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News for 16 December 2017

All the news for Saturday 16 December 2017

Meet the men's nominations for the Rising Star of the Year

The five shortlisted players for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Rising Star of the Year award have all made a huge impact within a short space of time. These are the players who have burst onto the global hockey stage and look destined to shine as supreme athletes on the pitch and inspirational role models off it. The nominated players are in alphabetical order by surname.


Thierry Brinkman was voted Best Junior Player at the Hero Men's Hockey World League Semi-Final in London, a fitting reward for a performance that saw him score three goals, including one in the final. Netherlands took gold at that event and then went on to win gold at the 2017 Rabobank EuroHockey Championships, with Brinkman again playing a major part in the success. Not only is Brinkman a natural goal scorer but he is an agile player whose passes can unlock the opposition's defences.

One moment of brilliance as he spun 360 degrees to beat the ‘keeper in a shoot-out was enough to place the Netherlands’ Jorrit Croon on the watchlist of superstars of the future. That seminal moment, against the Black Sticks in a test match in 2016, was a sign of things to come and the 19-year-old hasn’t stopped wowing since. Croon was called up for the 2016 Olympics and has been a regular in the Netherlands side ever since. Croon was part of the Dutch squad that won both the Hero Men's Hockey World League Semi-Final in London and the Rabobank EuroHockey Championships in Amsterdam. His performances in front of a vociferous Dutch crowd was enough to earn him the Best Junior Player award as Netherlands took the gold medal.

Belgium's Arthur van Doren won last year’s FIH Rising Stars Award after a fantastic campaign with the Red Lions that saw him walk away with an Olympic silver. This year has not seen the 23-year-old’s impact on his national side diminish in any way. He is a player who is mature beyond his years, offering the Belgium team a stability in defence that allows the midfield and forward line to terrorise the opposition with their attacking skills. Van Doren played for Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the Hockey India League, an experience that he says has made him a better player. His award as Player of the Tournament when Belgium won silver at the 2017 Rabobank EuroHockey Championships speaks volumes for this player’s talent.

Germany’s Head Coach Stefan Kermas is looking to emulate the all-conquering team of 2002-2012 with the team he is gathering together. Timm Herzbruch is one of the players that Kermas has brought into the side and a silver at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Johannesburg to add to the bronze from Rio 2016 is not a bad return for the attacking midfielder’s first few months with the national side. Herzbruch is a player who lights up the pitch with fast, silky, mesmerising hockey that uses every inch of the field and final passes that often leave a defence spilt apart. As he showed with his four goals in South Africa, he is certainly no slouch when it comes to finding the back of the net.

Victor Wegnez is another member of the Red Lions who has played such a part in his team’s success since joining the senior set-up. The midfielder’s performances in both the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Johannesburg, where Belgium won the gold medal, and the Rabobank EuroHockey Championships, where they took silver, showed that Wegnez is truly a talent for the future. In 2016, Wegnez was captain of the Belgium Under-21 team that won silver at the Uttar Pradesh Men's Hockey Junior World Cup 2016 and it was his maturity in that role, plus his sparkling presence on the pitch that has made him an important cog in the Red Stick’s wheel of success.

All photos from Getty Images or World Sports Pics


FIH site

2018 National Senior Men’s Squad Confirmed

Ben Somerford

Hockey Australia today announces the 27-member 2018 National Senior Men’s Squad ahead of a big year for the newly crowned world number one Kookaburras.

The Kookaburras will be looking to build on a strong end to 2017, which included winning the FIH World League title, International Festival of Hockey and Oceania Cup as well as re-claiming the world number one ranking.

The Selection Panel considered a number of priorities upon selecting the squad, with a long-term development view to medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics along with achieving performance benchmarks at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April and the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar in November-December.

The Selection Panel also looked to reward impressive performances within the daily training environment and national/international matches throughout 2017.

Jake Harvie, Tim Howard, Lachlan Sharp and Corey Weyer, who all made their Australia debuts in late 2017, have been added, along with uncapped pair Matthew Bird and Tim Brand.

Kiran Arunasalam, Ben Craig and Casey Hammond have been moved into the National Men’s Development Squad, while Andrew Philpott, Josh Pollard and Matthew Willis have been omitted.

Kookaburras head coach Colin Batch said: “We’ve selected a group that we want to see reach its potential for Tokyo.

“We’ve selected a number of younger players that have come through our junior programme. We want to give them an opportunity to grow over the 12-month period and see where they are at the end of the year.

