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News for 29 December 2016

All the news for Thursday 29 December 2016

Wapda, PIA, NBP win National Hockey super league openers

LAHORE - Pakistan Wapda, PIA and National Bank fashioned out victories in the 63rd Zaitoon National Hockey Championship super league phase, which began here at the National Hockey Stadium on Wednesday.

In the first match of the day, Wapda trounce SNGPL by 5-0. Wapda gained a comprehensive victory over the SNGPL, who are making their maiden appearance in the nationals. Wapda made frequent incursions into the opponents and found the target in all the quarters. First three goals arrived through penalty corners. SNGPL custodian had anticipated Aleem Bilal's flick off the first penalty corner with his outstretched arm but the sheer force carried the ball into the net.

In the 28th minute, legendary Sohail Abbas flicked it left of goalkeeper off the 4th penalty corner. Five minutes into the second half, it was again the turn of Aleem Bilal, who made it 3-0 with his second goal. This time he beat the goal keeper with a flat angular push on the 5th penalty corner. The final quarter saw two field goals. Other veteran Waseem netted from the close range after a good left side move. Wapda's last goal was scored by little Asad Shabbir, who availed a rebound.

Though, he conceded five goals, the SNGPL net minder Hafiz Ali did make quite a few good saves in the open play. For Wapda, Irfan Junior particularly looked dangerous and made several penetrations into the circle and attempts on the goal. SNGPL hardly tested the rival goalkeeper and had just one penalty corner in 60 minutes.

The second match of the day saw defending champions PIA had to dig deep to edge past Police 4-3. The cops adopted a good strategy as they defended in numbers and were fast on turn overs, and also employed effective long balls. Consequently, PIA had few shots in the open play despite a number of circle penetrations; all their goals came off penalty corners.

Police were unlucky to concede the first goal. In the 12th minute, off PIA's second penalty crooner, Irfan Senior’s weak push went in via the line stopper's stick. Police had two excellent chances in the first quarter but Bilal Mahmood misfired each time from the top of the circle going for high backhanders despite having all the time to try from the open side. In the 17th minute, police's star forward Sharjeel scored the equaliser. He came from nowhere to flick a high ball into the goal. The score at the half time was 2-1 in favour of PIA.

The second half followed the same script. PIA had more of the possession and earned penalty crooners while police making lightening raids off and on. Sharjeel again restored the parity off his team's second penalty crooner. Standing on the right side of the circle's top, the ball was passed to him and his hit found the far corner of the board.

PIA's third penalty crooner goal came through Ehsanullah, whose deft push deceived the goal keeper. Then Irfan had his second off the next penalty crooner through a variation. Kashif slipped the ball to Irfan standing close to him on the left side, who pushed strongly into the roof of the net. Two goals up with 13 minutes left, PIA continued to press forward. But in the 51st minute, another long ball was well received by the irresistible Sharjeel in the PIA's circle. He sounded the board with an excellent diagonal shot. Thus Sharjeel completed his third hat-trick of these nationals.

In the third and last match of the day, Railways went down fighting to NBP 0-2. National Bank's Bilal Qadir availed a cross from the right side by sounding the board with a superb reverse hit in the 2nd minute. After wasting their first penalty coroner, the bankers doubled the lead in the 41st minute. Atiq Arshad finished a good move with a fine top of the circle reverse grounder. After that both the teams kept on trying to score a goal, but they failed in doing so.

The Nation

Final berth on the line as seventh round commences today

KARACHI: Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), Sui Northern Gads Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), Pakistan WAPDA and Habib Bank Limited (HBL) will battle it out for a place in the final of the National One-day Cup for Departments when the seventh and final round commences on Thursday (today).

After six rounds of action, the above-mentioned teams all have eight points to their name with only the net run rate separating the sides. SSGC lead the charts followed by SNGPL, WAPDA and HBL respectively. The other four teams, United Bank Limited (UBL), Khan Research Laborites (KRL), National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) are out of contention for the final as they all lie on four points. SSGC and SNGPL will lock horns at the National Stadium in Karachi, while HBL take on PIA and WAPDA face KRL at the SBP Sports Complex in Karachi and the Arbab Niaz Stadium in Hyderabad respectively. NBP and UBL, meanwhile, play at the UBL Sports Complex.

