|
|9||8.30pm||STR||KL Hockey Club||vs||Sapura|
|11||6.30pm||USM||KL Hockey Club||vs||Maybank|
|15||8.30pm||USM||NUR Insafi||vs||KL Hockey Club|
|16||4.30pm||STR||KL Hockey Club||vs||NUR Insafi|
|19||4.30pm||STR||Maybank||vs||KL Hockey Club|
|23||6.30pm||Taman Daya||Maybank||vs||NUR Insafi|
|24||8.30pm||Taman Daya||KL Hockey Club||vs||UniKL-IBIL|
|25||4.30pm||Taman Daya||NUR Insafi||vs||UniKL-IBIL|
|26||6.30pm||Taman Daya||Sapura||vs||KL Hockey Club|
|28||4.30pm||MBMB - Melaka||Sapura||vs||NUR Insafi|
|29||6.30pm||MBMB - Melaka||UniKL-IBIL||vs||Maybank|
|30||8.30pm||MBMB - Melaka||TNB||vs||KL Hockey Club|
It seems the likes of K. Dharmaraj, Nor Azlan Bakar, Nor Saiful Zaini and Lailin Abu Hassan are not allowed to coach any of the teams in the MHL as they are gainfully employed as coaches of the various teams in the national set-up. The decision was taken by the MHF and the NSC it seems were obliged to follow what MHF had decided.
On the other hand, the likes of Stephen van Huizen and K. Rajan are said to be out of favour by Sapura and TNB respectively for contrasting reasons. While Stephen is not able to commit fulltime to Sapura's cause, Rajan it is learnt has been a victim of a smear campaign led by some overzealous personalities and some within TNB. Hence it was deemed that Rajan be left out to safeguard the image of TNB, all due to some anonymous comments left on a blog of late.
So effectively Sapura, TNB and KL Hockey Club are now "coach less".
As to why MHF opted to prevent the coaches in the national set-up to earn some extra income by rendering their services to clubs is beyond comprehension. Stuart Pearce is the England Under 21 coach, but at the same time he managed Manchester City in 2007, dual roles were ok for England FA but not for MHF.
So it is now learnt that Rajan, discarded by TNB, may well be on his way to coach Sapura, and ironically the two teams square of against each other in the Charity Shield match on December 4. But there is also talk that Stephen could well play a part with BJSS coach S. Prakash appointed as chief coach of Sapura.
With Dharma out, R. Vivekananda is expected to chart the fortunes of KL Hockey Club, leaving TNB yet to decide on who is coaching them.
While all of this musical chairs goes on, UniKL has been going around preparing their team under I. Vikneswaran and assisted by K. Embaraj, ironically the assistant coach of Sapura last season.
Friday, November 20, 2009
The facts are laid bare; we have failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, period. The target set was qualification and finishing second best is not getting us on the plane to New Delhi. Neither are we going to be in the World top 12 as envisioned by HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
So it is a failure and calling it by another name will be injustice to teams of 2004, 2006 and 2008 who failed to make the Olympics and World Cups. But before one starts to assume that the efforts of the team at Invercargill are not appreciated, then they best not carry on reading the review.
Malaysia, despite the various issues surrounding it, right from indiscipline, dropping of senior players and a less then comprehensive preparation did well to make the final and lose out by a mere 13 minutes for a place in the World Cup, so kudos to them for the effort.
Statistics do not lie, and the fact that we concede many goals via score field goals when in the semi circle. is something that has stood out like a sore thumb. Our forward are naïve as they fail to capitalize when in possession, but more startling was what Tai Beng Hai told at a post match press conference, that he has instructed players not to create penalty corners but
Then we have a weakened New Zealand in the preliminary round. defence and attack as skipper Mohd Madzi Ikmar was warming the bench after the loss against
Madzli was the first choice penalty corner stopper as well as post-man for penalty corner defence, and how keeper S. Kumar must have wished that Madzli was beside him when facing Andrew Hayward in the final.
But not making the World Cup will probably help Malaysian hockey more then if we had qualified for all the shortcomings would have been swept under the carpet, as has been the norm ever since we started failing to get through qualifiers, dating back to 1985.
The decision by the National Sports Council is the right one; the team must be disbanded to allow the new coach to identify players from the Malaysian Hockey League.
The next step will be to do away with the year long centralized training and send players to compete abroard in the foreign leagues. Let us not be choosy on the leagues as we have to accept that at a world ranking of 16, top clubs are not about to come knocking on the doors of the MHF office at Bukit Jalil.
Should MHF decide to retain Beng Hai, then he should be told before the MHL commences and be entrusted with selecting the players for the challenges next year, beginning with the Asian Azlan Shah Cup in June, Commonwealth Games in October and Asian Games in December. in April,
What Malaysia needs is foreign expertise, be it in the likes of a coach or a Technical Director. So the sooner this is sourced, the better. But then again we have some MHF officials who seem to be keener on paper qualifications of these coaches when even their own qualifications have serious doubts.