“Four of the six have already tasted international experience with us. All six players added have exciting qualities for the future.

“We had some success towards the end of the year with our programme. We’ve had a lot of changes this year and next year creates a whole different range of challenges for us.

“We know the Commonwealth Games is very important as is the World Cup at the end of the year.

“We’ve taken some steps this year but we know we need to improve a lot if we’re going to have success in those major tournaments next year.”

Western Australian South-West product Harvie, 19, debuted against New Zealand in Bendigo at the International Festival of Hockey (IFOH) in November, before being included in the World League Final team which triumphed in India.

“We saw Jake’s qualities as a deep defender and he’s now played 12 games for Australia,” Batch said. “He’s learning a lot and coped well with the pressures of the World League Final. He’s an exciting prospect for the future.”

Queensland utility Howard, 21, plays for Eastern Suburbs in Brisbane and also debuted against the Black Sticks in Bendigo and accumulated six caps at the IFOH.

“Tim can play in a number of positions and is a very well organised player,” Batch said. “He came up through the Junior World Cup and did well there as one of the leaders. He’s another exciting prospect for us.”

New South Wales midfielder Sharp, 20, who hails from Lithgow and plays for Zig Zag and Ryde Hunters Hill, debuted during the World League Final in India.

“It was a great introduction to play your first game at such a good tournament in India,” Batch said.
“He added a lot to our attacking opportunities and in the midfield.”

Queensland utility Weyer, 21, who hails from the Gold Coast and plays for Labrador Tigerstix, also debuted against New Zealand in Bendigo, accumulating six caps.

“He can play at the back or in the midfield,” Batch said. “He’s been given the opportunity, he’s still got a lot to learn but we think he’s quite a smart player.”

Western Australian utility Bird, 20, plays for Fremantle in Perth and is also uncapped at international level.

“He can play in midfield or up front,” Batch said. “He’s got a mature body already and has a big engine. He can create from the midfield. We’re interested to see how he can develop over the next 12 months.”

New South Wales forward Brand, 18, scored two goals at the Under-21 National Championships in July as his state triumphed. He also plays for Ryde Hunters Hill and is uncapped.

“He’s developed well over the last 12 months,” Batch said. “He just missed Junior World Cup selection. He knows where to go to get the ball and we need to add depth to our strike group. Hopefully he can provide it.”

Batch also acknowledged the efforts of the players who missed out on being part of the 2018 squad.

“Those three, Kiran Arunasalam, Ben Craig and Casey Hammond, go back into the Development Squad and we’re still looking at them as part of the future,” Batch said.

“We also thank Andrew Philpott, Josh Pollard and Matthew Willis for their commitment to the programme and we wish them well in their future endeavours.”

The Kookaburras squad will reconvene in Perth on Monday 15 January after a break, ahead of the four-match Test series against the Netherlands starting that month in Narrogin and Perth.

Kookaburras squad:

Athlete (City, State)

Daniel Beale (Brisbane, QLD)
Joshua Beltz (Hobart, TAS)
Matthew Bird (Coolbellup, WA)
Tim Brand (Chatswood, NSW)
Andrew Charter (Canberra, ACT)
Tristan Clemons (Bunbury, WA)
Tom Craig (Lane Cove, NSW)
Matthew Dawson (Killarney Vale, NSW)
Jeremy Edwards (Hobart, TAS)
Blake Govers (Wollongong, NSW)
Jeremy Hayward (Darwin, NT)
Jake Harvie (Dardanup, WA)
Tim Howard (Wakerley, QLD)
Aaron Kleinschmidt (Melbourne, VIC)
Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD)
Tyler Lovell (Perth, WA)
Trent Mitton (Perth, WA)
Edward Ockenden (Hobart, TAS)
Flynn Ogilvie (Wollongong, NSW)
Lachlan Sharp (Lithgow, NSW)
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD)
Corey Weyer (Biggera Waters, QLD)
Jacob Whetton (Brisbane, QLD)
Tristan White (Wollongong, NSW)
Tom Wickham (Morgan, SA) *Plays for WA
Dylan Wotherspoon (Murwillumbah, NSW) *Plays for QLD
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA)

Hockey Australia media release

National Hockey Championships kick off in Sukkur on Saturday

Pakistan hockey's premier domestic event, the National Championships start in Sukkur from Saturday.

Syed Khursheed Shah, the opposition leader in the National Assembly, will inaugurate the 64th National Championships.

16 departmental and 8 provincial teams are participating.
The departmental teams have been placed in four pools while the provincial sides will compete in two other pools.