SSGC’s Ziaul Haq, who is the second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament, believes his side have an upper hand in the tie against SNGPL. “We have been performing well in the six matches so far. Fawad Alam has been a great captain and has kept the best team combination,” he was quoted as saying. “Shoaib Malik has also been a great support to the bowlers; his presence and experience always helps. We are confident we can beat SNGPL and make it to the final.” SNGPL’s Imran Butt, who acknowledges the difficult challenge posed by SSGC, says his team will give their all to emerge victorious from the tie. “It will be difficult to face SSGC as they have a good bowling attack. We will try to stay on the crease and do our part to make it to the final.” Meanwhile, Fahim Ashraf, who is the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 15 wickets, feels that his HBL side will comfortably win against a ‘weak’ PIA. “PIA is a week team and are at the foot of the table. We can beat them easily,” he said.

The Daily Times

Pakistan hockey continues to struggle for glory

By: Muhammad Ali

Pakistan hockey continued to struggle for glory throughout the year 2016 without any success.

Each time, there has been a hue and cry over the dismal state of affairs but the fact is that Pakistan continues to nosedive further as time passes. Weak infrastructure, lack of stars, doping problems, substandard coaches, an illogical domestic calendar, dwindling sponsorship money and the ever-shrinking national circuit have left Pakistan sports in a poor shape. It is little wonder that Pakistan has not won a medal at the Olympics since the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Not much hope for hockey in 2017

No sporting federation is a bed of roses, especially one that carries the aspirations of the nation. We are not a nation of sage souls. Rather we indulge in thoughtless decisions. Unfortunately, the technical understanding of issues is always ignored, and it triggers a rot. Throughout the year a multitude of sins in management, selection and coaching always got covered up through one cliché or the other. Ignored were the slips in the selection and the secretive manipulation that go behind the scenes for personal gains and self-aggrandisment, with constructive criticism always a poor second to the waving of the flag. The statements given by the Pakistan Hockey Federation top officials in the national media after the teams insipid performances were aimed at to make people believe that the national outfits were doing well, and that there was light at the end of the tunnel. The fact was that the way things were being conducted, the days ahead were anything but that. Despite all the available resources and hefty funds in the last one year, the PHF failed to put hockey back on track and get the desired results.

Pakistanis have an emotional connection with hockey; the older generation still talks and recall with great delight the spellbinding achievements of the past. While the present generation only has tales of the past to live on. Their love or connection with hockey is only going to be strengthened when they actually see the return of the lost glory. The need of the hour is to bring Pakistan hockey into line with the rest, best and the latest aspects of modern hockey as the game has changed a lot in recent years. Even the best of players cannot win without strategic strength as all team games need to have excellent preemptive and offensive strategies worked out scientifically. And for that we need those persons at the helm of affairs who are thorough professionals with solution to the predicament. Only then the elusive triumphs will replace the current tragedies that demean the team once basking in Olympic golds and world crowns. But with the present controversial and incompetent management in the national federation, the future looks not that bright. What is worse, it seems to be on an irrevocable downward slide. And realistically speaking, one should not harbour any hopes of the national hockey team doing any better or revive themselves to their former glory in 2017.

PHF snubs Champions Trophy invite over ‘fear of defeat’

In March, the incompetent management of the PHF turned down an offer from the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to play in the Champions Trophy over ‘fear of defeat’. Being the silver medallists in the last edition in 2014, the FIH had extended the invitation to Pakistan to play in the elite team event but Pakistan turned down the offer citing ‘unpreparedness’. The PHF said there was no point to send the team to the Champions Trophy when it was expected to finish at the sixth place. Pakistan are the only Asian champions, with three titles to their name including the first two in 1978 and 1980 and the last coming in 1994. In 35 tournaments so far, Pakistan had appeared in 31 events winning three golds, seven silvers and as many bronze medals. 2016 Champions Trophy was originally scheduled to be held in Argentina but the men’s event was switched to London after the FIH cancelled its contract with the Argentine Hockey Confederation over a dispute about television rights contracts and sponsorship. The event was held at the London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in June. The Australians have won the trophy thirteen, the Germans ten, and the Dutch eight times.

Pakistan finish fifth at Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Hockey Tournament

In April, Australia defeated India 4-0 to be crowned the champions of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, being played in Ipoh, Malaysia. In a classification match, Pakistan defeated Canada 3-1 to finish fifth, out of seven teams, in the tournament. Pakistan managed to win only two matches from a total of six in the competition. New Zealand’s title defence ended with a bronze medal after they beat hosts Malaysia 5-4 in a shootout following an exciting 3-3 draw.

