Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Heart break for UniKL

Failure to defend well cost UniKL a place in the semi final of the knockout tournament of the MHL as they went down 2-3 against Tenaga Nasional.

UniKL twice came back from a goal down but defensive frailties cost them the match.

And coach Arul Selvaraj was not at all happy with their performance.

" We were poor in Defence and missed the presence of Baljit Singh who was injured," said Arul.

" And it was our failure to take chances that put paid our hopes of progressing.

" Overalll it was a good performance by the younger players in both teams that showed composure and maturity.

"Though we lost but overall Malaysian Hockey won as the match was highly entertaining and the youngsters showed that they can play good Hockey."

In the first round match Tenaga Nasional defeated Uitm- KPT 11-0 while UniKL edged Maybank 1-0.

However in the league the two teams had contrasting fortunes over last weekend.

TNB held two giants, KLHC and THT to draws, 2-2 and 4-4 respectively.

But UniKL who held KLHC to a 1-1 draw succumbed to a 1-2 defeat against Maybank.

TNB were awarded a penalty corner in the 3rd minute and Syed Syafiq Choulan sent a drag flick that UniKL keeper James Caragh could only parry into goal to give TNB a 1-0 lead.

UniKL were awarded two penalty corners in the second quarter but poor push outs caused them to be wasted.

It was the same old story for UniKL in the first few minutes of the third quarter as another two penalty corners went begging.

Amir Farid should have given TNB a two goal lead in the 40th minute as he only had Caragh to beat in goal but failed to get the better of the Irish custodian.

Hafiz Zainol scored the equaliser in the 50th minute as his attempted cross was deflected past TNB keeper S.Kumar by his own defender Shazril Irwan.

But Nik Aiman put TNB ahead again in the 53rd minute when he hammered home from close range.

Skipper Najmi Farizal Jazlan made it all square for UniKL scoring off a penalty corner in the 55th minute.

TNB scored the winner in the 57th minute with Syed Safiq once again finding the mark off a penalty corner.

In other quarterfinal matches THT edged KLHC 3-2 while SSTMI defeated Politeknik KPT 3-0 in a shoot out after the match ended 1-1 in regulation time.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

UniKL ready for Maybank

Having managed to get a point off table toppers KL Hockey Club has boosted the confidence of the youngsters from UniKL.

It has been a good week for UniKL as they defeated Tenaga Nasional last Sunday and followed that up with a win over Maybank in the knockout tournament.

And the 1-1 draw against the vastly stronger KLHC side on Friday will no doubt spur the team to a better showing in the league match against Maybank at the Pantai Hockey Stadium tomorrow.

Despite having beaten Maybank 1-0 in the knock out tournament, UniKL are well aware that past results count for nothing.

" While we are happy with the results, we have our feet firmly on the ground," said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj.

" Though we had beaten Maybank in a match last week, it is entirely a different proposition this time around.

" We need to be more clinical in a match and take the chances we create as at times we are guilty of wasting chances."

UniKL have no injury worries except for youngster Mohd Sufi Ismat Rohulmin who is still recovering from three stitches on his knee.

Maybank were beaten 2-1 by Sapura but were denied of an equaliser in the 51st minute as video replays showed that they had the ball in the net but were denied by the umpire.

It was the same case for KLHC who were denied a second goal in their match against UniKL as Harvinder Singh had got a touch of the ball in the semi circle but was denied a legitimate goal.

UniKL too were at the receiving end as in their match against Maybank, their opponents had 11 players on the field despite a player from each team being yellow carded. They got away without any penalty against them though it was agreed that the captain will be issued a green card for such infringements.

" I have told my players to play to the whistle but at the same time hope that the Technical Committee has a serious look at some decisions ," added Arul.

UniKL hold mighty KLHC

UniKL created an upset of sorts when they held table toppers KL Hockey Club to a 1-1 draw at the Pantai Hockey Stadium.

It was the fighting spirit of the young UniKL side that saw them be the first team to take a point of the KLHC team that were expected to steam roll past them.

KLHC had won both their opening weekend matches, defeating Terengganu HT 2-1 and Sapura 5-2 while UniKL were beaten 3-0 by Sapura before bouncing back to edge Tenaga Nasional Berhad 1-0.

" I must say the boys showed tremendous spirit and were not daunted by the fact that they were up against a formidable side," said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj.

" We absorbed the pressure well and slowed down the pace in the initial three quarters to break their rhythm.

" To us the draw is as good as a win and I hope that this match will give confidence to the players to start believing in themselves."

KLHC forced the first penalty corner of the match in the 3rd minute and Korean import Nam Hyun Woo sent in a Low drag flick that beat UniKL custodian , James Caragh all the way.

UniKL were on the back foot for the entire first quarter as they failed to make much headway.

It was a much changed UniKL approach in the second half as they managed to reign control of the midfield but did not create any goal worthy chances.

