Jan 22, 2017

Malaysia Tigress goes down against Irish in final

Kuala Lumpur (22 January, 2017): Ireland defeated Malaysia 3-0 in the final of the Women Hockey World League Round 2 at the Tun Razak Stadium today.

Malaysia’s plans of turning the tables around on the Green Army, who won 2-1 in a Pool B match last week, were halted by their own inability to score from a penalty stroke in the first quarter and also take advantage of several penalty corners and open chances that came in the game.

But more importantly the Malaysians, alongside the Irish, booked a spot in the Women Hockey World League Semi-Finals which will be held in Belgium (June 21-July 2) and South Africa (July 8-23). 

Speaking after the defeat, Malaysia’s head coach, K. Dharmaraj, said: “These girls

have shown they have the potential to play against higher ranked teams in the world. They can go far and our second phase of journey to the World League Semi-Finals starts tonight.”

He added: “Today’s final was a good match. We just missed a lot of chances but the girls have had a real tough match against Italy which went into shootout and were tired. I am not saying this just because we lost. Ireland is a very strong team and it was never going to be easy playing against teams ranked higher than us but we did give them a tough fight.”

The world ranked 16 Irish side were presented with another round of anxiety by the 21-ranked Malaysia’s Tigress but it was the Irish who broke the deadlock in the seventh minute when an unmarked Anna O’Flanagan latched on a cross from Chloe Watkins in front of the goalmouth to put the ball past goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya for her 12th goal in the tournament.

However, in a counter attack, the Malaysians were presented a penalty stroke two minutes later but Noraini Rashid shot wide.

The Irish pressed further as Kathryn Mullan and Zue Wilson eventually found their way through in the Malaysian defence, scoring goals from field goal (10th) and penalty corner (34th) respectively.

Though the Irish dominated much of play in the second half and there was no progress from the Malaysians who missed out on several opportunities, Ireland went on to emerge champions. As for Malaysia’s Tigress, the World League Round 2 provided a huge boost to their campaign in the Semi-Finals stage of the World League in June.

Italy defeated Wales 3-1 to finish third in the Kuala Lumpur edition of the Women Hockey World League Round 2. Forward Valentina Braconi scored a double (33rd and 54th minutes) from penalty corners after Celina Traverso gave the Italians a 25th minute lead via field goal and Sian French reduced the deficit for Wales in the 35th minute.

The Italians, who are ranked 15 in the world, suffered a shock 2-1 defeat in a sudden-death shootout against the Malaysians following a 2-2 draw in regulation time, still have an outside chance of qualifying for the World League Semi-finals which will be held in Belgium (June 21-July 2) and South Africa (July 8-23). 

This, however, depends on final rankings after the conclusion of two more editions of the World League Round 2 in Valencia, Spain (Feb 4-12) and Vancouver, Canada (March 25-April 2, 2017).

Thailand, placed 31 in the FIH Hero World Rankings, ended its foray here with a fifth-place finish following a 3-1 penalty shootout victory against World No 43 Singapore after a scoreless game in regulation time.

The Thais defeated the Singaporeans 4-0 in a Pool A match last week but were hard pressed to keep a transformed Singaporean side at bay today. Supansa Samanso, Praphatson Khuiklang and Anongnat Piresram scored for Thailand whilst only Ong Yang Ting was successful for Singapore.

Kazakhstan, ranked World No 33, took maximum points against Hong Kong with a 3-2 win to finish seventh here. The Kazaks earned a penalty corner in the second minute and Symbat Sabazova converted to give Kazakhstan a 1-0 lead before Olga Khonina doubled the lead in the 32nd minute from open play.

Hong Kong, however, reduced the deficit with a field goal through Chang Ching Nam in the 40th minute but Gulim Idirissova shot Kazakhstan 3-1 ahead nine minutes later. Tiffany Chan scored for Hong Kong from a penalty corner in the last few seconds of play.

Jan 21, 2017

Malaysia qualify for World League Semi-finals

Kuala Lumpur (21 January, 2017): Malaysia scored a sensational 2-1 win over World No 15 Italy in sudden-death penalty shootout and in the process joined Ireland in qualifying for the World League Semi-Finals.

K. Dharmaraj’s Tigress had earlier made a grand comeback from a goal down in this Women Hockey World League Round 2 semi-finals encounter to hold the Italians to a 2-2 draw in regulation time while Ireland downed Wales 2-0 in an earlier semi-final tie at the Tun Razak Stadium.

