Oct 30, 2016

Tigers clinch bronze in ‘fright night’

Malaysia Tigers endured another ‘fright night’ before overcoming Korea 3-1 in penalty shootouts to clinch the bronze medal in the QNET 4th Asian Champions Trophy in Kuatan.
It was Malaysia’s fourth bronze medal in four editions of the Asian Champions Trophy since 2011 in Ordos, China.
India defeated Pakistan 3-2 in the final. The Indians savoured victory five years after edging Pakistan 4-2 in penalty shootout to win their maiden title in Ordos, China in 2011. Pakistan won the trophy in 2012 (Doha, Qatar) and 2013 (Kakamigahara, Japan).
Goalkeeper S. Kumar, at 36 and the highly capped player among the Tigers, Firhan Ashari, Faizal Saari and Nabil Mohammad Noor turned the game around by scoring all three goals. Kumar, on his part, stopped Jung Manjae, Kim Hyeongjin and Jeong Junwoo from scoring. Only Kang Moonkyu got past the Malaysian custodian.
Malaysia Tigers head coach, Stephen van Huizen, said: “We did not want to finish the tournament on a low after playing some good hockey in the pool matches. Even the semi-finals against Pakistan the players gave their best although our performance was below par.”
“A lot of players sacrificed a lot on the field including Faizal Saari who had to rush home as his wife delivered and came back the next day from a long journey. It was an overall team effort and I am happy we managed to win the medal,” added Van Huizen.
There was hardly a scent of a raucous atmosphere in this third-fourth play-off match between Korea and Malaysia unlike the Malaysia-Pakistan semi-finals encounter on Saturday which drew more than 5,000 fans.
The atmosphere was quite sedate and sombre. Except for the 15 Ultras Malaya members prodding Malaysia Tigers with patriotic songs, an estimated 2,500 were still draped and mourning the ‘painful’ defeat by the Pakistanis 24 hours earlier.
Dark clouds loomed over this east coast city of Kuantan before the start of the match. Perhaps this was a hint of how today’s proceedings would go on the pitch.
And true enough, a light drizzle enveloped throughout the match that saw the Malaysians and Koreans battle for almost 13 minutes with near misses. Malaysia Tigers earned the first penalty corner in the seventh minute but drag-flick specialist Razie Rahim’s push was stopped by Yang Jihun near the top of semi-circle. But Malaysia Tigers got the most of the counter-attacks to take the lead in the 14th minute via a Shahril Saabah penalty corner.
But Paul Lissek-coached Korea was back in the thick of action in the second quarter, earning a penalty corner in the 17th minute and Jung Manjae scored the equaliser.
However, the match was one filled with climax for the entire remaining duration but it was simply a case of near misses. Malaysia Tigers picked six penalty corners in total while the Koreans had three. In the end it was another fright night for fans here as the match went into penalty shootout.

This India and Pakistan final had all the ingredients of high drama and great intensity. It was the best match fans here had seen between the world No 6 Indians and Pakistan, ranked 13. Not even the pool match between the two nations which India won 3-2 takes the limelight.
Apart from the coveted trophy which was presented to the Indians by Pahang State Chief Minister, YAB. Dato’ Sri Diraja Haji Adnan Yaakob, every player and official of the winning Indian team also received a Swiss-made Bernard H. Mayer wrist watch presented by title sponsors QNET.
India’s head coach, Roelant Otmans, said: “We were making mistakes but got away with it. Nevertheless, this was a good win for India as the last time India won a major title was the Asian Games in 2014.
“The good thing is we got back on track and played to our game plan. The win today shows we are making progress.”
India kept the prolific PR Sreejesh on the bench and introduced Akash Chikte in goal while Pakistan rolled out Amjad Ali for Imran Butt.
The first half ended scoreless with India rattling Pakistan with their pace. The Pakistanis made some good moves but could not capitalize on it and India won the first penalty corner in the seventh minute but Jasjit Singh Kular's flick went far wide.

However, the real drama unfolded in the second quarter. Rupinder Pal Singh converted India's second penalty corner in the 17th minute to give India 1-0 lead over Pakistan, blasting a powerful shot past Amjad.