But on the overall, the management team of the Malaysian Hockey Federation has to be more committed towards reversing the downward trend and restoring the sport to its former glories.
Hockey is big business, though to some its just business and MHF has to be commercially viable and competitive to make a success of the game. It is not only about developing talent but being successfully internationally. And on both counts, MHF has failed miserably.
MHF thus has to go back to its drawing board, if there is one to start with, to come up with a national plan to develop hockey, which is both transparent and honest in its operation.
Firstly MHF must recognise that this is no mean task and that it will need all the help they can get, as within MHF there is clearly a lack of direction. MHF needs corporate expertise to contribute to this cause and start treating all concerned as investors in the salvation of Malaysian hockey.
We have seen some lean years but recent signs have been positive, given the performances at Invercargill. However MHF must capitalise on this and make Malaysian hockey relevant again with help from all quarters.
An increasingly globalised world changes patterns. A lot of things that we are used to and have considered to be stable are challenged by new orders, structures and arrangements.
This reminds me of a saying – when you are not the lead dog in the pack, the scene never changes”.
So dare we hope for any changes for the better?
Games Played: 6
Won: 3 – Wales 2-1, Scotland 3-2, China 3-0
Drew: 1 – Austria 2-2
Lost: 2 – New Zealand 4-2, New Zealand 2-1
Circle Penetrations For: 106
Circle Penetrations Against: 116
Shots On Target For: 36
Shots On Target Against: 45
Shots Off Target For: 25
Shots Off Target Against: 35
Goals Scored: 13
Goals Conceded: 11
Penalty Corners Conceded: 29
Penalty Corner Goals Conceded: 6
Green Cards: 13
Yellow Cards: 3
I watched the hockey World Cup hockey qualifier game between New Zealand and Malaysia held in New Zealand live over TV on Sunday, Nov 15 and I thought we played our hearts out and it was definitely one of our better games of late.
Congratulations to coach Tai Beng Hai and his boys. However, it was not good enough for Malaysia as we lost to the most consistently unbeaten side 2-1 . namely New Zealand .
What intrigues me is the inefficiency of Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) in hiring a foreign coach. Tai Beng Hai was only supposed to be an interim coach. Why couldn ' t we hire a foreign coach in time? It could have made all the difference!
Even if his salary demands were high, had we qualified, it would have brought gross returns to our economy, branding and more tourists inflows. In these days of ' outsourcing ' , did not the Malaysian Hockey Federation think of hiring a ' headhunter ' to help in this specialised job of recruiting a world class hockey coach?
Recruitment headhunters are efficient and reliable. The opportunity is lost now and this when we have to prepare for the Olympics and the World Cup in advance. We also need the Malaysian Hockey Federation officials to have strategic intent and common sense on the need to develop hockey to a new level.
There must be political will and a paradigm shift. We cannot apply yesterday ' s solutions to tomorrow ' s problems. We need to look ahead. I have been following some of the national-age group competitions involving the youths and I must say the standards are pathetic.
MHF should address this problem in the bud and make it a national issue so that there is political will for the schools to have the incentives to develop this world-ranking sports for Malaysia .
The decline of our hockey ' s standards should be brought to Parliament where it can receive the attention it deserves. This happened in India and Pakistan .
I am afraid if MHF continues to operates the way it has been done, we will soon follow the negative path of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM). FIH ' s international hockey rankings as of Sept 1, places Malaysia at 16th place.
How come we are behind nations like Canada , China , South Africa and Belgium when our infrastructure in terms of stadium facilities and support by the government are either the same or ahead of them?
The problem lies in developmental measures and the mechanisms. This infrastructural weaknesses have not been tackled for decades. We are not producing enough good players continuously which results in our national team lacking consistency as the same players know that even if they don ' t train hard, they will still don national colors.
We need competitiveness. Wake up, MHF! By the next World Cup, I am certain we will be relegated further behind the US , France and Ireland if no serious action is taken now. Forget about qualifying and look at the developmental measures immediately.
It is at the schools where the future Sarjit Singhs, Poon Fook Lokes, Khairuddin Zainals and Mahendrans lie. Spot them young, nurture them and ensure the processes are in place in the system to produce quality players.
Collaborate in partnership with the Education Ministry and emulate the ' best management hockey practices ' of Korea and Japan . From the statistics of missing the last two World Cup toournaments and several Olympics, it appears MHF is bankrupt of ideas and needs far-reaching focus and ambition.
Even the respective state hockey associations have followed into and continued in this rut where even the state league championships are non-existent in certain states. Let ' s face reality and check the rot. Please don ' t let Malaysians give up on hockey as they totally have on soccer.
National Sports Council Director General Dato Zolkples Embong has in two media articles endorsed Tai Beng Hai to continue to carry on as coach of the national team.
