Jun 24, 2011


India will be looking for polo history on Malaysian soil when they take on Indian sub-continent rivals Pakistan in the Asian-Australasian-African Championships final at the Royal Selangor Polo Ground tomorrow (4pm).

India have never won an international polo tournament outside India and they want to make it count in Malaysia. And the Indians believe they have the team to do that.

A win for India will culminate their mission of going home with an unbeaten record after registering impressive victories over Australia and Malaysia in the preliminary rounds, followed by a 9-5 win over defending champions South Africa in the semi-finals to earn the favourites tag.

India last won an international polo title way back in 2000 and this was in the FIP World Cup Qualifier in Jaipur, India when they beat Pakistan 9-6 in front of 40,000 supporters to emerge champions. The last meeting between the two rivals was during the 2007 Qualifier in New Zealand, with India coming out tops 13 ½ - 11.

Apart from bringing a wealth of experience, the Indian team is reaping the fruits of a training-cum acclimatisation stint in Indonesia before coming to Malaysia. The Indians spent three weeks at the Nusantara Polo Club in Jakarta at the invitation of its president Gen Prabowo Subianto.

“The stint in Indonesia had a huge impact on the team as we got to train with 40 horses from Argentina under hot and humid weather conditions similar to Malaysia. It was a fruitful three-week stint in Jakarta,” said India manager Vikram Singh Rathore.

“It will be a great win if we can return home with the title as it will take polo to new heights in India. As I said earlier, we have assembled the best ever Indian polo team in 20 years that is capable of writing polo history. We are gelling very well.”

Pakistan manager Abdul Qadir Mamdot admitted that India has the edge and are early favourites for the title but in the same breath added that his team will not throw in the towel meekly.

“India will certainly start as favourites as they have experienced players who have been together for about four years. We have a young team. Temur (Nadeem) is making his international debut here but has come up well so far,” said Abdul Qadir.

The India-Pakistan final has certainly attracted a lot of attention back home. Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur, the vice-president of the Indian Polo Association has been with the team since the semi-finals while Gen Issandyar Pataudi, the president of the Pakistan Polo Association arrived today to boost the morale of their respective teams.

While India will be counting on their ace Samir Suhag (Handicap 5), who has scored 16 goals in this championships so far, Pakistan will be banking on Raja Sami Ullah (Handicap 4), a fulltime professional who has played in Argentina, United Kingdom and Dubai. Sami scored three goals in the semi-final match against Australia.

Meanwhile, Australia will join India and Pakistan in this year’s FIP Polo World Cup Finals in San Luis, Argentina from Oct 11-25 after beating South Africa in the playoff for third and fourth placing today.

It was a heartbreak for South Africa as Australia staged a remarkable fight back to force a 8-8 draw in the fifth and final chukka. In the extra chukka, Australia pushed up a gear to run out 12-9 winners and qualify for their 2nd world cup finals.

Australia got their goals through by Matt Grimes scoring 5 goals, 4 by Alec White, 2 by Ed Gold and 1 by Zac Hagedoorn while South Africa scorers were Lance Watson 7 goals and one each by Johann Du Preez and Campbell Macnab.

Jun 21, 2011

India v Pakistan Final ?

Based on current form, great polo rivals Pakistan and India, are the early favourites to reach the final in this year’s Asian-Australasian-African Polo Championships when they take on Australia and South Africa respectively in the semi-finals at the Royal Pahang Polo grounds here today

Even the absence of their ace Hissam Ali Hyder, a five goaler, who is currently playing professional polo in England, has not dampened Pakistan’s confidence. Hissam, better known as “Namu” in the polo world, has not been released by his club in England as he is needed for the semi-finals in the Queen’s Cup competition.

“With or without Hissam we are confident of reaching the final and qualify for the (FIP Polo World Cup) Finals,” said team manager Abdul Qadir Mamdot.

“We are in great form. Pakistan set a national scoring record with 28 goals in two matches. We are also the top scorers here and it has given us the confidence. Insyallah (God willing) we can maintain our current form.