The Indians shot 2-0 ahead in the 23rd minute. Sardar Singh relays a long pass to Ramandeep Singh who slides the ball in and Affan Yousuf picks it up and deflects the ball into goal.
Pakistan roared back in style, taking advantage of a lapse in the Indian defence through a penalty corner in the 26th minute.  Aleem Muhammad Bilal converts and Ali Shaan equalised with a field goal in the 38th minute - his second goal of the tournament.
India had a great chance to go 3-2 in the very next minute. Kothajit Khadangbam’s shot from outside the circle crashes through the defence and lands into goal. India celebrated but umpire Peter Wright from South Africa called for a referral. The video clip shows the ball went inside without any deflection from the Indian forwards and thus was ruled out.
But the night belonged to India after Ramandeep passes the ball to Nikkin Thimmaiah and the latter fires it inside to the right of Amjad to give India a 3-2 lead for the third time in the match and victory.

3RD – 4TH playoff – Korea 1 Malaysia 1 (Malaysia won 3-1 on penalty shootout)
Final – India 3 Pakistan 2

Oct 29, 2016

Malaysia Tigers go down in tense shootout

Defending champions Pakistan and India advanced to Sunday’s final of the QNET 4th Asian Champions Trophy at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan.
In one of the most ‘unkind’ circumstances’ fans here have witnessed, both nations qualified for the final in penalty shootouts. The Indians ended Korea’s run 5-4 in the semi-finals shootouts after a 2-2 draw and Pakistan triumphed 3-2 over Malaysia following a 1-1 draw in regulations time.
Pakistan and India will faceoff once again in the QNET Asian Champions Trophy here while Malaysia Tigers take on Korea in the third-fourth placing match. Earlier China defeated Japan 4-3 to finish fifth and sixth respectively. The Indians defeated Pakistan 3-2 in a pool match earlier.
More than 5,000 fans had thronged the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium here – the first time the venue had seen a big turnout in the tournament. After all, a Malaysia-Pakistan semi-finals match had always drawn great interest among Malaysians.
Fans braved the light drizzle which had not stopped since the India-Korea match two hours earlier, hoping for Malaysia Tigers to turn the tables on two-time champions Pakistan once again following a 4-2 victory by the hosts in the pool matches.
The introduction of Faizal Saari, who has scored four goals in the tournament, was also celebrated by fans. He had returned to his hometown on Friday to be with his wife who delivered the couple’s first child, and rushed back to be with teammates three hours before start of the match.
However, the first quarter belonged to the Pakistanis who had the match wrapped well under control with fast-pace counter attacks. They won three penalty corners but failed to get past an organised defence and goalkeeper S. Kumar as the first quarter ended scoreless.
The second quarter, however, was in Malaysia’s grips. Malaysia Tigers surprised the defending champions with an 18th minute penalty corner goal through Shahril Saabah. It was the only time the Malaysians had forced their way into Pakistan’s territory for their first penalty corner of the day.
The Pakistanis returned in the third quarter and won two more penalty corners – their fifth in the match. Aleem Muhammad Bilal could not get ball through in the fourth attempt but Abdul Khan made it count for Pakistan in the fifth with a powerful stroke to the left of Kumar as both teams levelled 1-1 till the end, forcing another penalty shootout of the day.
In the nerve-wrecking shootout, Pakistan won 3-2 with goals from Abdul Khan, Muhammad Irfan Junior and Muhammad Arslan Qadir while Malaysian scorers were Firhan Ashari and Faizal Saari.
India qualified for the final of Asian Champions Trophy for the third time in history. They won the inaugural 2011 edition in Ordos, China, beating Pakistan 4-2 on penalties following a 0-0 score in regulation time, but lost to the Pakistanis in the Doha 2012 final 5-4 on penalties.

Today’s semi-finals match between India and Korea was the 21st encounter between the two nations since the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The last time Korea defeated India 4-3 was at the 2013 Asia Cup.

“We had three good quarters and one bad. The Koreans capitalised on that. They are always a very difficult team to play and we managed to contain them to go into shootouts,” said India’s head coach Roelant Oltmans.
India controlled the first half, bulldozed into the fortified Korean defence a dozen times but could not find the space to beat goalkeeper Hong Doopyo as the Koreans have a well-drilled and organised defensive structure.
However, the bubble burst in the eight minute when the Indians earned their first penalty corner but drag-flick specialist Rupinder Pal Singh shot wide – a rare miss for the towering Punjab-born who has scored 10 goals in his career here..

The 2011 champions, who found the going tough against the Koreans in a pool match before settling for a 1-1 draw, finally found the crack in the Korean wall in the 15th minute through a reverse hit push from Talwinder Singh to take the lead.

Korea earned a penalty corner with 10 seconds remaining but was fruitless and India led 1-0 in the first half quarter.