So really coming from a head honcho like Zolkples must surely count as something for Beng Hai. We have not spoke about Beng Hai in this past week as we allow him to grieve his fathers demise with his family.
However these statements clear show that some developments are taking place. But factually there is something wrong as Stephen van Huizen was the coach of the team when they qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympics via Qualifiers in Japan in 1999.
The following is what appeared in Harian Metro on Thursday:
Dalam pada itu, Zolkples tetap berpuas hati dengan prestasi Tai Beng Hai yang hampir memastikan skuad negara mara ke Piala Dunia 2010 apabila layak ke final kelayakan tapi tewas 2-1 kepada tuan rumah, New Zealand, minggu lalu.
Menurutnya, setakat ini, pencapaian Beng Hai adalah yang terbaik di kalangan jurulatih tempatan yang pernah membimbing pasukan kebangsaan dan berharap pemain sedia ada dikekalkan kerana yakin potensi gabungan muka lama dan baru dalam skuad itu.
While the following is what the NSC DG said on Friday in Utusan Malaysia:
"Kami gembira dengan Beng Hai dan menganggapnya jurulatih tempatan terbaik pernah kita ada berdasarkan pencapaian bersama skuad muda negara ini.
"Namun MSN mengambil sikap terbuka dengan memberi PHM ruang untuk membuat pilihan. Terserahlah kepada mereka untuk menentukannya sama ada untuk menggantikannya dengan jurulatih asing," katanya, kelmarin.
Monday, November 16, 2009
He jokes with his teammates, has an unassuming character and is charming especially to his lady fans.
But Andrew is a lethal weapon, especially when he lines up on the top of the semi circle.
And Malaysians who were glued to their television sets, watching the live telecast of the decisive match between Malaysia and New Zealand for the sole berth to the 2010 World Cup will not forget him easily.
For the 24 years old Auckland based player destroyed Malaysian aspirations of playing in the World Cup with two clinical strikes off penalty corners in the 57th and 60th minutes.
It took him just three minutes to douse the Malaysian fire that was burning for much of the match.
“We knew that the Malaysian first runner (Baljit) was good as he denied us in the preliminary round match,” said Andrew.
“So after Shaw had not had much success with the first four penalty corners, my task was to keep the ball low and put it past the keepers left. And it worked as I scored two.”
For his efforts, Andrew was named as the top scorer of the tournament with seven goals, piping his teammates Simon Child and Nicholas Wilson.
Andrew made his debut against Holland in January 2007 and has scored 13 international goals thus far, the two against Malaysia being the most memorable.
“Shaw is the first choice drag flicker for us but I aim to keep him on his toes,” said Andrew.
Kumar failed to stop New Zealand from scoring twice in the final, and that put paid to the hopes of the Malaysian team to qualify on merit for the World Cup for only the second time since 1982.
Malaysia hosted the World Cup in 2002 and qualified to play in the 1998 edition. Hence this failure means that Malaysia has to wait until the 2014 World Cup, and Kumar who is 31 will probably not last that long.
That is why he was hugely disappointed with the failure at Invercargill, especially since he has failed in four qualifiers in a row.
Kumar was in the team for the 2004 Olympic Qualifiers in Madrid, the 2006 World Cup Qualifiers in China and the 2008 Olympic Qualifiers in Japan, and he was hoping that it would be third time lucky, but the Black Sticks dealt him a blow.
“It was really disappointing especially since we were only 13 minutes away from a place in the World Cup,” said the Tampin born custodian.
“We wasted this opportunity as this was probably our best chance to make it to the World Cup. It will only get tougher after this.”
Kumar however has no intention of retiring from playing hockey as he harbors hopes of playing at the 2012 London Olympics.
And in order to do that Malaysia has to either win gold at the 2010 Asian Games or take the tougher route through the qualifiers.
“My aim is to play in the Olympics as I missed two Olympics so far due to our failure to make it through the qualifiers,” said Kumar.
“So we need to start preparing now for the Asian Games as it will be tough with the likes of Pakistan, India and South Korea.
Among those who had tears in his eyes was team manager George Koshy, and players S. Kumar, Mohd Madzli Ikmar, Mohd Shukri Mutalib and Jiwa Mohan, mainstays of the team over the years.
Malaysia has only themselves to blame for missing out on the World Cup as they had only 13 minutes to hold out after taking the lead in the 18th minute through Muhd Razie Abdul Rahim.
But the defence cracked, as the youngsters clearly did not have to ability to handle the pressure cooker situation, especially when New Zealand opted to turn the screws by attacking on Malaysia’s left.
After keeping out the Black Sticks world-class penalty corner ace Hayden Shaw for the first four penalty corners awarded, Malaysia fell to two strikes of Andrew Hayward, heir apparent to Shaw.
“We were unlucky that New Zealand upped the tempo in the closing stages of the match and we fumbled when in possession,” said coach Tai Beng Hai.