But more importantly the Malaysians, alongside the Irish, booked a spot in the Women Hockey World League Semi-Finals which will be held in Belgium (June 21-July 2) and South Africa (July 8-23).

The Malaysian women have never qualified for the World Cup and the World League Round 2 is Dharmaraj’s first major assignment as head coach since taking over the position in January 2016.

Ireland’s Green Army and Malaysia’s Tigress will meet in the final of the Women Hockey World League Round 2 tomorrow (22 January) while the Italians and Wales will battle for third placing.

The World League Semi-finals is a qualification platform for the 2018 World Cup which will be held at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

It was a night to remember for more than 2,000 fans who watched the Tigress, ranked World No 21, produced their best against a world class opposition.

Dharmaraj’s Tigress have been beefed up with the return of midfielder Raja Norsharina Raja Shabuddin, who did not play in the last two matches due to an ankle injury suffered against Ireland on Monday, to  face the Italians.

Midfielder Maria Garraffo fired the Italians ahead in the 10th minute from a field goal but this was quickly cancelled by Fazilla Sylvester Silin three minutes later from a penalty corner.

The Italians, undaunted by the equaliser, continued with a barrage of counter attacks at the start of the second quarter and rewarded with a penalty corner  in the 18th minute. Agata Wybieralska made no mistake to give the Italians a 2-1 advantage but once again, Malaysia’s Tigress produced a great fight back with a Hanis Nadiah Onn field goal four minutes before the end of the first half.

The second half saw the Malaysians and Italians having a fair share of ball possession and goal opportunities with no results, pushing the game into penalty shootout.

Goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya was the toast of the Tigress as she kept the Italians at bay in the first penalty shootout which left both teams tied 1-1. However, Valentina Braconi, Italy’s most trusted player, missed in the first sudden-death shootout but Fatin Shafika Md Shukri kept her nerves in check, stepped up and gave all Malaysians a night to celebrate

Two goals in two minutes ensured Ireland a 2-0 victory over Wales to advance into Sunday’s final of the Women Hockey World League Round 2.

The Irish had a tough task at hand against the Welsh. As the tournament’s second highest ranked team behind the Italians, the Green Army found themselves pegged down by the Welsh in the first quarter.

The chances, however, build with great intensity in the second half and Yvonne O’Brian broke the deadlock in the 27th minute for Ireland from a penalty corner goal and less than a minute later Anna O’Flanagan doubled the lead with a field goal. It was Anna’s 12th goal in the tournament so far.

The game suddenly took a different outlook as the Green Army went into the breather with a two-goal lead.

The second half saw both sides creating chances but Ireland held the advantage with possession. Irish goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran made a strong save in the final few minutes of the third quarter to keep the marauding Wales forwards at bay an kept a clean record en route to the final.
The Kuala Lumpur edition of the Women Hockey World League Round 2 is the first of three series in qualifying for the World League Semi-finals which will be held in Belgium (June 21-July 2) and South Africa (July 8-23).

This will be followed by the second and third series of the World League in Valencia, Spain (Feb 4-12) and Vancouver, Canada (March 25-April 2, 2017).

Jan 17, 2017

Menacing Tigress strike 13 goals!

Kuala Lumpur (17 January, 2017): Malaysia Tigress thrashed Kazakhstan 13-1 and joined Italy and Ireland in high-scoring matches in final pool matches in the Women Hockey World League Round 2 at the Tun Razak Stadium today.

It was the Malaysians biggest victory here and Kazakhstan’s highest ever margin of defeat in the tournament following the 12-0 drubbing against Ireland in the Pool B opening match last Saturday.

K. Dharmaraj’s Malaysia Tigress will now play Thailand in Thursday’s quarterfinals while Ireland takes on Singapore, Italy goes head to head against Hong Kong and Wales meets Kazakhstan.

The Malaysians took the lead in the fifth minute as Nurul Nabihah Mansur showed great skills before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Guzal Bakhavaddin but Kazakhstan surprised fans with the equaliser three minutes later.

An aerial pass from a Kazakhstan player was poorly stopped by Malaysian captain Siti Noor Amarina Ruhaini and Vera Domashneva picked it well, raced into the circle and blasted the ball through the on-rushing goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya. It was Kazakhstan’s first field goal in the tournament.

But that was as far as Kazakhstan could go when the Tigress picked up the pieces and roared back with 12 more goals. Fatin Shafika Mohd Sukri scored a hat-trick, Nuraslinda Said and Fazilla Sylvester netted a double whilst Noor Hasliza Md Ali, Nuraini Rashid, Norazlin Sumantri, Hanis Nadiah Onn and Norfaiezah Md Saiuti scored a piece.