It is worth mentioning that two departmental teams, Fauji Fertilisers and ZTBL are making their maiden appearance in the Nationals.

It was through the personal interest and efforts of the President PHF, Brig (rtd) Khalid Khokhar that the management of these departments agreed to raise their hockey teams.   The two outfits have employed a number of promising youngsters including some members of Pakistan's junior national team.

Departmental Teams:
PIA (defending Champions), Army, Customs, PTV, National Bank, Police, Port Qasim Authority, Fauji Fertilisers, Sui Southern Gas Company, Railways, Navy, ZTBL, WAPDA, Sui Northern Gas Pakistan Limited, Higher Education Commission, Air Force

Provincial Teams:
Punjab, Sindh, KPK, Baluchistan, Islamabad, AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan & FATA

Matches on First Day:
FATA vs Gilgit-Baltistan,
Baluchistan vs AJK,
Port Qasim vs Police
Customs vs Army,
ZTBL vs Navy

PHF Media release

Top four tussles lay stage for a Christmas cracker in men’s EYHL

Shane O’Donoghue on the attack against Lisnagarvey’s Ryan Getty. Pic: Sinead Hingston

A Christmas special in the men’s EY Hockey League sees the top four meet each other with the chance for something of a shake-up when Glenanne host Pembroke and Lisnagarvey play Three Rock Rovers.

For leaders Glenanne, they meet one of just two clubs to have taken points off them in the first half of the campaign when they meet at St Andrew’s.

The Glens incredible run so far this season has owed much to self-belief and their ability to dig out results no matter what the situation. Twice, they have come from two goals down to win; only one game has been won by more than a single goal while there have been last ditch winners, too.

Eddie O’Malley has enjoyed a new lease of life, leading the front line with his poacher’s instinct netting six times. Shane O’Donoghue’s influence in midfield, Sam O’Connor’s impetus from the back and the key signing of Iain Walker in goal give them strength through each line.

For Pembroke, Alan Sothern has once again piled on the goals, his 16 goal total more than double anyone else in the EY Hockey League. Tim Hill is back in Dublin and adds energy and experience to the line-up while Belgian Cedric Mushiete has been a strong addition since his return from injury.

The Ballsbridge club advanced to the semi-final of the Neville Cup in midweek with a 6-0 win over Kilkenny, setting up a date with UCD. Three Rock host Trinity in next Tuesday’s other semi-final for a place in the St Stephen’s Day decider.

At Comber Road, the pitch was playable on Friday evening and they will hope the turf can avoid the frost overnight to allow the Lisnagarvey get the go-ahead.

Rovers go to Garvey looking to make better use of their corners than their first meeting. In a 2-1 loss in their first meeting, they spurned nine set pieces as they missed the services of main flicker Luke Madeley.

He is one of three players to have returned since then including Ravin Nair and Jamie Carr but Richard Pautz and David Kane are both injured while Mitch Darling is also unavailable. Ross Canning is available after scoring three goals at the PSi All-Stars games in South Africa.

Paul Gleghorne was not involved the last time the sides played but is back for a Garvey side who look to be close to full strength for the tie. They aim to leap-frog from third into second in a repeat of last season’s Champions Trophy semi-final – the sides are the two top scorers in the division and so there could be fireworks.

Monkstown can close the gap to the leading quartet if they can continue to pile on the frustration for Banbridge. Bann are waiting for their first win in the competition since day two of the campaign, picking up just one point from their last five games with a lengthy injury list.

Monkstown’s form, though, has also been mixed with two points from their last nine available but – with Stephen and Geoff Cole back – they did score a good draw against Glenanne last week.

In the bottom half, Cookstown will be gunning for a little bit of revenge against Ulster rivals Annadale. Earlier in the season, the Reds were on the back of a 4-1 defeat to the Carryduff men at Steelweld Park.

“We are going into the match against Annadale in pretty good form,” said Cookstown skipper Jon Ames. “Our performance against Monkstown, particularly in the final quarter, should give us a lot of confidence as well as setting out the standards that we will need to get back to if we want to get a positive result from the game at Strathearn.

“Annadale showed a real threat on the counter-attack against Monkstown, and so we will have to be ready to nullify and disrupt that where we can. We can’t forget their strength at short corner time through Rhiley Carr either.”

Cork C of I will look to do the double over Railway Union to close out 2017 in mid-table in the men’s EY Hockey League table and well clear of any relegation thoughts.