The Daily Times

NB: This story on Pakistan Sport overall has been edited to only include the Hockey content.

Vijay Goel felicitates junior men’s team

Hockey / Players left disappointed at not being able to meet the Prime Minister

Uthra Ganesan

A happy bunch: Sports Minister Vijay Goel with the World Cup-winning juniors.  

The World Cup-winning Indian junior men’s hockey team was felicitated by Sports Minister Vijay Goel here on Wednesday.

Even though the players appreciated the gesture and thanked the ministry for the recognition, it was a let-down for most of them who had been told that the team would get a chance to meet the Prime Minister in the morning.

The entire squad and coaching staff had gathered in the capital for the felicitation that also saw Goel announce a cash incentive of Rs. 3.70 lakh each for the players.

Several players, while in Kolkata for the Beighton Cup, had been quoted saying they would seek job assurances from the Prime Minister at the meeting.

But the team remained cooped up in rooms at the DLTA before arriving for Goel’s felicitation in the evening. “We were told we would be meeting the Prime Minister and we were excited about it, but there was nothing.

“We don’t know whether it was a late development or some kind of miscommunication, but all of us were given to believe the same. Even our families were looking forward to our meeting Mr. Modi. It would have been a big honour for us,” most of the players said.

They, however, welcomed the reward announced by the ministry.

“It’s a great encouragement for us to be recognised for the achievement. It reassures us that the government is behind us in our efforts,” they said.

Physio quits

Meanwhile, Shrikant Iyengar, who had been associated with the Indian hockey teams for almost eight years as physio, gave in his resignation letter on Wednesday citing personal reasons.

Shrikant was largely credited with ensuring the players’ fitness and successful rehabilitation after injuries, and was seen as a permanent fixture with Indian hockey, working with both men and women.

Hockey India has accepted his resignation and will look for a replacement in the coming months since the national side has no assignment scheduled till March.

The Hindu

Indian hockey rose in stature in 2016

Batra’s elevation to the FIH chief’s post has also changed the power centre of world hockey from Europe to Asia

A good year-ender for Indian hockey. Indian team celebrates with the Junior Hockey World Cup.   | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

A few disappointments aside, it was all about Indian hockey’s phenomenal rise in stature, both on and off the field, in 2016 with a historic silver medal in the Champions Trophy and Junior World Cup title after a hiatus of 15 years being the biggest achievements.

If the Champions Trophy silver, gold in Asian Champions Trophy and Junior World Cup title were the high points on the turf, former Hockey India chief Narinder Batra’s election to the post of International Hockey Federation (FIH) President was the talking point off the pitch in the year goneby.

Batra was unanimously elected to the FIH president’s post in November this year, thus becoming the first Indian and Asian to head the world body since its inception.

Batra’s elevation to the FIH chief’s post has also changed the power centre of world hockey from Europe to Asia.

2016 was an Olympic year and much was expected from India and the eight-time Olympic champions did achieve success on the pitch barring a few failures — major among them being a loss to Pakistan in the final of the SAF Games and a quarterfinal exit in the Rio Games.

But at the fag end of the year, the Indian colts lifted the Junior World Cup title after a long gap of 15 years on their home turf in Lucknow.

The year, however, started on a bad note for the sport.

For those who believe in perfect starts, defeat at the hands of arch-rivals Pakistan in Guwahati in the SAF Games final for the third consecutive time was as disastrous a beginning as one could imagine.

In the earlier two editions of the Games in 2006 and 2010, Pakistan had won the gold by beating India.

But the SAF Games team did give India two players — goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya and Ajit Kumar Pandey — who played an major role in the nation’s title triumph in the Junior World Cup later in the year.

Meanwhile, the senior men’s side travelled to Ipoh, Malaysia for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, a tournament looked upon as a preparation for the Rio Olympics.

Dutchman Roelant Oltmans’ was at the helm and was given the charge of preparing the side for the Olympics following the unceremonious exits of Terry Walsh and Paul van Ass.

In the Azlan Shah Cup, it was smooth sailing for India till the final where they were hammered 4-0 by the mighty Australians.

The thrashing once again raised questions about India’s submission against big teams in big matches and Oltmans was desperate to prove the theory wrong in his next assignment.