Italy lived up to its FIH Hero World ranking of 15 by registering a 9-0 victory over a hapless Singapore in a Pool A match and Ireland defeated Hong Kong 10-0 in Pool B encounter earlier in the day.

The Italians lead Pool A on nine points followed by Wales (6), Thailand (3) while Singapore sit at the bottom with no points from three matches. In Pool B, Ireland leads the standings (9 points), Malaysia second on six, Kazakhstan third (2) and Hong Kong last (1 point).

Agata Wybieralska converted a penalty corner in the 17th minute and team captain Chiara Tiddi increased the advantage in similar fashion three minutes later whilst Eugenia Mastronardi struck the third goal from open play in the 26th minute as the Italians took a comfortable 3-0 lead going into the interval.

The quick goals also punctuated any hopes of the Singaporeans had in making a comeback in the tournament following defeats against Thailand (0-4) and Wales (0-7).

Far from being contented with the score line, the Italians returned in the second half causing further damage. Valentina Braconi notched a hat-trick (40th, 44th and 59th minutes) and Agata picked her second goal of the day via a penalty corner while Dalila Mirabella and Maria Garraffo added to the Singaporeans misery with a goal each..

“It’s been a great finish for us in the pool matches.  We arrived here with a positive target of finishing top of the standings and now that we have achieved that we look forward to the quarterfinals against Singapore,” said Italy’s captain Chiara.

Wales and Hong Kong struggled for goals in the first half though it was the Welsh who dominated the game with six unconverted penalty corners.

The deadlock was broken when Natalie Blyth shot past Thailand goalkeeper Siraya Yimkrajang in the 28th minute from a penalty corner to give Wales the lead.

There was more fluidity in the Welsh game in the second half as they practically camped inside Thailand’s goal-scoring territory for long moments but could not find the space to put the ball into the net as the Thais were frantically busy holding their own fort with great tenacity, more often throwing themselves in front of the ball.

Beth Bingham and Eloise Laity, however, dealt with it with a penalty corner and field goal in the 51st and 52nd minutes respectively to give Wales their second consecutive win here and a showdown against Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals.

“We are, without any doubt, happy with this second win after going through some tough moments picking the first goal against Thailand. Our aim is to finish high up in the pool and this has got the players all drilled up for the quarterfinals,” said Wales head coach Kevin Johnson.

Ireland’s Green Army also settled fittingly well against Hong Kong - to end their preliminary round with a bright finish by claiming a 10-0 victory after a sloppy start that saw them take a 1-0 lead through Roison Uptown’s penalty corner in the 18th minute.

Hong Kong could not find the answers to Ireland’s open and attacking game before falling apart in the second half as the Irish forwards followed up with double strikes from Kathryn Mullan and Anna O’Flanagan whilst Chloe Watkins, Rebecca Barry, Gillian Pinder, Nicola Evans and Nicola Daly duly added their names on the score list.

Jan 15, 2017

Italians and Welsh riding high

Kuala Lumpur (15 January, 2017): European contenders Italy and Wales shrugged off a meekly challenge from Thailand and Singapore respectively in Pool A of the Women Hockey World League Round 2 at the Tun Razak Stadium in Kuala Lumpur today.

World No 15 Italy, who defeated Wales 3-0 on Saturday, lived up to its favourites tag here by brushing aside Thailand 5-0 today.

Jasbeer Kaur Singh, playing in her 51st international match, fired the Italians ahead in the ninth minute followed by Marcela Casale (27th), Valentina Braconi (34th) and Maria Garraffo (40th) scoring from open play whilst Agata Wybieralska extended the lead in the 51st minute from a penalty corner to ensure a memorable night.

Wales returned on Sunday to dazzle spectators and even their opponents Singapore by posting a 7-0 victory. The result ensured the Welsh; ranked World No 32, increase their chances of a top two finish in the pool behind Italy.

The match began in slow fashion and it was only a matter of time the Welsh upped the ante to score the first goal via a penalty corner in the eighth minute through Natasha Jones-Marke and Lisa Daly increased the advantage six minutes later from open play as Wales took a 2-0 lead going into the interval.

Singapore returned in the second half with an exchange of goalkeepers – Felissa Lai substituted Yu Tong Liu but nothing much really changed though the Singaporeans had their chances upfront but could not make any breakthrough but Wales was far more dominant in the hunt for goals.