“I give credit to my players for making a game out of this especially since many had wrote us off initially.
“Of course it is a sad day for Malaysian hockey but I hope good comes out of this failure as we have along way to go to match the top teams.
“What is important is we play in quality tournaments and expose the younger players.”
Malaysia were awarded three penalty corners before New Zealand struck the killer blows and it was surprising that Malaysia did not plan for a secret variation given that it was a crucial stage of the match.
And keeping the experienced Madzli on the bench until the 69th minute also did not help the Malaysian cause, especially when Malaysia should have closed that match by packing the defence.
We were tactically outclassed and outfoxed by Shane McLeod, period.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
For in half an hour’s time the New Zealand All Whites (football team) takes on Bahrain in the second leg of the World Cup Qualifiers in Wellington.
So within the next 24 hours New Zealand could have two teams in the World Cup, both hockey and football, or ironically suffer the ignominy of seeing both teams miss out on the World Cup, which will make it a black Sunday for the Kiwis.
While the All Whites are underdogs against Bahrain to qualify for the 2010 South Africa FIFA World Cup, the Black Sticks are odds on favourites to win the berth for the New Delhi Hockey World Cup.
Standing in their way is resilient Malaysia, who upset 13th ranked China for a place in the final, which will get underway at 3.00pm local time (10.00am Malaysian Time).
For the record, Malaysia and New Zealand have met a total of 51 times over the years with New Zealand ahead in the matches won, with 27 while Malaysia has won 12 matches with another 12 matches ending in draws. While New Zealand has scored a total of 105 times against Malaysia, they have conceded 71 goals.
Those are statistics that divide the two teams, but the final will be a different proposition altogether
For once the sun broke through the clouds at Invercargill when Malaysia took on China, and the end result was fantastic for the Malaysians as they won 3-0 and booked a place in the final.
Kelvinder Singh, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Nabil Fitri Mohd Nor scored the goals as the Malaysians upset the formbook, shrugging of a difficult week, with inconsistency as well as a leaky defence to outclass the Chinese.
Coach Tai Beng Hai made a sensible decision to make changes to the defence, opting to leave out skipper Mohd Madzli Ikmar after the New Zealand match and bringing Mohd Razie Abd Rahim into the heart of defence to partner the likes of Jiwa Mohan, Mohd Amin Rahim and Baljit Singh.
In midfield, Mohd Shukri Mutalib, Jiwa Mohan and Mohd Shahrun Nbil have been doing well, keeping the engine room running with their hrd work and ingenuity by spraying passes behind the opponents defence.
The inclusion of S. Selvarajoo to partner Azlan Misron and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin in attack is akin to a breath of fresh air as he has provided decisiveness with his penetrating runs.
Faisal Saari and Nabil Fiqri when brought into the fray are able to blend into the strikeforce without disruptions while Kelvinder Singh, rested for much of the tournament, has this uncanny knack of popping up at the right place at the right time.
The journalists in the media centre were impressed by what they saw in Kelvinder, for he scored the first and created the second goal and asked Beng Hai as to why was he not in the pitch for longer periods.
“Kelvinder has just recovered from an injury and is slow on the turn. Hence I use him in attack rather then his normal position which is in midfield,” explained Beng Hai.
On the chances of the team against New Zealand, who beat them 4-2 in the preliminary round, Beng Hai sounded optimistic for the first time.
“We were not even expected to make the final but here we are. It is a totally new ball game and whoever takes their chances will be in New Delhi next year,” said Beng Hai.
“We have nothing to lose as the home team are expected to do the double on us. But we are prepared for them as our players are confident when facing the Kiwis.”
And Beg Hai could be right as veteran journalist Pat Rowley puts it, “ It is always difficult to beat a team twice.”
The Kiwi bubble will burst, but will Malaysia be able to do the honours?
By: Brendon Egan
The Southland Times
Hockey Southland chairwoman Penny Simmonds has issued a rallying call for Southland sports fans to get out and support the Black Sticks this weekend.
Crowd numbers at this week's World Cup qualifier tournament at Turnbull Thomson Park in Invercargill have been down considerably on those at the Oceania Cup, held at the same venue in August. But Simmonds was optimistic there would be a pleasing turnout for the final tomorrow, with the Black Sticks already assured of a spot in the decider.
"The indication is that the crowds are going to be good for Saturday and Sunday," Simmonds said yesterday. "It's a really rare event to have six international teams of any sport here."
The attendance at tomorrow's final should be bolstered with a busload of fans from Dunedin and Central Otago making the trip to Invercargill.
Hockey New Zealand director Ramesh Patel said he had been disappointed by the crowds attending, but believed it had a lot to do with the bad weather that had hit the deep south this week. Aside from the weather, the Oceania track cycling championships have been on at the ILT Velodrome at night-time this week, with many youngsters also busy with secondary school and tertiary examinations. Patel was hopeful tomorrow's final could attract "a couple of thousand" people, with a ticket to next year's men's World Cup in India riding on the result.
