Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Kumar aims to deliver

It was two years ago the keeper S. Kumar lost his second child.


Harshenn,  who was 3, died at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital due to high fever. 


The death of the toddler occured on June 18, just a day before the Olympic Qualifiers got underway at Antwerp, Belgium.


And on Wednesday, Kumar and his team mates will attempt to negotiate another qualifier, this time the World League Round 3 which serves as a qualification for the 2018 World Cup in India.


Malaysia face a tough bit not an impossible task in London as they have been placed in a group that consists of Argentina, England, South Korea and China.


For Kumar, the appearance of his Son in his dream two nights ago has inspired him to give his very best.


" It has been a painful Teo years and we as a family just cannot get over it," said Kumar when contacted in London.


" Ib my dream I saw my Son who had passed away playing with his two siblings ( Varshan who is seven and and asked me how come the youngest looked so much like him.


" He looked cheerful and that brought relief to my heart and mind."


Kumar left the team just before the qualifiers to head home to perform the last rites for his Son, an emotional moment that Hockey fans in Malaysia would never forget.


Qualifying for the next World Cup is a top priority for this Tampin born lad who has only the 2014 World Cup to show despite playing well over a decade for Malaysia.


Kumar has played in 3 Olympic qualifiers and 3 World Cup qualifiers, only making it through for the 2014 World Cup.


" We have a very well balanced side here in London and what stands out is that the players are determined to do well," added Kumar after the team had defeated Wales 4-1 in their second warm up match.


" This is a hard working bunch that have their minds focussed only on one thing - that is to make the World Cup.


" We know it will be tough and every match counts but we intend to negotiate our way safely into playing in India next year.


" Frankly there is no pressure as we have self confidence and that itself is vital in our quest for a good finish in the tournament."


Malaysia will open their campaign against Argentina, followed by England, South Korea and China.


They need to finish at the very least in the fourth position in the pool to stand s chance to make it to the World Cup.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Obsession

What is the obsession with target and Journalists?


Often we hear the media ranting about target and asking coaches, officials and administrators what is the target for the athlete or sport or competition or event.


The ongoing Azlan Shah Cup is a perfect example.


The question of target and whether it is achievable or not and we hear or read about it almost daily.


While it is good to place targets, there must be a reasonable understanding of targets and performances as opposed to tactics and preparation.


The hockey team was set a top four target for the Azlan Shah Cup, by who God knows.


Let's get real, what is the point of even winning the Azlan Shah Cup, something we have not done since 1983 and we go to London and fail to make it to the World Cup next year through the World League Semis?


Will that appease these obsesses personalities who harp on target each time the Hockey team participates in a tournament.


What we need is critical analysis of the team - a better understanding of their program.


While these target frenzy Journalists are doing damage, there are also those who are quite prepared to pull wool of the eyes of fans and readers.


Not everything is good with the team - it was evident in the two matches in the Azlan Shah Cup.


The team looked slow ( perhaps as a result of the heavy workload in physical and gym sessions leading up to the tournament) , lacked the desire and hunger, devoid of ideas and above all their structure was non existent.


These are areas of concern for the coaching staff, not targets.


We can finish last for all I care, lose by big margins but in the end of the day we need to make it to the World Cup on merit, not some backdoor entry or last minute invite just because some country is denied a visa.


Give the team room and space, let the coaching team do their work and in their own way.


They need support and backing, not pressure.


If they fail in London then go after them.


But till then hold your tongue, no matter what happens at the Azlan Shah Cup.

Monday, April 3, 2017

London it is for Men's World Cup Qualifiers


Following the conclusion of Hockey World League Round 2 and updated FIH Hero World rankings

Argentina replace Australia as world’s top men’s team

World Cup Qualifiers will be held in London and Johannesburg

Lausanne, Switzerland: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has confirmed the final line-ups for the men’s Hockey World League Semi-Finals following the conclusion of Round 2 and the subsequent update to the men’s FIH Hero World Rankings.


Between 15-25 June 2017, Lee Valley’s Hockey and Tennis Centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, England will welcome Canada, Malaysia, China and Scotland. They qualified from the Hockey World League Round 2 and join Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists Argentina, reigning European champions Netherlands, Asian champions India, Pakistan, Korea and hosts England, whose participation in this event was confirmed last October.


The other men’s Hockey World League Semi-Final will take place at Wits Hockey Club in Johannesburg, South Africa between 8-23 July. Joining this event from Round 2 are Ireland, Japan, France and Egypt. They will be up against reigning Hockey World Cup, World League and Champions Trophy winners Australia, Olympic silver medallists Belgium, Olympic bronze medallists Germany, New Zealand, Spain and hosts South Africa, winners of the 2015 African Hockey Championship.


The allocation of these latest men’s teams were determined by their position within the FIH Hero World Rankings which were updated following the conclusion of Round 2 this morning. This latest update eliminated points earned by nations during 2013 as well as reducing the number of points all nations earned between 2014 and 2016.