Lisa notched her second for Wales in the 31st minute; Phoebe Richards (45th) increased it to 4-0 whilst Abi Welsford (51st), Phoebe (58th) and Sarah Jones completed the rout against the Singaporeans who picked a silver medal in the 4th Women AHF in Bangkok last year.

An elated Wales coach, Kevin Johnson, said: “There was a lot of positive energy from the players in the match against Singapore after going down to the Italians earlier. It was a great comeback for us and we are headed back in the competition.

“Our target has been to finish in top two in our pool and we now look towards playing Thailand in the last pool match on Tuesday. We just have to get better than this against the Thais.”

Singapore’s Australian coach, David Viner, was quite disappointed with the result but contended that they were playing against a side far more superior both tactically and physically.

“I thought we did well to contain Wales with just two goals in the first half and also had some opportunities to score. Certainly we lacked the depth but the players did their best. We have a very
young squad and it was a good exposure against a European side,” he said.

The action returns on Monday (Jan 16) with Pool A matches. Malaysia plays Ireland in a match the host aim to turn the tables on the Irish Green Army while Hong Kong entertains Kazakhstan.
Malaysia’s Tigress defeated Hong Kong 9-0 and Ireland humbled Kazakhstan 12-0 in Saturday’s Day One action.

Jan 13, 2017

Charity Shield: KLHC prevail in shootout over THT

Kuala Lumpur (13 January, 2017): Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) clinched the TNBMHL 2017 Charity Shield Cup following a 6-5 win in penalty shootout over Terengganu Hockey Team after both teams were tied 2-2 in regulation time at the Batu Buruk Hockey Stadium in Kuala Terengganu today.

The victory also erased KLHC’s 7-2 defeat against double champions THT in the quarterfinals of the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup Knockout Tournament at the Tun Razak Stadium last week.

Muhammad Noor Faez Ibrahim opened scoring for KLHC in the 31st minute via a penalty corner but Faizal Saari slowed down the city boys’ celebrations with a field goal three minutes later before Pakistan’s Umar Bhutta increased the advantage for KLHC in the 51st minute.

However, a THT and KLHC match has always seen dramatic endings and this was proven when Korean Jang Jonghyun scored the equaliser in the 56th minute, forcing the match into a shootout. KLHC eventually prevailed 6-5 to lift the Charity Shield Cup for the fourth consecutive time since 2014.

Prior to the start of the Charity Shield match, the Malaysian Hockey Confederation contributed a token sum of donation to Rumah Kasih Harmoni in Kuala Terengganu.

In Kuala Lumpur, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) turned on the power in the second half to register a 6-1 victory over TNB Thunderbolts whilst Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) pulverised Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) 5-0 at the KLHA Stadium and Maybank fought hard to overcome a gritty Universiti Teknologi MARA-KPT (UiTM) 3-2 at the adjacent Ministry of Education Hockey Stadium.

Muhammad Ramadan Rosli started TNB’s goal rush in the eighth minute via a field goal but it was only in the second half that TNB upped the ante against the 2016 Division One champions by scoring five more goals.

Norsyafiq Sumantri added the second in the 36th minute, Azril Misron netted a brace (37th and 38th minutes) and Muhammad Aminudin Mohd Zain fired from a penalty corner in the next minute as TNB grabbed a 5-1 lead before 17-year-old Muhammad Akhimullah Anuar Esook pulled one back for Thunderbolts a minute into the third quarter.

Muhammad Shahril Saabah capped a fine evening for TNB with the sixth goal seconds before the hooter via a penalty corner.

Arul Selvaraj’s UniKL also got off to a winning start with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School, the 2016 Division One League runner-up, at the same venue.
Clinical finishing and good team work were the key ingredients as UniKL warmed up to a difficult task in their second match on Sunday where they will take on TNB.

“It is always good to start a season with a win but it’s a compact league with matches every third day,” said Arul. “Therefore the depth on the bench is vital as we need to give
equal playing time as well as not affect the style of play. We need to work on some grey areas like defending counter attacks and creating penalty corners.”

UniKL’s midfield trio of Rafizul Ezry, Mohamed Toseeq and Marhan Jalil played extremely well. Izwan Firdaus opened scoring for UniKL in the 15th minute and four minutes later Australian Lachlan Gerald Stock doubled the advantage for UniKL before Izwan made it 3-0 in the 21st minute.

Lachlan went on to notch his hat-trick with goals in the 47th and 51st minutes to round up an impressive start in the MHL.