The start of the second half was equally contested. Both sides went on the offensive with the Koreans picking up two penalty corners but could not get the ball past Sreejesh PR who recovered timely from an ankle injury. And just when fans thought that India would hold on to their game, Korea struck through a Seo Inwoo 21st minute field goal to level score 1-1.

The third quarter was a non-contest with missed chances and as the match rolled into the fourth quarter it was the Koreans who surprised all by going 2-1 ahead from a penalty stroke which Yang Jihun kept his nerves and slotted a low push past Sreejesh. That goal had pumped up the Indians and they chased for the equaliser and were deservingly rewarded with the clock ticking away.

It came from a well-orchestrated move from Sardar Singh inside the semicircle, manoeuvring his way past three defenders and relayed the ball to Ramandeep Singh who pushed the ball into the back of the net much to the jubilation of the Indian camp and inevitably forced the match into a nail-biting penalty shootout which India prevailed 5-4 to advance to Sunday’s final.

China defeated Japan 4-3 to finish fifth place, improving on their 2012 and 2013 positions where they finished fourth. Chinese captain Wang Lei scored a brace (17th, 49th) while Yu Xin (20th) and Zhong Jianwei (23rd) scored a piece each.

The Japanese replied through two goals from Kenta Tanaka (24th and 48th) and Ochiai Hiromasa (8th). Japan’s best finish in four editions of the tournament was fourth spot in Ordos 2011.

5th – 6th playoff – China 4 Japan 3
Semifinals 1 – India 2 Korea 2 (India won 5-4 on penalty shootouts)

--> Semifinals 2 – Pakistan 1 Malaysia 1 (Pakistan won 3-2 on penalty shootouts)

Oct 26, 2016

Rupinder sinks Malaysia with two goals

Malaysia Tigers fell for the first time in the QNET 4th Asian Champions Trophy following a 1-2 defeat against India at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan today.
Faced with the daunting task of playing against the Malaysians who were riding high, the Indians succeeded in their mission in this highly octane game to stay top of the table standings with 13 points – three ahead of the Malaysians who still have a game in hand against Korea tomorrow. 

The final round-robin league matches tomorrow between Malaysia and Korea and Pakistan against China will decide India’s semi-final opponents.

India has been ruthless in search for goals against weaker oppositions - winning 10-2 over Japan, routed China 9-0 and came through a tough battle against Pakistan before prevailing 3-2 against their arch rivals. The only glitch in their performance was a draw against the Koreans.

But today was an ultimate test of character for the 2011 Champions Trophy winners. The Malaysians have won three straight games and are as determined as the Indians in finishing top of the round-robin league. Both teams showed enough pedigree to turn this encounter into one of the best shows after seven days of excitement.

Roelant Oltmans’ India, however, justified their position as World No 6 and title contenders. The blue-shirted men were dominant and got off the match against Malaysia Tigers, ranked 14th in world, on high voltage. Back by frenzy 4,000 over home fans, the host was forced to coil deep into defence just three minutes into the start as the 2011 Champions Trophy winners, won the first penalty corner.

Rupinder Pal Singh, who forms the ultimate cog in the team, sent a smashing shot to the left of Malaysian goalkeeper S. Kumar. It was enough to send jitters among the fans. However, a superb move from Faizal Saari five minutes later on the left of the semi-circle saw his shot rise above the Indian goalmouth much to dismay of the fans here.

The Indians did not take long to push for the lead. A second penalty corner came in the 12th minute and Rupinder scores through a rebound to end the first half in favour of India.

India, however, took control of the early proceedings in the second half. Akashdeep Singh dribbles the ball in and passes it to Yousuf Affan who hits it over the top of the Malaysian goal.

This high pressure-cooker drama on the field unfolds into another nerve-wrecking moment when Malaysia Tigers earned a penalty corner in the 18th minute and Malaysia’s best known drag-flick specialist Muhammad Razie Rahim packs the ball through the net, beating goalkeeper Akash Chite to level the score 1-1 going into the third quarter.

Both teams were embroiled in touch-and-go moments in the third quarter, with Indian goalkeeper Akash making a good save from Haziq Samsul in the 38th minute and on the opposite end, Kumar dives to his left to push away a powerful shot from Indian captain Sardar Singh. With six minutes remaining, the Indians called for a video referral in the hope of getting another penalty corner after claiming that the ball had bounced off Razie’s stick and touch his body. The decision was in the negative.

But India had the final say on a hotly contested night with just two minutes and 22 seconds remaining to the end when the mercurial penalty corner specialist Rupinder slammed the ball into the top of the net to go 2-1 ahead.