Simmonds stressed it was important Southlanders supported the event if they wanted to see the Black Sticks playing in Invercargill again.
The Southland Times
Hockey enjoys a devout following in Malaysia and this week three men have been tasked with the job of relaying information back home to fanatical fans.
TV3 reporter Al Shaiful Nazib Talib, his cameraman Ahmad Khairi Osman, and journalist Satwant Singh, who writes for The Malay Mail newspaper and two other blogs, have been among the busiest men at the week-long World Cup qualifier tournament in Invercargill.
It's an important one for Malaysia, who would desperately love to feature at the World Cup for the first time since 2002. The Malaysian men's side have been in a steady state of decline since winning silver at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games and desperately need to win this weekend's tournament to give the game a much needed lift back home.
"Hockey was popular in 1975, when we we hosted the World Cup," Singh said.
"Every kid wanted to play hockey. We had a revival at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. The failure to qualify for the Athens Olympics meant hockey took a turn for the worse."
Talib said there was plenty of interest in this week's qualifying tournament back in Malaysia with between 2 million and 5 million people following his hockey stories on the television news bulletin.
"The hope is so high. We want to qualify for the World Cup. Luckily, New Zealand helped us (on Thursday)," he laughed.
Hockey is the most popular sport in Malaysia behind football and badminton and Singh said a failure to qualify for the World Cup would leave Malaysians supporters heartbroken.
"There would be huge disappointment back home. Our target was to end up in the top 12 by this year. To be in the top 12 in the world, we have to play in the World Cup and we are not going to be in the World Cup."
The sport is well financed in Malaysia with players training fulltime and their every need catered for. Both Malaysians journalists believed that had to change in the future if they were to improve as a hockey nation.
"There was no such thing as fulltime training prior to 1998 ... In some countries, professionalism is not the way yet," Singh said.
He believed the national side could improve on their world ranking in the future with more players playing in the European and Australian leagues and experienced players staying on with the team rather than retiring once they hit 30 years of age.
Singh said a revamp of the whole Malaysian hockey system was also required.
"We can't keep doing the same things we've been doing the last 10 years. In order to take two steps forward, we have to take one step back ... and do away with fulltime training."
The Malaysian reporters were impressed with the Black Sticks at this week's tournament ands aid they had built a side that could realistically challenge for glory at the 2012 London Olympics and next year's World Cup – if they can qualify with a win tomorrow.
New Zealand 4
7th minute - Phillip Burrows - FG
24th minute - Simon Child - FG
29th minute - Priyesh Bhana - FG
67th minute - Simon Child - FG
37th minute - Stephen Dick - FG
51st minute - Mark Ralph - PC
56th minute - Rufus McNaught Barrington - PC
Friday, November 13, 2009
Malaysia crosses sticks against China in a crucial match at Invercargill at 2.00pm local time, which is five hours ahead of Malaysia (so it will be 9.00am in Malaysia).
All China needs to do is draw the match and it will ensure them a place in Sunday’s final against hosts New Zealand. Malaysia has to win to deny China the final slot.
Failure by the Malaysians will lead to all kinds of speculations back home with the buck being pushed from one person to another. And typical to MHF standards, no one person will stand up and take responsibility.
But to talk about it is early days as Malaysia has a chance to make the final at the very least. Lets not even talk about defeating New Zealand and progressing to the World Cup yet. Personally I hope Malaysia makes the final, defeats the Black Sticks in front of their home fans and book the berth to New Delhi.
However lets talk about China first for overcoming the team that we have lost to in our last two meetings is vital to keep the glimmer of hope flickering in our quest to make the World Cup on merit, for only the third time in 27 years.
China is without five players who played the Asia Cup in Kuantan six months ago. They struggled to get past Scotland, Austria and Wales, winning all three matches with identical 2-1 score lines. And the Kiwis beat them 6-1.
But somehow I have doubts that China played to form in the match against New Zealand. They held back and were obviously giving the Malaysians a false sense of hope.
Malaysia too have been struggling in the tournament, playing well only in the opening 35 minutes and crumbling in the second 35. The defenders play as if they are in a China shop, afraid to use their physique to make tackles and making elementary mistakes in the semi circle to give away penalty corners.
And the forwards are guilty of losing possession easily thus allowing the opponents liberty to attack with ease.
But if there is anything in common as so far as China and Malaysia are concerned, it is their displeasure on the standard of umpiring in the tournament.
The two Asian teams have been victims of biased umpiring, especially when facing the Black Sticks. And the irony is that it is not Caucasian umpires that are responsible for this, as it is the Asians or Asian background umpires that are guilty of appeasing some quarters.
More of that and the organization in my review.
Let us pray that we get past China first and get a chance to play the Kiwis again.
Malaysia led Scotland 3-0 at half time with two goals from 18-year-old Faisal Saari and a penalty stroke converted by Mohd Amin Rahim.