UiTM surprised Maybank with a ninth minute field goal through Mohammad Norikhwan Nor Rahman but Maybank went ahead 3-1 by the 56th minute with a brace from Hafifihafiz Hanafi (25th and 38th minutes) and Firdaus Fauzi (56th) before Joshua Pieter Ephraums reduced the deficit two minute late from a field goal.

Results – Premier League: Terengganu Hockey Team 2-2 (KLHC win 6-5 in penalty shootout) Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club; TNB 6 TNB Thunderbolts 1; Universiti Kuala Lumpur 5 Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School 0; Universiti Teknologi MARA-KPT 2 Maybank 3.

Premier Fixtures – Sunday (15 January, 2017): Terengganu Hockey Team v Universiti Teknologi MARA-KPT (Stadium Hockey Batu Buruk, Kuala Terengganu, 5.00pm); Universiti Kuala Lumpur  v Tenaga Nasional Berhad (4.00pm); Maybank v Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (Stadium Hoki Bukit Serindit, Malacca, 6.00pm); Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club v TNB Thunderbolts (KLHA Stadium,  6.00pm).

Jan 8, 2017

SSPL 2016/17: Enam Pasukan Sahkan Tempat Ke Saingan Kalah Mati

KUALA LUMPUR (8 Januari, 2017): Enam pasukan mengesahkan kedudukan mereka ke peringkat kalah mati bagi merebut kejuaraan SS Purple League (SSPL) musim ini selepas berjaya berada pada kelompok enam pasukan teratas saingan round robin yang tamat di Stadium Badminton Kuala Lumpur, Cheras sebentar tadi.

Pasukan tersebut adalah Kelab Badminton (KB) Muar selaku juara, KB Bandar Utama Dragons, KB Puchong United, KB Petaling Jaya, KB Ampang Jaya dan KB Petaling.

KB Bandar Utama Dragons yang beraksi pada perlawanan terakhir di sebelah malam menang ke atas KB Bangsar Hawks 14-2. Keputusan itu membolehkan mereka melonjak daripada tangga keenam liga ke tangga kedua dengan mengumpul 97 mata.

Kelab dari Johor itu menang dalam acara perseorangan lelaki pertama yang diwakili oleh Goh Soon Huat, seri dalam perseorangan wanita melalui Goh Jin Wei, serta menang dalam beregu lelaki menerusi gandingan Chooi Kah Meng/ Mak Hee Chun.

Dalam kategori beregu campuran yang diwakili Chow Mei Kuan/ Tan Kian Meng mereka juga mencatatkan kemenangan dan pemain perseorangan lelaki terakhir, Wei Nan juga menang dalam satu lagi acara perseorangan lelaki sekaligus melengkapkan malam cemerlang kelab itu.

Menurut pengurus KB Bandar Utama Dragons, Jason Wong, melonjak ke tangga kedua sekaligus layak automatik ke separuh akhir SSPL adalah satu pencapaian yang cukup membanggakan.

Dia berkata, “Pemain kita memang bermain bagus tadi, mereka berjaya mengatasi tekanan kerana kita sangat memerlukan 12 mata. Mereka berjaya lakukannya sekaligus pasukan melonjak ke kedudukan kedua dan layak secara automatik ke separuh akhir selepas ini.

“Memandangkan kita sudah di separuh akhir, jadi saya harap pemain akan mengekalkan semangat berpasukan yang menjadi kunci kemenangan kita selama ini dan terus mempamerkan aksi terbaik seterusnya layak ke final,” ujar Jason selepas perlawanan.

Pada sebelah petang pula KB Petaling Jaya melengkapkan perlawanan pusingan round robin dengan menewaskan KB Serdang 13-5. Bagi jurulatih KB Petaling Jaya, Yeoh Kay Lun, dia agak kecewa pasukannya gagal menempatkan diri dalam kedudukan dua teratas yang akan layak secara automatik peringkat akhir nanti.

Kay Lun berkata, “Kita sebenarnya mengharapkan untuk mengutip 15 mata dalam perlawanan terakhir tadi namun perseorangan wanita gagal bermain baik hari ini. Apapun mereka telah cuba terbaik dan saya harap kita lebih cemerlang di Genting Highlands nanti.

“Kita akan terus menjalani latihan selepas ini sebagai persediaan menghadapi peringkat terakhir Purple League di Genting Highlands dan saya harapkan pasangan beregu dari Korea Selatan yang akan bersama pasukan nanti akan memperkuatkan lagi pasukan KB Petaling Jaya sekaligus mampu menjadi juara,”ujar Kay Lun selepas tamat perlawanan petang tadi.