The Dutchman, a master tactician, then decided to change the composition of the team and he was helped by a rare controversy involving the talismanic Sardar Singh.

Then Indian captain was accused of sexual exploitation by a British citizen, Ashpal Kaur Bhogal, and to keep him safe the ace midfielder was left out from the London-bound Champions Trophy squad.

In the Champions Trophy, the Indians played out of their skins to reach the title clash, where they probably played their best match of not only the year against a very strong Australian outfit only to end on the losing side.

Despite the loss, the Indian team created history — a Champions Trophy silver as they had never gone beyond the bronze earlier.

Then came the event which the hockey crazy fans of the country were looking forward to, the Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro.

With dip in form and controversy surrounding him, Sardar was removed as captain and in his place ace goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was handed over the arm-band for Rio Olympics.

With a rich Olympic history behind it, much was expected from the Indians in the Rio Games.

The Indians did impress in the league stages and expectedly qualified for the quarterfinals in Rio where they lost 1-3 against a resurgent Belgium despite taking the initial lead.

The Indian eves too created their own bit of history in 2016 by qualifying for the Olympics after a gap of 36 years.

But their campaign turned out to be even more disappointing as they finished last in the 12-team competition having managed to draw just one game (2-2 against Japan).

The quarterfinal exit of the men’s team not only broke the hearts of the players but also the hopes a billion countrymen who now will have to wait for four more years for the elusive medal when the Games head to Tokyo.

The Indian men’s next assignment was the Asian Champions Trophy in Kuantan, Malaysia and chief coach Oltmans made it clear to his wards before leaving for Malaysia that only the trophy would to some extent, heal the Olympic ouster pain.

The Indian players rightly responded to his call and defeated arch-rivals Pakistan 3-2 in the final to lift the Asian Champions Trophy for a second time.

The burden of captaincy gone, Sardar sparkled in Kuantan, while Rupinder Pal Singh finally stamped his authority as a defender as well as penalty corner specialist with 11 goals in the tournament.

It was then left to the junior men’s team to provide a resounding and perfect send-off to the year and the colts didn’t disappoint. The hosts produced a commanding performance from the word go to reclaim the Junior World Cup title by beating Belgium 2-1 in the final.

For Indian hockey, 2016 was a year in which much was promised and achieved as well. It was also a year where India made significant and visible advancements. But deep down somewhere the pain of missing out on an Olympic medal will remain for four more years.

But 2016 was nonetheless a good year for Indian hockey and from here on, it’s all about ticking the right boxes next year to carry on the gradual progress.

The Hindu

Hockey in 2016: A breakthrough year with glorious memories

Barring the quarterfinal exit at Rio Olympics, 2016 was a good year for Indian hockey both on and off the pitch.

by Vinay Siwach

India won the Asian Champions Trophy after beating Pakistan in the final.

If we put a few disappointments aside, it was one of the better years for Indian hockey. Not only did the players perform exceptionally on the field, off the field as well it was a year of growth for India. There were many highlights this year for India with biggest possibly being the junior team winning the World Cup after a 15 year period.

Even the senior team showed great signs of growth, especially with their show in the Champions Trophy and then winning the Asian Champions Trophy. Not to forget that they reached the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics as well.

Narinder Batra succeeds Leandro Negre, who had been the FIH chief since 2008. (Source: FIH/Twitter)

Off the field, Hockey India president Narinder Batra became the president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) after he was unanimously elected to the top in November this year. He is the first Indian and Asian to hold this post.

Being an Olympic year, 2016 was a also a reality check for India – eight-time Olympic gold medallists. All the hard work and preparations of the last three years would culminate into the biggest extravaganza for sports. And India didn’t necessarily disappoint – unlike the 12th and last place place finish at the London Olympics. They performed decently enough to reach the quarters, where they lost to Belgium.

The consecutive losses to Pakistan in the South Asian Games and only a quarters finish in Rio de Janeiro will hurt India the most this year. The twin losses to the arch-rivals in Guwahati added agony to Indian players and population with images of Pakistan players removing their shirts and celebrating at the 2014 Champions Trophy still fresh in their minds. It was India’s third straight loss to the neighbours.

After the unceremonious exits of Terry Walsh and Paul van Ass in the past two years, the reign for the Indian team was firmly in control of Roelant Oltmans and the off-the-field drama was averted in an Olympic year. At the Sultan of Azlan Shah Cup, which was the final big tournament in the prelude to the Olympics, India had a good run but the win was denied by an Australian dominant show that saw the Kookaburras win 4-0.