Consequently, this has seen Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists Argentina become the world’s number one men’s hockey team, with Australia moving down into second position. For the updated men’s FIH Hero World Rankings, click here.


The top teams from London and Johannesburg will qualify for two of hockey’s showpiece events – the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 and the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, both in India.


Depending on final standings, teams will also be awarded FIH Hero World Ranking points, which could prove crucial in relation to qualification for future events. With so much on the line, fans will no doubt witness some action-packed matches full of excitement and drama this summer.


FIH is now finalising the event schedules with partners and will announce shortly. In the meantime, fans heading to London can already buy tickets for all sessions, including the all-important classification matches 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Knapp back

Many may not recall him but he was the most the most successful foreign Hockey coach in Malaysia.


Volker Knapp who coached Malaysia from 1995 to 1998 is in Malaysia for a 3 week holiday with his Wife and 3 kids.


Knapp took Malaysia to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and later to the 1998 Utrecht World Cup.


Malaysia had not qualified for the World Cup since 1982 and Knapp was successful through the qualifiers held in Bukit Jalil in 1997.


The German was a soft spoken personality who often was chided by the media then, one even calling him a turkey during the Azlan Shah Cup as there were doubts in his coaching ability.


But Knapp, said to be the understudy of Paul Lissek was a brilliant motivator as against odds he managed to take Malaysia to top events like the Olympics and World Cup.


" I enjoyed my stint here in Malaysia but realised that a job as a coach did not suit me," said Knapp who returned to Germany in 1999 and coached a club for a year before giving up Hockey altogether.


" It's funny that only the coach gets blamed or sacked when a team fails to do well, but that's what sports is all about,


" Life was tough as a coach, the demands Abd expectations really high. A pressure cooker situation all the time.


" But I never had any regrets about my stint in Malaysia despite all the critics and honestly fell in love with this country.


" That is why I often cone here for holidays, and my kids call this paradise."


Knapp was somewhat surprised to find out that Malaysia still depended on foreign expertise in hockey.


" Even back then you had some good coaches and I could tell that some players under me will be good coaches in the future," added Knapp.


" I think Stephen ( van Huizen) is a good choice to handle the team as he has good tactical knowledge and reads the game well."


Knapp hopes to catch up with some of his former charges during his stay here.


The 54 year old however wants his family to explore the sandy beaches of Malaysia first.


Those wishing to get in touch with Knapp can contact this blogger.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

January Start For MHL, March For JHL

The Malaysian Hockey League will commence on the first week of January 2017 and end by February.


And the women's league will commence after the completion of the World League Round 2 in Kuala Lumpur and end in March.


In addition the MHL Knock Out Tournament will be played before the league matches get underway, meaning more likely to be on a carnival basis.


And another major change is the Malaysian Junior Hockey League will  commence after the National Under 16 in March and end before the beginning of the fasting month in May.


These were the decisions taken at the team managers meeting of teams in the three competitions held in Kuala Lumpur this morning.


"We will be calling for entries early November with the closing date towards the end of the month," said MHC Competitions Committee Chairman George Koshy.


" The number of foreign players will be the same for all three competitions, which is a maximum of six players.


" The significant change is that the knock out tournament will be played before the league gets underway.


"As for the junior league we have moved in forward and it will not clash with school examinations"


Koshy said that so far there has not been any request for national players to be released twice a week to train in preparation for the World League in Trinidad & Tobago.


National coach Stephen van Huizen when contacted  in Kuantan said that he would request the players be assembled twice a week during the MHL week.


"There has been no request yet but I believe it should not be a problem," said Koshy.


A total of 5 teams played in the women's league, 6 in premier league and 8 in division one this season.


No other changes have been made in terms of prize money or incentives.


As in this season all teams will need to identify their home ground.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

AHF Champs Trophy format questionable

While it is good that the Asian Hockey Federation is once again paying emphasis to its Champions Trophy tournament, question marks can be raised on the regional body's planning.

For starters the 4th AHF Chanpions Teophy for men is being held from October 20 to Octiber 30 in Kuantan.

Why is the tournament even planned smack in the middle if Diwali celebrations which is equivalent to Eid for the Muslims. For the info of many that may be unaware Diwali, or Deepavali as some know it as, is scheduled for Oct 29.

And the AHF Champions Trophy final is slated for Oct 30!

That is not the only planning blunder as this time around there are semi finals slated for the TOP four finishers after the preliminary group matches.

In the past 3 AHF Champions Trophy, the two teams that emerge first and second after the preliminary round matches contest the final.

In a 6 team round robin tournament, the FIH has always by convention never held a semi finals.

So why is AHF doing this? Not only is it a burden on teams as they have to play a match extra, this also extends the duration of the tournament that s causing nations to incur extra expenditure.

The FIH Champions Trophy has always used a TOP two finish as qualifiers for the final whenever it is a six team affair.

With this format a team needs to win only two of its five preliminary matches, semis and final to emerge champions.

As opposed to being consistent in six matches to be crowned truly Asian Champions.

A short cut way for some?

And just that some using the event to promote their agenda?