“The absence of Hissam will not affect our game as we have Sami Ullah (Handicap 4) who has been in great form in our matches against Nigeria and Pakistan. Australia is a good side but we have a good strong attacking side to take them on.

“Hissam’s club in England could release him as his team is in the semi-finals. Hissam is a great player and has been recommended to increase his Handicap to 6. He is a great player. He is our No 1...very fast and very accurate. His presence would have made an effect on the team. ”

So far Pakistan have played in only one World Cup Finals and this was in Paris in 2003 but failed to make the second round.

Pakistan topped the table with 28 goals for and 17 against for a massive plus 11 goals after a 15 ½ - 7 and 12 ½ wins over Nigeria and South Africa respectively while India were second with a 17.5 and 10 against with a 7.5 plus tally derived from 5 ½ - 5 and 12-5 wins over Australia and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, India manager Vikram Rathore said the arrival of His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur is a “morale booster” to the team, especially in the semi-finals match against South Africa.

“We go into the match, having played a ‘high-pressure’ match against Australia. This has put us in the right frame of mind to face South Africa for a place in the final,” said Vikram, who is counting on hot-shot Samir Suhag, who scored seven goals against Malaysia and four against Australia.

“Hopefully, it will be an India-Pakistan final. We have great rivalry in polo. It will be good for Asian polo.”

India and South Africa go into the match on equal footing, with a win each in the two test matches they played earlier this year. India won 9-6 at home but lost 8-5 away.

South Africa coach Clive Peddle said: “It will be interesting semi-finals. It will be different when you play at this stage of the tournament. Our top priority is to qualify for the finals as we won the last Qualifier in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Malaysia ended their campaign with a sixth placing in the seven-team championships which also counted as the Zone D Qualifier for this year’s FIP Polo World Cup Finals in Argentina from Oct 11-25.

In today’s round robin playoffs played over two chukkas, Malaysia had mixed fortunes, beating Nigeria 5 1/2 – 5 in the first match but lost 3 – 2 ½ to New Zealand.

Malaysia finished sixth, Nigeria, seventh while New Zealand took fifth place after a 3-3 draw against Nigeria.

The champions, the runners-up and the third place winner will qualify for the World Cup Finals.

Jun 20, 2011


Malaysia’s crushing 12-5 defeat to India which put paid to their hopes of playing in the FIP Polo World Cup Finals, saw its first casualty in the national team when Muhammad Edham Shaharuddin announced that he is quitting international duty.

From now on the 36-year-old Pekan-born Edham or Ed, as he is popularly known, who started playing polo at the age of 16, said it will be only league and club tournaments for him.

The on-going Asian-Australasian-African Polo Championships also serve as the Zone D Qualifier for the World Cup Finals. The champions, runners-up and the third place winner will go to the Finals which will be held in San Luis, Argentina from Oct 11-25.

Malaysia beat New Zealand 9-8 in their first match but the defeat to India proved costly, leaving the hosts with a minus 6 goal difference.

“I have yet to overcome the heavy defeat. I had a sleepless night and kept tossing and turning in bed to find answers for the defeat. It is all over for me. This is my last international tournament playing for my country.

“The next World Cup Finals is in 2014, by which time I will be 39 and I don’t think I will be able to last the pace. This defeat is a bitter pill to swallow. It is a sad way to go out of the World Cup in this manner.

“It is all the more disappointing for me because I am playing in my home town. I am sorry to have disappointed my fans and supporters. If they are disappointed, the disappointment is triple for me.

“There is still something to play for... the round robin and we will go out with dignity. Hopefully, we will be able to give some cheer to our supporters.”

“I still have another two years of polo but it will be only local league and club tournaments for me. What happens after that is left to be seen. It was our best chance to qualify for the World Cup Finals but it is now a shattered dream,” said Edham, who has played high goal tournaments all over the world.