 Sebelum itu, dalam satu lagi perlawanan tengah hari tadi, KB Kepong menamatkan saingan round robin dengan mencatatkan kemenangan 11-7 ke atas KB Klang City. Namun mereka sekadar berada di kedudukan ketujuh sekaligus terkeluar dari saingan untuk memburu kejuaraan.

Selepas tamat saingan liga, peringkat kalah mati enam pasukan yang menduduki kedudukan teratas liga akan berlangsung dari 9 hingga 12 Februari di Arena of Stars, Genting Highlands bagi mencari juara SSPL musim ini. Pasukan bawahan liga pula akan berentap menentukan kedudukan ketujuh hingga sepuluh. Undian pasukan yang beraksi di peringkat kalah mati akan diadakan hari Rabu ini di Pearl International Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

Jan 6, 2017

KLHC triumph over TNB in thriller

Kuala Lumpur (6 January, 2017): Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) came back from two goals down to sent Tenaga Nasional Berhad crashing out of the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup Knockout Tournament in a 3-2 thrilling victory in the first round encounter at the Tun Razak Stadium today.

Mohammad Ramadan Rosli fired TNB, the 2016 runners-up; ahead in the eighth minute from a field goal and Azril Misron increased the advantage in the 35th minute before KLHC, who lost in the quarterfinals stage of the tournament last season, reduced the deficit via Muhammad Haziq Samsul in the 42nd minute.

Germany’s Aaron Craig Kleinschmidt stepped up with the equalizer (50th minute) and Anton Paul Fritz nailed the winner off a penalty corner six minutes to the final hooter to take KLHC into tomorrow’s quarterfinals against Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI).

The draw for the quarterfinals sees Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (MBPJ) goes up against Bukit Jalil Sports School; Politeknik Malaysia-KPT plays Terengganu Hockey Team and Universiti Kuala Lumpur meets Maybank.

Terengganu Hockey Team advanced into the quarterfinals following a 7-3 win over 2016 Division One champions TNB Thunderbolts.

Korean Jang Jong Hyun nailed a hat-trick via penalty corners (18th, 25th and 35th minutes), Faizal Saari scored a brace (48th and 59th) whilst Ismail Abu (2nd) and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil (6th) scored one apiece as Sarjit Singh’s side coasted into Saturday’s quarterfinals

Thunderbolts replied through Muhammad Hazim with an 11th minute field goal before Muhammad Idris Samad (21st) and defender Muhammad Arif Syafie (47th) produced an entertaining performance to rattle THT defenders with penalty corner goals.

Arul Selvaraj’s UniKL, who was shown the exit in the quarterfinals stage by TNB last season, edged Universiti Teknologi MARA-KPT 2-0, Maybank crushed Universiti Putra Malaysia-KPT 8-1 and BJSS showed the exit door to Royal Malaysian Police with a 4-2 win at the KPM ground in Jalan Pantai. Bandar Penawar-based SSTMI defeated Johor 3-0 and MBPJ thumped RMAF Rajawali 5-1 in the first round.

  UiTM, who gained promotion to Premier League, were dealt a severe blow before the start of the match when two of their foreign signings - Vakkaliga Swami Vinaya and Alemada Cheenaya Bopaiah from India failed to obtain their No Objection Certificate in time for the match.

The match got off with UniKL in commanding position but simply could not find the passage through for the goals until only after the interval.  Pakistani Muhammad Aleem scored the first goal in the 32nd minute from a penalty corner and Ignacio Santiago Salas increased the advantage in 50th minute from a field goal.

“We were a bit scrappy today and I admit that. But in a knockout competition it’s the final results that counts,” said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj. “I decided to rotate the players as we have 24 hours to play the quarterfinals. Overall I am pleased with the results but we need to cut off some fancy play and stop making unforced errors,” he added.

Penang-based Nurinsafi Hockey clawed back from a 3-1 deficit to hold Politeknik Malaysia-KPT to a 4-4 draw in regulation time. However, the side led by six Pakistan nationals, fumbled in the penalty shootout to give Politeknik Malaysia 3-1 victory and a slot in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

Korean Hwang Mah Gi opened accounts for Politeknik with an 18th minute penalty stroke while Oh Seyong (26th) and Mohamad Zabad Rosli (37th) increased the lead to 3-0 before Mohammad Bilal Qadir pulled one back in the 40th minute from a field goal.