KLHC had two more penalty corners but Meor Mohammad failed to stop cleanly from one while Ahmad Kazamirul sent the other attempt wide.

Off their second penalty corner in the 50th minute UniKL found their equaliser as Mohammad Tousiq sent in a deft drag flick after being set up by Najmi Farizal from a delightful set-piece.

The goal gave confidence to the UniKL players as they help the marauding KLHC players at bay.

In the final minute KLHC were awarded a penalty corner but keeper Caragh pulled off a brilliant save to deny them all three points.

In another match Sapura defeated Maybank 2-1 at the Bukit Serindit Hockey Stadium in Malacca.

And TNB held defending champions Terengganu HT to a 4-4 draw.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

MHL from Jan- March! At the expense of national team!

It was announced last month that the Malaysian Hockey League will be held between January and March for the next three years.

This was done supposedly to give teams ample notice to prepare for the MHL as in the past the dates were never fixed.

As a result the MHL ended up being a tournament that was run for 6 to 8 weeks despite it being the premier Hockey tournament in the country.

However the grand plan may have already hit a snag as obviously no one took into account the FIH calendar when making the decision and announcement

This is because the World League round 2, which Malaysia will play in, is scheduled from March 25 to April 2 at Tunapuna , in Trinidad & Tobago.

Four teams have already been identified - hosts Trinidad & Tobago, Russia, Japan and Malaysia.

And just to jolt the memories of some, Trinidad & Tobago defeated us at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

For those who may not realise the significance and importance of world rankings, teams in the 1-11 bracket move into the semi final stages of the World League directly without playing Round 2.

There will be three Round 2 World Leagues with the first 3 in each tournament moving to the semi final of the World League.

So now we have the MHL from January to March, or it was assumed to be, when will the national team prepare itself?

Also with the women's team involved in the World League from 14-22 January, there is no possibility of the Women's National League being held earlier as well.

The teams competing in the Round 2 of the Women World League are Fiji, Ireland, Italy, Kazakstan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and a yet to be confirmed country.

Another issue that arises is the fate of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup which traditionally is held in the first 15 days in April.

This obviously has to be moved to May, thus putting another spanner in the works when it comes to determining dates for the MHL next year.

With the World League semis slated for June ( only one venue identified thus 
far , London from 15-25 June) the MHL will once again be moved.

In August is the SEA Games and from October 21 to 29, the 8th Asia Cup will be held, which is the final opportunity to seal a place in the 2018 World Cup.

Effectively the national team has a packed schedule from January till October, assuming we qualify from the Round 2 of the World League.

Failure to make the semis means a last shot of making the 2018 World Cup via the Asia Cup.

Since there are so many experts that rubbish rd this blogs suggestion to hold the MHL from November this year till January next year, it will be interesting to see the stop  gap measures being put in place to hold the MHL longer then the 6-8 week period that has been the case for the past few years.

A point will do for UniKL

Riding on two wins last weekend, UniKL are hoping for a positive outing against Giants KL Hockey Club in the Malaysian Hockey League Premier Division.

UniKL edged Tenaga Nasional Berhad in the league last Sunday and on Tuesday beat Maybank also 1-0 in the knockout tournament.

However they lost their opening match 0-3 to Sapura.

On the other hand, traditional power house KLHC got off to a rousing start by defeating defending league champions Terengganu Hockey Team 2-1 in their opening match before trashing Sapura 5-2.

Therefore UniKL are  bracing themselves for a harrowing outing against KLHC who look to be stronger this year despite not having the likes of Razie Rahim and Nabil Fiqri Mohd Nor.

And this game will have extra edge as two players from UniKL, Meor Mohammad and Haziq Shamsul crossed over to KLHC just a month before the MHL began.

" There is no doubt that KLHC are the favourites to win this match and getting even a point off them can be considered a victory of sorts," said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj.

"We need to be tight at the back and pack the midfield as they have quality players that can capitalise on half a chance.

" And then there is also the penalty corners that we need to avoid conceding as KLHC are deadly in this area."

UniKL have been relying a good tactical play to overcome their more Davies opponents thus far.

In players like Baljit Singh, Mohd Tousiq, Najmi Farizal, they have players that can spur the others to raise their game. 

" We need to focus on our game and not pay to much attention to any particular player in KLHC," added Arul.

"The first two quarters are important as we should not concede goals and that will hopefully add pressure on them.

" Realistically we have nothing to lose but everything to gain from this match."

And with that optimism Arul hopes his charges to rise to the occasion and give KLHC a run for their money. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

UniKL in last eight

UniKL qualified for the quarterfinals of the MHL Knock out tournament after edging Maybank 1-0 at the Pantai Hockey Stadium.

The solitary strike came off a penalty corner converted by Najmi Farizal in the 11th minute.

Maybank had their chances, even hitting the post once but failed to find the equaliser.

It was a good win for UniKL who were not given much of a chance to progress.