In his professional polo career, Edham has played in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Argentina, the United States and England. He is a three time winner of the Rolex International in Singapore and counts the RMPA (Royal Malaysian Polo Association) Cup (2003) and the 25 de Mayo medium goal tournaments in Argentina as his best wins. He is also a three winner of the Thai Polo Open.

Edham’s talent was spotted at the age of 16 and was sent to Argentina for apprenticeship. There was no turning for the talented Edham since then for the son of a professional.

With age catching up, Edham is also contemplating to tie the knot and raise a family. However, Edham was not willing to reveal much on this but said: “There is someone in my life.”

In the same breath, Edham revealed that he will be able to spend more time on his hobby – Superbikes.

“I enjoy riding the big bikes. It is just a hobby and I won’t go into serious racing,” added Edham.

Meanwhile, Royal Malaysian Polo Association (RMPA) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said he will have a look at the whole team before deciding on the next move.

In yesterday’s only match, which ended the preliminary round fixtures, Pakistan, with a 1 ½ goal advantage, beat South Africa 12 ½ - 10. It was Pakistan’s second win in as many matches. Pakistan and India finished with four points each, however, Pakistan topped the group on better goal difference of 10 1/2 to India’s 7 ½.

Despite the defeat, South Africa also moved into the last four with, finishing third with two points – the same as Australia – but with a superior goal difference of plus 6 to Australia’s 1 ½.

Saqib Khakwani was on form for Pakistan with six goals while Ahmed Tiwana scored four and Temur Nadeem one. Three goals apiece by Johan Du Preez, Lance Watson and Duncan Watson and Campbell Macrae one completed South Africa’s scoresheet.

Jun 11, 2011


The strong presence of some of the best polo-playing nations in the Asian-Australasian-African Championships which are also the Zone D playoffs for the 2011 FIP Polo World Cup has not diminished Malaysia’s hopes and “humble target” in any way.

Instead, Malaysia are ready to mount a serious challenge for the title despite the presence of teams like South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and Nigeria – to battle for a top three finish which will earn them a ticket to this year’s FIP World Cup Finals in San Luis, Argentina from Oct 11-25.

HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the president of the Royal Malaysian Polo Association (RMPA), was briefed on the team’s progress by chief coach Carlos Pandoi and team manager Ahmad Jamili Rashid on Thursday, soon after his return from overseas.

“We have a very strong field in this Qualifier. Some of the best polo playing countries will be challenging for honours...teams like South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India or Pakistan and even Nigeria have great polo traditions.

“But we have our own mission...that is to win the title or at least finish in the top three to qualify for the World Cup Finals. This is our humble target. As hosts we have home-ground advantage and this is a plus factor that we need to tilt in our favour,” said Tengku Abdullah, who is also the Crown Prince of Pahang.

Tengku Abdullah has taken a personal interest in the Zone D Qualifier as Malaysia hope to create polo history and qualify for their first ever World Cup Finals. This was seen when hours after arriving in Pekan, Tengku Abdullah was at the dry-run of the opening ceremony despite the rain.

“I have been told the team is raring to go. The team has shown vast improvement in all departments. The trainer and physiotherapist, who have been with the team since the Terengganu Open Championships, have added weight.

“The fitness level of the players has gone up. Polo is a very demanding game and you have to be really fit to face the challenges. I am confident the team will do well. Malaysia will be there fighting for top honours.

“If we don’t win the title but finish in the top three and qualify (for the World Cup Finals) it will be history,” said Tengku Abdullah, adding that Malaysia hope to get a good group when the draw for the Horse Groups is done tomorrow.

He later met the players and team officials.

The Malaysian team is captained by Shaik Reismann (Handicap 3), Huzaini Yunos (4), Amran Selamat (2), Muhammad Edham Shaharuddin (4), Saladin Mazlan (3) and Tengku Ahmad Shazril (3).