However, a resilient Nurinsafi went out in full force in the last four minutes of play and were rewarded with two field goals from Nur Rahul Hrsikesa (56th and 58th minutes) whilst Bilal Qadir scored his second and Nurinsafi’s fourth goal in the match to force a 4-4 draw and go into penalty shootout.

Jan 5, 2017

Muar BC Tops the Lot!

KUALA LUMPUR (5 January, 2017): Muar BC strengthened their position at the summit of the SS Purple League (SSPL) with a big 14-4 win over Bangsar Hawks BC side during their SSPL 2016/17 match earlier today at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium, Cheras.

With that result, Muar has mathematically qualified to the Stage 2 of the SSPL 2016/17 as one of the top six teams.

The Johor side race straight out of the blocks to record a 6-0 lead after taking both the men’s singles and women’s singles match in straight sets. Tan Chun Seang easily defeated his Bangsar Hawks’ men’s singles counterpart, Chian Chin Yong while the Hawks’ Lee Ying Ying tasted defeat for the first time this season at the hands of Muar’s Indonesian import, Rusydina Antardayu in the women’s singles match.

Irfan Fadhilah and Mohamad Syazmil Idham managed to provide a temporary spark for their Bangsar Hawks team as they beat the more experienced pair of Hoon Thien How and Teo Kok Siang 3-2.

But it was all over for the Hawks as they could not keep up the momentum going into the mixed doubles match. Joyce Choong and Pei Tian Yi fell 1-3 to Muar’s Olympic medallists, Chan Peng Soon and Korean, Lee Hyo Jung.

Lee Hyun Il wrapped up the game with a comfortable straight sets win over Bangsar Hawks’ Thomi Azizan Mahbub in the second men’s singles match.

“We initially aimed to collect 13 to 14 points from today’s match, so we are glad that we achieved that and confirmed our qualification to Stage 2,” said said Muar’s head coach and Indonesian international, Nova Armada.  

“However, we will not take it easy in our last match against a strong Puchong United side as we aim to finish Stage 1 in the top 2 spots. We will name our strongest line-up,” added Nova.

SSPL 2016/17 Result (5 January 2017)
(4pm) Bangsar Hawks BC lost to Muar BC 4-14         
MS2: Chian Chin Yong lost to Tan Chun Seang 0-3 (3-11, 8-11, 2-11)
WS: Lee Ying Ying lost to Rusydina Antardayu 0-3 (4-11, 8-11, 7-11)
MD: Irfan Fadhilah-Mohamad Syazmil Idham bt Hoon Thien How-Teo Kok Siang 3-2 (11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 5-11, 6-3)
XD: Joyce Choong-Pei Tian Yi lost to Chan Peng Soon-Lee Hyo Jung 1-3 (11-10, 6-11, 9-11, 4-11)
MS1: Thomi Azizan Mahbub            lost to Lee Hyun Il 0-3 (3-11, 3-11, 4-11)

SSPL 2016/17 Fixtures (5 January 2017)

(8pm) Puchong United BC vs Petaling BC

Where only true champions survive

Kuala Lumpur (5 January, 2017):  The reverberation of victory and agony of defeat will be felt early when the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup knockout tournament gets underway in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.

Eight Premier and Division One teams will battle for supremacy in this second edition of the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup which is known for its ‘unkindness’ towards teams that dangle with sheer luck and fame alone.

In short, the knockout tournament is virtually blind to the reputation of Premier League teams with grandeur ambitions who may likely fall prey to their less illustrious opponents.

And at stake is the RM70,000 winner’s purse which went into the coffers of Sapura Hockey Club last season following a 2-1 win over Tenaga Nasional Berhad in the final. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, Sapura’s absence this time around has opened the door for a new champion to be crowned.

Former champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club were stopped in their track by a resilient Terengganu Hockey Team – going down 2-3 in the quarterfinals last year whilst TNB burrowed its way out of the Premier League basement standing and surprised all with a 3-2 victory over THT in the semi-finals en route to a final showdown with Sapura.

Such is the magic of the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup that merely rewards true champions after going through the trepidations in four days of action.

TNB returns this season with the same aura and expectations of a better and brighter performance as in line with the motto of the local energy company as they face KLHC in the first round at the Tun Razak Stadium.

“There are always challengers which we consider as positive and we will take it from there,” said TNB head coach Muhammad Amin Rahim. “We hope to create lots of opportunities and put up a good performance against KLHC on Friday,” he said, adding that with former Sapura goalkeeper Adrian Andy Albert, defender Mohd Faiz Helmi and midfielder Norsyafiq Sumantri in the side, TNB is looking at giving the best strikes on the pitch.’