India lost to Australia in the Champions Trophy final in a penalty shoot-out.

At the Champions Trophy in England, announced as the new venue after Argentina couldn’t fulfill the required hosting duties, India finished second right behind Australia.

India were denied agonisingly by the Tim Deavin led side to go down 3-1 in the penalty shoot out after the teams were locked 0-0 after the regulation 60 minutes. Despite the loss, India showed they belonged to the top level in world hockey. It was also their first silver medal in the tournament’s history.

At the Rio Olympics, the PR Sreejesh-led team impressed everyone in the league stages and made heads turn. The run was only cut short by Belgium in the quarters. In the pool stages, India had two wins in five games against Ireland and Argentina but lost to Germany and Netherlands while being held for a draw by Canada. This helped India to a fourth place finish in Pool B which was enough to move forward.

In the quarterfinal stages, Akashdeep Singh gave India the lead against Belgium but that was wiped off with a Sebastien Dockier brace and then a clincher by Tom Boon.

There was more history to this Olympics. The Indian women’s team qualified for the Games after a gap of 36 years but could not pull off an inspiring performance, finishing last in a 12-team competition. The eves could only draw once against Japan – in a come-from-behind 2-2 performance. But they were thumped 3-0 by Great Britain, 6-1 by Australia and 3-0 by United States to end the Summer Games on a sour note.

India avenged the SAF Games loss to Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy. They beat them 3-2 in the final to lift the title for the second time. The tournament allowed Sardar Singh to make his mark once again in the middle of the pitch after a long time with burden of captaincy gone and controversy surrounding his alleged fiance behind him. At Kuantan, Rupinder Pal Singh also stamped his mark with perfect defending and scoring 11 goals – mostly from the penalty corner – an area that has been India’s nemesis in the past.

Later, the Indian women’s team would also go on to lift the title.

India beat Belgium in the Junior Hockey World Cup final in Lucknow.

The icing on the cake in hockey was the junior team’s exceptional effort to be crowned as World Champions in the World Cup. Beating teams like Australia, England and Belgium to lift the trophy will be a moment that most hockey fans will keep in their minds for long. For it to come in front of Indian fans who braved the tough cold conditions of Lucknow.

On the whole, it was a good year for India with a silver medal in the Champions Trophy, gold at the Asian Champions Trophy and then a win for the U19 hockey team to lift the World Cup. Away from it, the power centre of world hockey shifted from Europe to Asia.

Indian Express

2016 Review - Women's National Team - Part 1

Shaheed Devji

Today, we continue our review of 2016 with a look back at the year for Canada’s senior women’s field hockey team. The year was chock-full of competition against top teams, making it an important development one for Canada’s Women’s National Team.

Later this week, stay tuned for Part 2 of the Women’s National Team review, in which four members of the team talk about the best parts of the year. Also this week, we count down the Top Canadian field hockey moments of 2016.

In 2016, Canada’s Women’s National Team began its quest towards the 2020 Olympic Games. With an increased World Ranking after the 2015 season, during which the team picked up a medal (bronze) at the Pan American Games for the first time in 16 years, the Canadian women saw their competition schedule filled with top-tiered nations, headed to the Olympic Games.

After kicking things off with a four-game series against their rivals to the south, the United States, in February, the women focused their attention to the invite-only Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand.

A big upset at the 2016 Hawke’s Bay Cup

2016 Hawke's Bay Cup. Women's National Team. April 2, 2016 vs Korea. 2-1 win. Karli Johansen.

This tournament was chock-full of teams headed to the 2016 Olympic Games and that Canada was included is a testament to the reputation Coach Ian Rutledge and his players have built internationally over the last several years, and the team’s increasing ability on the field.

The highlight of the tournament – and maybe the year – was undoubtedly Canada’s upset over Korea, who at the time was ranked 9th in the world and was also headed to the Olympic Games.

After falling behind 1-0 in the first half of the first game of the tournament, a strong second half during which Canada scored both its goals led the Canadians to a 2-1 victory over the Olympic-bound Koreans.

It was a proud accomplishment for the Canadian women, and a validation of the direction of the program, which despite missing out on the 2016 Games, is trending in positively in many metrics associated with successful international hockey teams.