Malaysia, drawn in Zone A, will open their campaign with a match against New Zealand on Tuesday and India on Friday, both of whom are drawn in Zone B. South Africa, Pakistan and Nigeria are drawn in Zone C.

The preliminary matches and the semi-finals will be played at the Royal Pahang Polo Club in Pekan while the third and fourth placing match and the final will be at the Royal Selangor Polo Club on June 24 and June 25 respectively.

Malaysia will play Nigeria in a 4 chukkas friendly match at the Royal Pahang Polo Club (Field 2) tomorrow at 4pm. Admission to the championships is free.

Jun 4, 2011


NATIONAL Head Coach K.Rajagobal was conferred Panglima Jasa Negara by DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara this morning.

This is a great honour by the country and the King in recognizing the sacrifices made by Raja and his beloved wife.

Congrats Coach and God Bless You & Your Family

Jun 2, 2011


It is learnt the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) will charge nine players tomorrow in Seremban ... If this is true the bookies are on the prowl and raring the ugly head.

Let's wait and See ...

Updates on www.mmail.com.my

A VIDEO footage of Negri Sembilan (NS) President's Cup players supposedly dealing with bookies is one of many leads obtained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in its on-going investigation into the team.

The video, taken from an entertainment outlet in Seremban, allegedly showed a transaction between the players and bookies to fix two matches.

Sources told The Malay Mail the players were paid between RM200 and RM300 as an "advance" and were later given RM2,000 to RM3,000 upon completion of the 'job'.

The two matches were against Pulau Pinang SDM Navy Kepala Batas at Bertam Mini Stadium in Penang on April 21, and Bukit Jalil Sports School on May 5 at the National Sports Council.

Negri Sembilan defeated the Penang team 5-2 but lost 0-2 to Bukit Jalil.

The MACC was said to had streamlined their investigation on nine players, from 11 initially suspected of match-fixing. The players were first questioned last Saturday followed by sessions on Monday and Wednesday.

They were apparently hauled yesterday.

Negri Sembilan FA (NSFA) secretary Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Latif was at the MACC office in Seremban yesterday but it remained unclear what transpired there.

“There is a lot of evidence to charge the players. This is a step in the right direction. All this while, players have had it easy as this was never reported to the authorities,” said a source.

“There are also talks the President’s Cup players are dealing with several individuals from the senior squad. But let’s allow the MACC to do their job and unearth the truth.”

Hardly a week after Fifa head of security Chris Eaton met with FA of Malaysia officials on match fixing activities in the country, NSFA lodged a police report over the alleged match-fixing activities involving its President’s Cup players at the Seremban 2 police station.

There were also talks of eight Kedah President’s Cup players caught with some RM90,000 believed to be gained from fixing matches.

They were apparently sacked by the Kedah FA two weeks ago.

'RM4k-RM7k to fix game'

A PROBE by The Malay Mail last year revealed two President’s Cup players confessing they were approached by bookies to fix not only the under-20 tournament but also the annual King’s Gold Cup competition.

They were offered between RM4,000 and RM7,000 to fix a game.

The Malay Mail also obtained a text message purportedly sent out to a T-Team official by a man alleging players from the team were going to fix their quarterfinal game against KL on July 15.

This came about after The Paper That Cares, in its exclusive series, “Bookies taking online bets”, published on April 14, 2009, showed bookies monitoring President’s Cup matches as several websites, including AsianBookie.com, BetStudy and BetSquare, provided real-time results and betting odds for the age-group tournament.

Originally known as the Burnley Cup, the President’s Cup was first played in 1985 after the FA of Malaysia (FAM) turned semi-professional. The FAM decided every team competing in domestic leagues were required to field a President’s Cup side in the name of development.

It started off as an under-23 tournament but was later changed to under-21.

FAM abolished the Youth Cup and changed the President’s Cup to an under-20 affair three years ago.

Many footballing legends, including Mokhtar Dahari and R. Arumugam, as well as current stars, such as Amirulhadi Zainal and Safee Sali, have played in the President’s Cup