It comes just five weeks since C of I rolled over the Sandymount club at Garryduff with John Jermyn scoring one of his seven goals to date with Alec Moffett also chipping in.

Neil Welch’s team have been inconsistent with heavy defeats punctuated by solid results against sides in the bottom half of the table.

Jermyn’s corners and Julian Dale’s wizardry are critical, giving them a bit of magic. Railway have been defensively robust for the most part but have lacked the spark and the set piece up front to get more from organised performances.

Elsewhere, there are a couple of Irish Hockey Trophy ties on the agenda with UCC facing Cork Harlequins in the first round while Weston and Newry try again after their second round game was frozen out last week.

The first series of Leinster indoor games takes place on Sunday. The competition will feature reigning champions Three Rock Rovers, Railway Union, Wicklow, Glenanne, Corinthian and Pembroke.

Men’s fixtures (all Saturday)
EY Hockey League: Glenanne v Pembroke, 2pm, St Andrew’s; Annadale v Cookstown, 2.30pm, Strathearn; Lisnagarvey v Three Rock Rovers, 3pm, Comber Road; Railway Union v Cork C of I, 3pm, Park Avenue; Banbridge v Monkstown, 3.30pm, Havelock Park

Irish Hockey Trophy, first round: UCC v Cork Harlequins, 3pm, The Mardyke
Second round: Weston v Newry, 1.30pm, Griffeen Valley Park

Munster Division 1: Limerick v Bandon, 11.30am, Villiers

The Hook

Railway and Pegasus dice for position in playoff chase

Belfast Harlequins’ Lizzie Colvin will meet her former club Loreto. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The women’s EY Hockey League promises one final series of competitive twists and turns before the Christmas break with the final round of games before the winter break kicks in.

Railway Union face a pivotal game against Pegasus in their pursuit of an EY Champions Trophy place. Railway moved into the top four courtesy of a dramatic derby win over Pembroke and are one point behind Pegasus – who were frozen out – in third.

The Sandymount side pulled out all manner of penalty corner variation against Pembroke – often dummying the stop for a player five metres back – which will give Pegs plenty to think about.

The Ulster side will hope they have no ring-rust having not played since November 19 due to the weather and international commitments. It means they also have to play a back match in the Irish Senior Cup on Sunday against Genesis.

Cork Harlequins will hope to feel the warming glow of the Farmer’s Cross fireplace on Saturday evening on a high as they close out the first phase of a productive campaign to date.

When they meet Ards, it will be just their second home game of the season, one which sees them within a point of leaders UCD with seven lengthy road-trips already under their belt.

It will be a tough battle, though, for Stephen Dale’s free-scoring side, facing an Ards team intent on defending compactly, backed up by the excellent Naomi McKnight in goal, before looking to star player Chloe Brown to provide magic at the far end.

Her showdown with Cliodhna Sargent, as such, will be a crucial head-to-head. Win that battle and Quins can then look to get their over-lapping game going, freeing Yvonne O’Byrne to break down the right flank at pace.

It has been a key avenue, delivering perfect service for Naomi Carroll – the league’s top scorer alongside Railway’s Kate Lloyd – and Rebecca Barry’s intertwining runs and one that can serve them well.

Belfast Harlequins face Loreto in what will be just their seventh game of the league campaign, hoping to win their first league tie since November 5. Lizzie Colvin comes up against her former club for the first time in the midst of a strong Quins midfield line-up that has impressed this term but maybe has not landed the full complement of points to match.

UCD meet Trinity on Sunday due to Saturday exams. For the former, Sarah Robinson came out of a cast this week but will not be back until the new year while Sarah Twomey is also carrying a knock. Emma Russell is one the comeback trail, though.

The Belfielders will be hot favourites, especially with Bethany Barr and Katie Mullan in flying form. At times, however, they have not made full use of plentiful chances.

Trinity have gone six games since their maiden win in the competition to sit in ninth place and, realistically, anything they can get from the tie will be a bonus. Key striker Sally Campbell faces the club she played for last term.

There is a full programme of action in Leinster’s Division One where Old Alex will expect to retain their four-point lead in the table when they meet Rathgar. Corinthian face Avoca, a side they have drawn with the last three times they have played, with the reds looking to continue their unbeaten run.

Muckross, of the top three, have the trickiest tie on paper at the miserly North Kildare who had conceded just once at home at The Maws so far this season.

Genesis host Glenanne while 2017’s promoted side Clontarf meet the 2016 edition – Our Ladys – at Mount Temple.