For the rest of the Hawke’s Bay Cup, Canada played solid hockey and narrowly missed out on the semifinal after a 1-0 loss to China, a team also headed to Rio. In its final game, the team dropped another 1-0 decision to Olympic-bound India.

Overall, the Hawke’s Bay Cup was a competition during which the Canadian women showed the world that they fit right in amongst the top hockey teams in the world.

Continuing play against the top-tier

2016 Hawke's Bay Cup. Women's National Team vs Japan. Brienne Stairs.

After the Hawke’s Bay Cup, Canada took part in two pre-Olympic tournaments, one in in Japan against a Japanese team that finished 10th at the Olympics, and another in the United States which ended up finishing 5th at the Rio Olympics.

In Japan in June, the Women’s National Team played two games Osaka, and two games in Gifu against the Japanese, who were in their final stages of Olympic preparation.

In the United States in July, Canada played three games: the first two against India and the final game against the United States. For both opponents, it was a final opportunity to be game tested before the Olympics in Rio, and for Canada, it was yet another chance to close the gap with the top-tier.

Finishing the year off at home

The summer consisted of a short break for the Canadian women. They reconvened in their training home of Vancouver in September to begin a long stretch of training to close out the year. The 14 straight weeks of training included some team bonding exercises such as a trip to Whistler, but was mainly focused on developing skills and improving as a team.

Having played in a large number of games across the world over the last two years, the training block afforded the squad – which will be back to a busy and pressure packed schedule in 2017 – some time to once again make leaps in their individual and team abilities.

The women ended 2016 ranked 18th in the world and with a renewed sense of purpose towards the 2018 World Cup and 2020 Olympics as they continue to rise in experience, ability, and reputation.

Next year, the Canadian women will host World League Round 2, part of the 2018 Women’s World Cup qualification, in West Vancouver from April 1-9 2017.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Division One left with eight teams after Terengganu Juniors pull out

KUALA LUMPUR: Terengganu Juniors have withdrawn from next month’s Malaysian Hockey League (MHL).

With the pull-out, Division One will now have eight teams. They are Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), RMAF Rajawali, Nur Insafi, Politeknik Malaysia, Johor, Univer­siti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Police and Bukit Jalil Sports School (BBJS).

There are also eight teams competing in the Premier Division.

Double champions Terengganu lead the cast. The others are Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC), Maybank, Tenaga Nasional, Univer­siti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), TNB Thunderbolt, SSTMI and UiTM-KPT.

Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) chief executive officer K. Logan Raj said Terengganu Juniors did not give any reasons for their withdrawal.

“We will refer the pull-out to the executive board for discussion. Any further action on Terengganu Juniors will be decided by the board,” said Logan.

The MHL will start on Jan 6 with the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Knockout Trophy. The MHC hope to complete the 16-team tournament by Jan 14.

The league will kick off with the Charity Shield clash on Jan 20.

Terengganu are likely to meet KLHC as Sapura are not competing next season.

Sapura were second in the league as well as in the overall championship last season while KLHC finished third.

The Star of Malaysia

Yahya has been tasked to develop Johor players

by S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: Former international Yahya Atan (pic) has been tasked to take Johor to greater heights in hockey.

Besides being the development coach, Yahya will also handle the Johor team when they make their debut in Division One of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) next season.

“It will be a challenging task. Johor want to develop their team on a long-term basis and their target is to have formidable teams for the 2018 and 2020 Sukma (Malaysia Games),” said Yahya, who steered Sapura to the inaugural Tan Sri P. Alagendra Knockout Trophy last season.

“Our team will not only play in the MHL, but also in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL). And the focus is to select Johor-born players to play as a team,” he added.

Besides Johor, the other teams in Division One are Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), RMAF Rajawali, Nur Insafi, Politeknik Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Police and Bukit Jalil Sports School (BBJS).

Politeknik Malaysia and Premier Division outfit SSTMI are also based in Johor.

“But Politeknik Malaysia and SSTMI are not truly Johor teams as their players come from all over the country.

“We want to give Johor-born players the opportunity to play at national level and develop their full potential,” said Yahya.

Yahya’s first assignment is the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Knockout Trophy, which begins on Jan 6. The league will only start on Jan 20.

“We’ve not set any target. The main objective is to expose the players. It’s a learning curve, but I hope to see them improve as the season progresses,” said Yahya.

The Star of Malaysia

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