Malaysia had another chance with a minute to be played but that was carried away by Chikte to help India win the 19th contest between the two nations and finish the group stages with yet another win.

Malaysian head coach, Stephen van Huizen, said: “India played well with just 10 men in the last quarter to neutralise us and get the goal in the last few minutes. Both had chances to win the game.”

“I call it a stolen victory,” said Indian head coach Roelant Oltmans. “In the second half Malaysia deserved to win. They played very well and our part we too should have scored more in the first half but missed our chances. But we are very happy with this win.”

Korea also came back from a goal down to edge Japan 4-3 and qualified for the semi-finals. Today’s victory by the Koreans had also been good news for Pakistan who gained an ‘automatic entry’ into the last four without having to think much of the outcome of their last round-robin league match against China tomorrow.
The Koreans have amassed seven points from four matches and Pakistan has six. Both teams have one game on hand – Koreans meet Malaysia Tigers and Pakistan entertains China.
Even should China beat Pakistan, it would make no difference as the China would have obtained six points in total and take them into the fifth-sixth classification match playoff against Japan.

Results: Korea 4 Japan 3; Malaysia 1 India 2

Oct 23, 2016

Ampang Jaya BC takes Junior Champions Challenge 2016 Title

Ampang Jaya BC strolled past BU Dragons BC 9-2 in the Junior Champions Challenge (JCC) 2016 final to win the title earlier today at the Sports Arena, Bukit Serdang.

Their boys’ singles player, Tan Jia Wei wasted little time in dispatching BU Dragons’ Loo Bing Kun 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 as Ampang Jaya took the first match with a convincing 3-0 victory.

Ampang Jaya secured another 3 points in the girls’ singles’ category. Wang Zhi Yi gained an easy 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 win over BU Dragons’ rising star, K. Letshanaa as the difference in class was just too significant.  

Tang Xin and Tan Kok Xian would then win the cup for their team after defeating BU Dragons’ Leong Jun Kai and Owen Ting Shih Wee 3-2 (10-11, 11-9, 11-4, 10-11, 11-8) in boys’ doubles’ category.

“I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. We have been targeting for the championship since the very beginning and now that we have achieved our goal, it makes everything worthwhile,” said Ampang Jaya head coach, Ho Khek Mong.

“The match was tighter than the score-line suggested. Our players still had to remain focus despite BU Dragons fielding a fairly young side as they are unpredictable. In the end, I am very proud of them as they handled the pressure with flying colours,” added Khek Mong.

Meanwhile, Petaling BC secured third place as they beat Kepong BC 10-9 in the 3rd/4th playoff. Kepong started the stronger side as they won the first 3 matches. However Petaling who were down 4-9 at one point, turned it around as Petaling’s girls’ doubles pair, Loh Bao Ying and Tew Jia Jia cruised past Kepong’s Bonoi Pakitta and Chu Ai Chia in straight sets to narrow the margin.

With the momentum on their side, Petaling’s Loh Loh Ze Feng and Wanida Buapa would go on to beat Gan Jing Err and Muhd Nuraidil Adha 3-0 in the mixed doubles match to secure the win for their side.

Ampang Jaya took home the winners cheque worth RM25,000 while BU Dragons was awarded RM15,000. Petaling pocketed RM6,000 from their third place finish while Kepong went home with RM4,000.

Final: Ampang Jaya BC bt BU Dragons BC (9-2)
BS: Tan Jia Wei bt Loo Bing Kun 3-0 (11-4, 11-4, 11-4)
GS: Wang Zhi Yi bt K. Letshanaa 3-0 (11-7, 11-5, 11-9)
BD: Tan Kok Xian-Tang Xin bt Leong Jun Kai-Owen Ting Shih Wee 3-2 (10-11, 11-9, 11-4, 10-11, 11-8)

3rd/4th Placing: Petaling BC bt Kepong BC (10-9)
BS: James Hong Jun lost to Kok Jing Hong 1-3 (11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 9-11)
GS: Yap Yee lost to Silprakob Suphapich 2-3 (7-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 3-11)
BD: Ian Wong Jien Sern-Kwek Yee Jian lost to Chua Yue Chern-Tee Kai Wun 1-3 (5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 7-11)
GD: Loh Bao Ying-Tew Jia Jia bt Bonoi Pakitta-Chu Ai Chia 3-0 (11-9, 11-5, 11-8)
--> XD: Loh Ze Feng-Wanida Buapa bt Gan Jing Err-Muhd Nuraidil Adha 3-0 (11-8, 11-8, 11-4)