There is one Leinster indoor tie on the schedule with Pembroke playing Glenanne on Sunday at 5.45pm in St Columba’s. They are both in Pool A with Railway Union and Genesis who enter the fray in January along with Pool B which has UCD, Three Rock, Avoca and North Kildare.

Women’s fixtures (Saturday unless stated)
EY Hockey League
Saturday: Railway Union v Pegasus, 1pm, Park Avenue; Cork Harlequins v Ards, 1.05pm, Farmer’s Cross; Belfast Harlequins v Loreto, 2.30pm, Deramore Park

Sunday: UCD v Trinity, 1.30pm, Belfield

Irish Senior Cup, second round (Sunday): Pegasus v Genesis, 1pm, Queens

Munster Division 1: Limerick v Bandon, 3pm, Villiers.

Leinster Division 1: Genesis v Glenanne, 12pm, St Raphaela’s; Clontarf v Our Lady’s, 2pm, Mount Temple; Corinthian v Avoca, 2.15pm, Whitechurch Park; North Kildare v Muckross, 2.30pm, The Maws; Old Alex v Rathgar, 3.05pm, Milltown

The Hook

Final phase of indoor before Christmas break

4 February 2017 at Bells Sports Centre, Perth. Men – National 1 Grand Final Grove Menzieshill v Inverleith – photo by Duncan Gray

As the Indoor National League 1 campaigns enter their final phase before the festive interlude, it will be interesting to see if the Tayside dual spearhead survives this weekend`s confrontations. Certainly Grove Menzieshill seem to be motoring well in the men`s league, and while Dundee Wanderers top the women`s table the chasing pack are only a point adrift.

After only one weekend of competition Grove Menzieshill sit resplendent at the top of men`s Indoor National League 1, three points ahead of Bromac Kelburne and Dundee Wanderers, although the latter have played a game less.

The conclusive manner in which Grove Menzieshill disposed of Grange, Kelburne and the four times champions Inverleith in the opening exchanges put down a marker of intent for Tayside retention of this year`s championship.

The champions will be dead against dropping any points against this weekend`s opponents Edinburgh University and Dundee Wanderers, especially as Grove Menzieshill rattled in 28 goals in their three games so far. Further, their goals came from several quarters with Albert Rowling at the head of the list followed by Ben Cosgrove, Ben Cromar and Cameron Golden.

Several years ago the Tayside derby between Grove Menzieshill and Wanderers was often what decided the destiny of the championship, but recently Wanderers have fallen from grace and were even relegated to the second tier.

But Wanderers have returned to the top flight with some initial success following victories over Edinburgh University and Clydesdale, Fergus Sandison and Bobby Ralph were both prominent on the goalscoring front.

Despite all the hype over this fixture in the past, it is a tough task for Wanderers to trouble their city neighbours. However, before the Tayside fracas Wanderers will be able to sharpen up their act against Hillhead and Inverleith.

Over the last couple of years outdoor champions Kelburne have caused some upsets on the indoor scene, and will undoubtedly do so again. The chief tormentor has been former Scotland striker Johnny Christie. And again in last weekend`s three games Christie bagged eight with set piece expert Josh Cairns not far behind with six.

The Paisley side take on Grange and Hillhead in their two games this weekend, and eyes will be on Christie and Cairns as they look to add to their personal tally, and leave Kelburne firmly tied to second spot.

Stuart Neave was correct in that many of the former stalwarts of his very successful Inverleith side have hung up their sticks. This was a far less experienced side that appeared at Perth last weekend, and they lost to both Grove Menzieshill and Kelburne, but in between Neave`s charges saw off Grange 5-1, captain Patrick Christie led from the front with a hat-trick.

Grange are currently top of the outdoor National League 1 and several of their players have turned out for the indoor squad, but with limited impact so far. The Edinbugh side lost to Grove Menzieshill and Inverleith and eventually picked up their first point in a 6-6 draw with Hillhead, teenager Callum MacKenzie was impressive with four goals. It will be interesting to see if Grange can show more of their potential this weekend against Kelburne and Clydesdale.

At the moment Clydesdale are best placed of the other sides, a win and a defeat was a reasonable start to the campaign, with Paddy Lonergan and Andy MacAllan their top scorers.

3 December 2017 at Bells Sports Centre, Perth. Scottish National Indoor League Division 1 game – Dundee Wanderers v Clydesdale Western – photo by Duncan Gray

It has not been completely plain sailing for champions Dundee Wanderers in the women`s Indoor National League 1 campaign, they top the table but only by a point from Milne Craig Western, Edinburgh University and city rivals Grove Menzieshill.