" The players did well though in terms of performance I would say there was a dip," said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj.

" But that was understandable as we played a league match on Sunday and the players felt they had lead in their legs,

" Nonetheless I am happy with the outcome as we now wait for the draw."

The draw is expected to take place only on Saturday, giving teams very little time to prepare for the last eight opponents.

In other matches Sapura defeated Nur Insafi 4-0, Tenaga Nasional Berhad defeated UTM-KPT 11-0, ATM Airod won on 4-3 shoot out against Ipoh City Hall after match ended 3-3,  SSTMI defeated BJSS 7-0 while Politeknik Malaysia edged TNB Thunderbolt 3-2.

UniKL edge TNB

UniKL edged Tenaga Nasional Berhad 1-0 to register their first win in the Malaysian Hockey League at the Pantai Hockey Stadium.

Both teams had lost their opening matches, UniKL 0-3 to Sapura while TNB were edged 3-4 by Maybank.

The win by UniKL was well deserved as they managed to hold back the TNB strike force for three quarters before delivering a killer blow five minutes from time.

In other matches today, KLHC trashed pre tournament favourites Sapura 5-2 while Terengganu Hockey Team hammered Maybank 5-1.

Both teams played rather cautiously in the opening two quarters and hardly made any noteworthy attempts at goal.

It was scoreless at halftime.

TNB were awarded the first penalty corner of the match in the 52nd minute but Shazril Izwan failed to find the mark.

UniKL adapted a more attacking  style and were rewarded as Ashran Hamsani sent a reverse hit that had TNB keeper S.Kumar beaten all the way in the 55th minute.

TNB were awarded another penalty corner a minute from time but failed to capitalise.

" We played a tight game at the back as we were aware they had fast forwards and tried to limit their movement," said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj.

" In the final quarter I told the players to play more attacking and we were duly rewarded.

" It was a tough match and the three points are a welcome relief after the opening defeat."

UniKL off to a bad start

UniKL put up a gallant performance against tournament favourites Sapura before going down 3-0 at the Tun Razak Stadium in their opening match of the Malaysian Hockey League.

It was a good performance from the young and inexperienced side as they held their own against their fancied opponents and really should have taken their chances.

However the overall performance was commendable and the UniKL side should be able to improve as the league progresses.

Although they lost, UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj praised his players for putting up a commendable performance.

" Considering that this was  our first match, the players displayed good technical skills and we need to work on the team work," said Arul.

" Finishing is another are we need to improve upon and one must be mindful of the fact that Sapura are the favourites for the league title.

" Though we did not take one pint off this match, I believe this serves as a perfect platform for improving in our coming matches. 

Sapura opened scoring in the  3rd minute via Faridzul Afiq Mohd. And in 10th minute Izad Hakimi scored off a penalty corner to make it 2-0.

Mohd Azrul Hasbullah made it 3-0 in the 49th minute.

In other matches, KL Hockey Club defeated fancied Terengganu Hockey Team 2-1 at Kuala Terengganu while at the KLHA Stadium in Pantai, Maybank edged TNB  4-3.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Why have rules?

For any foreign player to be eligible to play in the Malaysian Hockey League , they need to produce a Non Objection Certificate from their national Hockey association,

This is the requirement of the International Hockey Federation and not some local regulation. This has always been the case since the MHL commence in 1987 and this rule is etched in stone.

Therefore the furore of a player from India Gurbaj Singh now is the subject of interest as the registration of players for the MHL closed last month, when the teams were given a one week extension to formalise their signings.

The final list of players was then circulated by the MHC upon the closing of registration and everyone assumed that the 23 foreign players had their non objection certificates as per the rule.

Let's get one thing clear - if there was no clearance from the home country of the player, then he cannot be registered to play in the MHL.

Now the question is was the release letter in lay mans terms attached to the registration in the first place?

If there was none then the player did not meet the regulations and should not have been registered.

There is no such thing as register first and letter to follow as that document is akin to the international transfer certificate in Football.

MHC has now clarified that there some foreign players who did not attach the release letter from their home nation.

And MHC further stated that these clubs are now given until 24 hours before their first match to provide the no objection certificate failing which the player cannot play or be replaced.

So why have a registration date in the first place? Why have rules when some can change them to suit others? Was it a level playing field as some clubs fulfilled the requirement while two clubs did not? Will the rule be further extended to allow the other clubs to search for quality players?

The questions linger on but importantly the rule was not followed, period.

Put aside the issue of Hockey India and their grouses, what we want to know is why regulations are not enforced or was there a slip shod manner of registration?

Those who neglected their duties should be punished and if clubs cannot adhere to rules after 29 years of the MHL in existence, then really they have no business playing in the MHL.

Rather then address the matter, the fire fighting trained its hoses on a non issue, but all forget that we need to have rules and to adhere to rules, the same way we expect others. 

Expect more bending to come.