KLHC’s foreign legions are Pakistan’s forward Umar Bhutta, Germany’s Anton Ebeling, Australians Aaron Craig and midfielder Casey Dawson.

“Last year’s defeat came as strong signal to us that we should stay focus in every match. That mistake will not happen again,” observed KLHC team manager Ahmad Anuar Sham.

The 2016 Division One champions TNB Thunderbolts - promoted to the Premier League this season - faces the might of THT in their first encounter against the bigger boys.

Sarjit Singh’s THT boast of South Korean Jang Jung-hyun, Pakistanis Muhammad Irfan Aslam and Ammad Shakeer Butt, Argentinean Pablo Javier Trevison and Spanish midfielder Nicolas Enrique Della Torre for this opening tie.

Jan 3, 2017

Early Irish test for Dharmaraj Tigress

Kuala Lumpur (3 January, 2017): Malaysia Tigress coach K. Dharmaraj believes the battle for supremacy in the Women World League Round 2 will only begin in the quarterfinals stage of the event held from Jan 14-22 at the Tun Razak Hockey Stadium.

All the eight teams competing here, said Dharmaraj, will automatically qualify for the Jan 19 quarterfinals upon completion of their respective pool matches and the journey to the Hockey World League Semi-finals will depend on whom the Malaysians face in the last eight of the competition.

“It is very important that we finish top of our group in the preliminary round,” said Dharmaraj. “This will put us in a better position to play the lower rank teams in the quarterfinal and move forward from there,” he said, adding this is the most crucial point in the tournament for all teams.

Malaysia Tigress, ranked at world No 21, will be joined by world No 16 Ireland, Kazakhstan (33) and Hong Kong (37) in Group B whilst Italy, ranked world No 15, Thailand (31), Wales (32) and Singapore (43) are in Pool A.’

“We will be looking to finish in the top two to ensure a ticket to the Semi-finals of the World Cup qualifying round. Given these options, we must aim to go on top of Group B standings, which also means winning three points against Ireland in our pool match on Jan16,” said Dharmaraj.

Dharmaraj’s Tigress, however, will have a first look at the Irish machinery in a friendly match on Jan 9.  The Irish women’s team will finally get back into competitive action after an 18-month wait with the first stage in the World Cup qualifying bid and are scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 4 (Wednesday) in an early preparation for the tournament.

Meanwhile, with a world ranking of 16, Graham Shaw’s side go into the competition as the second highest ranked team, with Italy, who are ranked 15th, the other big gun.

Despite being one of the fancied sides, Shaw says the timing of the competition has made preparation tricky.

“When the tournament is at this time, it’s incredibly difficult for European teams to prepare for it with the difference in time, weather and humidity,” he told The Irish Times.

No other opponents were available for practice matches due to the Christmas break, and so regional camps were organised on Dec 22nd and 23rd as well as on the 29th and 30th.

“We have got seven days in Malaysia to sharpen ourselves up pre-tournament. It’s certainly not ideal. But the girls are quite a self-driven squad. With nutrition and the requirements of being an elite athlete, the girls are well aware of what it takes when it comes to over-indulgence!”

It will be their first world-ranking event for Ireland since July 2015 when they claimed the EuroHockey Champions Trophy, a month after missing out on a ticket to Rio by the thickness of a post.

However, the Irish will be without Emma Gray, Kate Dillon and Emma Smyth who have since retired while Aine Connery has not been training with the squad constantly.

Shaw tried out a large number of new faces in the challenge matches in 2016, notably the Hawkes Bay Cup in New Zealand in April, where they beat Olympic-bound India and Korea. Lena Tice and Zoe Wilson are the new finds in defence who will form the nucleus of the next generation.

“We feel now we are stronger across the board and across different lines. That’s been a real plus. The introduction of those younger players of that quality has been brilliant and we are excited about what they can do in the future.”

Another addition who will make debut in January is Roisin Upton following two NCAA titles with the UConn Huskies. Her inclusion gives Ireland more options in midfield and defence.

She is also a player who can potentially replace team captain Megan Frazer who is currently recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury.

“Losing Megan is incredibly disappointing but players like Zoe, Roisin and Lena are able to do that role for us. Maybe down the road it allows us to use Megan further up the field.”

In Malaysia, there will be further tournament debutants in the form of Rebecca Barry and Clodagh Cassin who will also play against the Italians in another warm-up match on Jan 11.