The non-availability of the outdoor Scotland players to the Commonwealth Games build-up is undoubtedly having an impact on Wanderers` indoor potency, but then again that could also be said of the chasing pack.

After a scare against Western in the first week, Wanderers dropped their first points of the campaign in a 3-3 draw with Edinburgh University last Sunday. Although the champions missed several scoring chances and the students equalised with an overtime penalty corner, it perhaps shows that the Taysiders can be vulnerable.

The Taysiders have three fixtures this weekend against Wildcats, Hillhead and CALA Edinburgh, and if youngsters Emily Dark and Ruth Blaikie along with Amy Snelle can continue to slot home the goals, it is likely they will retain pole position at the end of the day`s proceedings.

Despite losing 5-4 to Wanderers in the first game of the campaign, Western are shaping up to be close challengers, especially if they can repeat the 15 goal tally in their two outings last weekend against Wildcats and CALA.

But this Sunday`s results could provide a clearer indicator, the Titwood-based club take on Hillhead, Edinburgh University and Grove Menzieshill in their three game stint.

The Edinburgh students could be the biggest threat, they are unbeaten in their five games so far, but have taken on the mantle of draw specialists – rather unusual in the indoor game. Last weekend`s draw with Wanderers demonstrated how the students have come on at the indoor game over the past few seasons and their fighting spirit could pose a real threat to Western`s aspirations. They also have goalscorers in the ranks, the likes of Hanna McKie, Bridie Marlow and Louise Campbell along with set piece expert Becky Dru.

Coach Peter Justice`s charges finish off a tough day against a Grove Menzieshill side that are also on nine points but have already lost to Wanderers and Edinburgh University.

Hillhead and CALA have got points in the bag but may not add to their tally as they take on the top sides this weekend. Wildcats might pick up some ground as their final game of the day is against bottom side Kelburne.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Perak to take on Sabah in U-14 showdown

By Aftar Singh

It’s mine: Perak’s Muhd Syafiqal Izran (right) shielding the ball away from KL’s Nazhan Iskandar Fadzil during their National Under-14 Hockey Championships match the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil. Perak won 2-1.

KUALA LUMPUR: Perak will face Sabah in the boys’ final of the National Under-14 Hockey Championships.

The silver state edged Kuala Lumpur 2-1 in the second round match to top Group X at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Sabah advanced after winning both their Group X matches when they edged defending champions Pahang and Johor with identical scores of 1-0 on Wednesday and Thursday.

Perak, who defeated Perlis 3-0 on Wednesday, just needed a draw against KL to seal their place.

But they took no chances as they went into attacking mode and took the lead in the 13th minute through Muhammad Amirul Hanif Mamat.

Five minutes later, Muhammad Syahrul Ikram Mohd Razali sounded the board.

But KL fought back and narrowed the deficit off a field goal by Mohammad Shafiq Abdullah in the 48th minute.

Perak team manager Mohd Salleh Mohd Sharif said they would start as underdogs against the impressive Sabah today.

“Sabah have a solid team as they retained 10 players from last year’s squad. We lost to them in the 2015 final in Melaka. It’s time to avenge our defeat.

“I hope head coach Mohd Azmi Yayha can motivate the players to get the better of the fancied Sabahans,” said Salleh.

Penang qualified for the girls’ final after registering their second win in Group Y by defeating Selangor 3-0 at the Education Ministry Turf.

The islanders, who upset defending champions Pahang 3-2 on Wednesday, will face Group X winners Kuala Lumpur in the final.

Penang, who finished third last year, started well by taking a 2-0 lead in the first 19 minutes.

Aina Maisarah Mohd Zaidi netted a field goal in the 16th minute and three minutes later Siti Nur Atika Shaikh Maznan doubled the score off another field goal.

Nur Aliah Saiful Bahari completed the rout in the 38th minutes.

Penang coach Leo Vincey said his girls made use of their chances well.

“We are happy to qualify for our second final and hopefully this time we’ll nail it,” said Leo.

Penang lost to Terengganu in the final five years ago.

Ask about their chances against KL, Leo said they defeated them 2-1 in a group match but added that the final would be totally a different ball game.

“KL, who won the tournament in 2015, are solid team led by midfielder Kirandeep (Kaur), who is the backbone of the team and she’s been scoring in every match.

“We have to mark her closely.

“I hope my players will rise to the occasion to get the better of KL,” said Leo.

Kirandeep has netted five goals in five matches.

The Star of Malaysia

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