And for the third time within a week, the Malaysian players allowed their opponents back into the match in the second half. Against Austria last Saturday, Malaysia ended up with a 2-2 draw after a taking a 2-0 lead at halftime while the same happened against Wales the next day where a 2-0 lead was almost lost as Wales could only muster a goal in reply.
In the match against Scotland, had the match gone for another five minutes, Malaysia would have conceded the equalizer, but prevailed to win 3-2 and in the process stay in the hunt for a place in Sunday’s final and more importantly a shot for the World Cup berth.
“We got the result we wanted, and to me what is more important is the three points,” said coach Tai Beng Hai.
“Our defence lost possession in crucial moments and that allowed the Scots back into the match. But we have a chance now and I believe if we play as what we did against the Kiwis, we can overcome China for a place in the final.
“My instructions were simple at halftime, that is to hold on to the ball and create openings. But we failed to hold on to the ball and almost paid the price for it.”
Beng Hai made changes to the defence and left out skipper Mohd Madzli Ikmar, opting to play Mohd Razie, Jiwa Mohan, Mohd Amin and Baljit Singh in defence. Faisal Saari was fielded in attack in place of Razie.
However the defence crumbled in the second half as the Malaysians were not patient and rather then let Scotland come at them, opted to attack thus leaving gaps in defence.
The players lost the initiative when Scotland reduced the deficit via Kenneth Bain in the 37th minute and were akin to lost sheep when Stephen Dick made it 2-3 with 21 minutes to play.
Luckily it was Scotland that they were facing for any other team would have found the third goal and sent Malaysia packing. But they lived to fight another day and it will be left to be seen if they have the tenacity to match the spirited but weakened Chinese who really are here with an in-experienced side.
Hosts New Zealand awaits the winner of the match between China and Malaysia, which will be played on Saturday. Ironically it will be the last match of the preliminary round.
As it stands, China need a draw while Malaysia has to win and get a second shot at the Black Sticks. Yesterday, Malaysia scrapped past Scotland 3-2 while the free scoring Kiwis hammered China into a 6-1 submission. In another match Austria defeated Wales 2-0.
Though China have beaten Malaysia in their last two meeting, New Zealand coach Shane McLeod and Scotland coach Russel Garcia have both tipped for Malaysia to defeat the Chinese and book a place in Sunday’s final.
“Given a choice I rather play China in the final, especially after our performance today,” said McLeod.
“Both Malaysia and New Zealand have played each other often and are aware of what needs to be done so it may prove a bit difficult to play Malaysia. But the little bit I have seen of Malaysia today, I believe they are capable of defeating the Chinese and I believe only one goal will separate the two teams.”
Garcia was more direct in his assessment of the crucial match.
“I will pick Malaysia to win the match simply because they are improving as the tournament progresses,” said Garcia.
“Both the teams struggled against us and what I noticed is that Malaysia play with more desire and are experienced but have the tendency to fade away in a game. Consistence is what they need if the want to play in the final.”
However China remain upbeat that they can make the date with New Zealand at the expense of Malaysia.
“We really did not expect the margin of defeat against the Kiwis. But that is over and we are focused on getting the result we need against Malaysia,” said China coach Zhuang Xiodong.
“Though we need a draw, we will not defend and allow Malaysia to dictate play. I believe we will do enough against Malaysia and look forward to a re-match against New Zealand on Sunday.”
As the seconds were ticking away during the Malaysia and Scotland match, 23.4 seconds left on the clock, the hooter sounded from the technical table.
While the Malaysian players started celebrating as they scrapped past the Scottish side 3-2, there was utter confusion at the technical bench for the official in charge of the time keeping, Jeff Brown from New Zealand, had accidentally pressed to hooter, thus bringing to halt the proceedings.
“It was a malfunction of the equipment and it should not have happened at this level,” said Tournament Director Sarinder Dhillon.
“I am glad that the two teams showed good sporting spirit and the match was concluded without any issue arising from the unfortunate incident.”
Though it may be considered as a mistake, the two umpires were also guilty of confusing the teams further by their delay in re-starting the match. Scotland were rightfully aggrieved at Satinder Kumar of India and Saleem Aaron of USA as they re-started the match with the bully at the wrong location as Scotland were in full flight, near the Malaysian semi circle, but the match was re-started on the left.
And the technical bench, maybe in their way of appeasing the Scots, played an extra seven seconds but Malaysia managed to hang on.
In another development, the Sarinder Dhillon has confirmed that he will review the yellow card issued to Malaysian skipper Mohd Madzli Ikmar in the match against New Zealand.
“The card stands for now but should the said player receive another yellow card and faces suspension, I will take into account the decision made on the yellow card incident before deciding if the player warrants any suspension,” said Dhillon.
“I have clarified this issue with the Malaysian Team Manager (George Koshy) after he met me to discuss some issues arising from the match against New Zealand. I have taken note of is concerns and rest assured we will review it should the need arise.”
Thursday, November 12, 2009
New Zealand 6
11th minute - Andrew Hayward - PC
14th minute - Andrew Hayward - PC
30th minute - Phillip Burrows - FG
46th minute - Simon Child - FG
52nd minute - Simon Child - FG
55th minute - Hayden Shaw - PC
68th minute - Dong Yang - PC
18th minute - Michael Korper - PC
50th minute - Benjamin Starzl - FG
7th minute - Faisal Saari - FG
27th minute - Faisal Saari - FG
34th minute - Mohd Amin Rahim - PS
38th minute - Kenneth Bain - FG
49th minute - Stephen Dick - FG
Any other result then a win will diminish that little flickering hope and aspirations of the Malaysians to make it to New Delhi next year.
And going by the patchy performances, predicting a Malaysian victory is not something that one will do as the Jekyll and Hyde character of the team off late has left even the staunchest of supporters dumbfounded.
For the record, Malaysia last defeated Scotland 1-0, goal courtesy of Mohd Fairus Ramli during an Invitational Tournament held in Dacca in 2001. Prior to that Malaysia recorded two wins during the Intercontinental Cup in Cairo, 2-0 in the group stage and 3-1 in the placing match.
So going by past records Malaysia should be able to beat Scotland. However going by past records we will not be able to qualify to the World Cup. So really records remain mere statistics.
“We have our backs to the wall and nothing less then a win will do,” said coach Tai Beng Hai.
“Scotland are improving as the tournament progresses and we have to be careful not to be over eager to score as that will leave us exposed at the back.
“Defensively we have been a bit frail as at times the defenders make silly mistakes in their haste to preserve our lead as evident in matches against Austria and Wales.
“So it is a question of keeping our composure and being patient throughout the game. If we make use of the chances created, I see no reason why we cannot win the match.”
The reality is that Malaysia does not have depth in terms of players and that has stood up like a sore thumb in the tournament.
There is just so much that coaches Beng Hai and Nor Saiful Zaini can do given the quality of players that they have at Invercargill. When Mohd Madzli Ikmar was injured against New Zealand, Beng Hai had to bring Mohd Razie to play the rightback role and move Jiwa Mohan into the heart of defence to partner Mohd Amin Rahim.
Although Madzli has recovered sufficiently to take the field against Scotland, Beng Hai is likely to opt for Jiwa Mohan in midfield, thus keeping the back four of Razie, Amin, Madzli and Baljit Singh.
By Mohd Madzli Ikmar
For us the battle begins today against Scotland. There are no two ways about it as this is a match that we have to win.
We have churned out inconsistent performances and although some may think of it as offering excuses, the truth is that the weather has affected our performances.
Winds, at times blowing to speeds of 20 knots have affected the players and when it blows directly into your face, it can be quite difficult to concentrate on the play.
But we have played three matches and are coming to terms with the conditions and the next two matches are a severe test for the players and coaches.
No one wants to lose matches and I am happy that the players showed resilience in coming back from two goals down to draw level against New Zealand the other day.
It was due to some questionable decisions by match officials that led to our players losing their composure and the match eventually.
Suffice to say that we will run to the ground in our quest to collect the three points, wind or no wind, it’s a win we are gunning for.
But that could well be replaced today as Garcia plots the downfall of the Malaysian team.
A win over the much fancied Malaysians will add a feather in Garcia’s cap as a coach for he only took over as coach of the team two months ago.
“Having seen Malaysia struggle against European opposition has given my team confidence that we can get a positive result from the match,” said Garcia.
“We will let Malaysia dictate play and opt to break them down with fast counter attacks as they have been vulnerable when these tactics are used.”
The assessment by Garcia was strengthened by New Zealand ace penalty corner marksman Hayden Shaw.
Shaw, who played 12 minutes in each half against Malaysia did enough when he was on the pitch as his penalty corner strike gave the Black sticks a 3-2 lead. They eventually won 4-2.
“Malaysia are really good when they play against teams that are stronger then them” contends Shaw.
“However when they play weaker teams, the players seem lost as to what to do, thus allowing the opponents to catch them off guard.
“This has to do with the fact that Malaysia often plays against top teams but tend to leave out weaker opponents in their preparations.”
Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod perhaps best summed up the erratic performances of the Malaysians.
“You have players that are technically sound but tactically weak. So until you address this issue, things are likely to remain the same,” said McLeod.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
They have won all three matches thus far, against Scotland, Austria and Wales with identical 2-1 scores and will face New Zealand and Malaysia on Thursday and Saturday respectively.
In the match against Wales, China had to comeback from a goal down to secure three points. Wales scored through Andrew Cornick in the 44th minute but China replied via Liu Yixian off a penalty corner three minutes later.
Na Yubo, who has the looks of a Shaolin Master, scored the winner in the 57th minute.
With nine points in the bag and in second place in the standings, China need to draw against Malaysia to book a place in the final on Sunday, irrespective if they lose to hosts New Zealand.
For the record, China and Malaysia have crossed sticks 32 times over the years, with Malaysia winning 21 matches, China 6 and the remaining 5 ending in draws.
China have however won the last two meetings, a 4-3 penalty stroke win after a 3-3 regulation time draw in the ¾ placing match during the Asia Cup as well as a 2-1 win in Beijing in 2007.
Ranked 13th in the world, the Chinese team did not have the best of preparations for the tournament as their National Games only ended on October 28. And the team got together only three days before the tournament commenced, arriving at noon a day before the qualifiers got underway.
The Chinese replaced their Asia Cup coach Guo Jie with Zhuang Xiodong who was the assistant to Kim Sang Ryul since 2005 preparing for the Beijing Olympics.
That was not the only change made as five players who played in the Asia Cup in Kuantan in May have been replaced by younger players.
“We are here with the strongest available squad and I m confident that we can win the ticket to the World Cup,” said coach Zhuang.
“The players are still tired after the National Games but we are slowly getting our rhythm and should be able to surprise in our last two matches.
“Realistically it is the match against Malaysia that will determine our fate as the Kiwis are very strong at the moment.”
Zhuang said that two of their better players Song Yi and Jiang Xishiang are playing in the Dutch League. And the national federation decided against requesting the players to return for the qualifiers.
“The experience that the two players will gain by playing in the Dutch League will serve China well in the years to come,” contends Zhuang.
“We have capable replacements and though we want to make it to the World Cup, we are looking towards the future and we realize the importance of exposure.”
While it was not a formal protest, team manager George Koshy made his point clear to Tournament Director Satinder Dhillon that Malaysia were victims of poor umpiring decisions.
The Malaysian camp was incensed with the two set of rules applied by the umpires, Colin Hutchinson of Ireland and Marcin Grochal of Poland, both of whom were guilty of letting off players from the home team for tackles and unsporting like behavior.
Dean Couzins should have been sent off for mocking Azlan Misron with monkey sounds after the Kiwis scored the second goal. However Grochal opted to give him a verbal warning though the incident occurred right in front of him.
However the Malaysians were punished for rather innocuous incidents that did not warrant yellow cards had the umpires been fair in their approach towards the match.
The two yellow cards that the Malaysian camp is disputing were flashed to Mohd Shukri Abdul Mutalib and skipper Mohd Madzli Ikmar in the 56th and 70th minutes respectively.
While Shukri received the card for a harsh decision of playing the ball above his shoulder, the incident involving Madzli was more bizarre.
Jiwa Mohan and Simon Child were involved in a scuffle that saw players from both sides sizing each other up, with a lot of shoving and pushing. The two umpires lost the plot and tried to figure out who the two players that started the fracas.
And since the rules imply that the skipper was responsible towards the conduct of his players, Madzli who at that time was on the bench, was shown the yellow card. As a result Malaysia had to withdraw a player from the pitch and Azlan Misron left the field.
But none of the New Zealand players were sent off for the incident, which showed that the umpires were not fit to umpire a match of such importance.
And with fate no longer in their hands, Malaysia can only hope that New Zealand field their best team against China on Thursday and win while Malaysia has to win at all costs against China on Saturday to make the final and have a shot for the World Cup.
“We were on the receiving end of some poor decisions by the umpires,” said coach Tai Beng Hai.
“When we drew level, we had control of the match but the umpires started making decisions that rattled our players. After that our players started losing their focus and allowed soft goals.
“We may have lost the battle today and there is still the war to be won. So winning the next two matches will give us a chance to face New Zealand again and try win the berth to New Delhi.”
Malaysia may have paid a heavy price in the defeat as skipper Mohd Madzli Ikmar limped off after being struck on the thigh and could be doubtful for the crucial clash against Scotland on Thursday.
New Zealand took a 2-0 lead in the opening ten minutes, thanks to goals by Simon Child in the 6th minute and Phillip Burrows in the 10th minute. While Simon’s goal was as a result of a neat penalty corner variation, the second goal conceded was a result of poor marking.
But for once in the tournament Malaysia showed their mental strength, reducing the deficit via Azlan Misron in the 30th minute.
After the break, it was a different Malaysian team. S. Selvarajoo, who played a total of five minutes in the last two matches, showed his skills to break free on the right to lay a pass to youngster Faisal Saari to draw Malaysia level in the 44th minute.
However a mistake by Mohd Amin Rahim resulted in a penalty corner in the 52nd minute, which Hayden Shaw dispatched with ease to give the Black Sticks a 3-2 lead. Simon consolidated the lead in the 62nd minute and Malaysia has a mountain to climb.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Read about the match against NZ in The Malay Mail tomorrow or at this blog after 8am Malaysin time for some news live from Invercargill.
Heads are bound to roll....but whose...