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News for 02 January 2019

All the news for Wednesday 2 January 2019

Three teams to vie for titles in MHL

By Jugjet Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) will be a seven-horse race, but only three teams look like battle-ready to win titles.

The overwhelming favourites are Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) and Tenaga Nasional (TNB).

And while TNB received a bye into the semi-finals of the P. Alagendra Cup, the other six will play in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

UniKL and THT are expected to cruise into the semi-finals with ease, while it will be a close battle between Maybank and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), who will face-off in the last-eight.

UniKL, if they beat TNB Thunderbolts, will take on TNB in the last-four.

This is easy to predict, based on the quality of players available in the MHL.

TNB have decided not to hire foreign players for the second straight season, but they have the best locals in the country.

They have signed 10 national players and among them are goalkeeper S. Kumar and forward Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin

As for UniKL, they have World Cup penalty corner flicker Razie Rahim and national captain Shukri Mutalib along with former internationals Baljit Singh and Harwinder Singh.

Irish goalkeeper David Harte and Australian striker Keiren Govers along with Dutch internationals Valentin Verga and Robbert Kemperman are Unikl’s foreign signings.


Thursday: Quarter-finals — Maybank v Universiti Teknologi Mara (National Stadium I, 4pm), UniKL v TNB Thunderbolts (National Stadium I, 6pm), NurInsafi v Terengganu Hockey Team (National Stadium I, 8pm).

New Straits Times

Terengganu turn to locals to deliver in MHL opener

By K. Rajan

PETALING JAYA: Terengganu may have to rely on locals in their Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) opener against Nur Insafi at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil tomorrow.

The East Coast side’s Argentine players Pablo Xavier Travisan and Gonzalo Merino, and Pakistani Ammad Shakeel Butt will only join the team after their opening match.

Three others – Wales’ Daniel Kyriakides and South Koreans Jung Man-jae and Jang Jong-hyun – are doubtful as they are down with a bout of fever.

The team, however, have several national players in their ranks including Nabil Fiqri Mohammad Noor (pic), Azri Hassan and the Saari brothers – Fitri and Faizal – who can deliver the results.

Terengganu coach I. Vicknes­waran said he’s confident that his men can still deliver the result despite playing without the foreign players.

“Our Welsh and South Korean players are not feeling well. Kyriakides has been vomiting so I might have to quarantine them to avoid the other players from getting infected if it’s some kind of bug,” said the former international yesterday.

“The other three imports will be joining us later after the opening match but I don’t see it as a big problem. We still have some of the top national players in the team who can get the job done for us.”

Vickneswaran said the expectation is high to win one of the three titles this year.

Terengganu have bagged nine titles in the last five years under former national coach Sarjit Singh.

They’ve won the Premier Division four times in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018, the overall title (TNB Cup) four times in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup once in 2017.

“We started our training later than the other teams in the MHL due to various reasons.

“I believe the other teams have prepared well for the season, so it will not be easy for us but we’re ready to give a fight,” said Vickneswaran.

The Star of Malaysia

P. Alagendra Cup stays put


KUALA LUMPUR: The quarter-final matches of the P. Alagendra Cup, which starts on Thursday, will take place at the main pitch of the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil here, even though it is damaged.

Pitch Two is off limits as it is in an unplayable state for hockey matches. Both pitches will be closed for refurbishment on Feb 11.

However, Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) tournament director Jusvir Singh said if there are complaints from teams after Thursday’s quarter-final round, efforts would then be made to find other venues.

"For now, we will use the main pitch for the P. Alagendra Cup.

"The main pitch, although not in its ideal state, is much better compared to the second turf,” said Jusvir.

And for the Premier Division, which starts on Jan 11, Jusvir noted that all seven teams have been informed about the condition of the pitches.

"As for the Premier Division, it’s up to the respective clubs to choose their home venues.

"And so, the three teams (Tenaga Nasional, TNB Thunderbolts and Maybank) who earlier selected the National Stadium as their home venue will need to reconfirm by Thursday on whether they want to stay on.

It is understood that the artificial pitches, laid just before last year’s Kuala Lumpur Sea Games are still under warranty and will need at least six weeks to be repaired.

MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal hopes both pitches will be ready before the Hockey Series Finals (on April 23-May 1).

New Straits Times

Uniten snare Kirandeep


KUALA LUMPUR: In the bid to defend their title, PKS Uniten have signed national player Kirandeep Kaur for the upcoming Women’s Malaysia Hockey League (WMHL).

Kirandeep’s inclusion is a huge boost as the 16-year-old was part of the national team for last year’s World Series in Singapore and the Asian Games in Indonesia.

Uniten coach Lailin Abu Hassan believes Kirandeep, who played for Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) last season, will help his side to achieve their target in the competition.

“She is a player with talent and we are confident the midfielder will make a difference for us,” said Lailin.

The other notable signings are national players Hanis Nadiah Onn, Raja Norsharina Shabuddin, Nuraini Rashid and Surizan Awang.

Lailin said: "We have a mixed squad of seniors and juniors.

“I hope our juniors will take this opportunity to gain experience from the campaign,” he added.

Uniten won the league on goal difference over Blue Warriors after both teams finished with 30 points.

However, Blue Warriors won the overall title.

Other teams in the fray are China’s Liaoning Infinite Space HC, KL Wipers, PSHA-MSSPP, SSTMI and Terengganu Ladies.

New Straits Times

After quiet 2018, focus now on fight for Olympic tickets


Telkom coach Jos Openda (left) and captain Tracy Karanja lead Kenyan hockey queens in celebrations after they were presented with the trophy for winning the women’s 2017-18 Premier League on February 18, 2018 at City Park Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

As hockey takes stock of the 2018 season that had no major internationals for the national teams, 2019 promises to be busy for both the men and women’s sides with the qualifying tournament for next year's Tokyo Olympics scheduled for August in South Africa.

The competition will run from August 12 to 18, after which the African Games, slated for October 14-21 in Morocco, take over.

But hockey will not be part of the continental games as the northern Africa hosts don't have hockey facilities.

That means that the continental championships in South Africa will double up as qualifiers for Tokyo Olympics.

As usual, the men and women’s hockey Premier Leagues will be in focus locally where Butali Sugar Warriors and Telkom Kenya will be defending their titles in the action planned to start at the end of March.

The Africa Club Championships will also be held in December at a venue set to be announced, where Butali Sugar Warriors and Kenya Police will represent Kenya in men while Telkom Kenya and Strathmore University will carry the country's flag in women’s event.

It’s envisaged that Butali Sugar and Police will honour the continental assignment this time around, having missed the last two editions in Accra and Abuja.

Last year, the focus was mainly on club action both locally and the Africa Club Championships.

Telkom Kenya claimed their unprecedented 21st hockey Premier League title with Butali Sugar Warriors recapturing the men’s title.

Telkom Kenya would then crown the season by recapturing the Africa Club Championships women’s crown after claiming revenge against Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) during the championship that ended on December 22 in Abuja.

As United States International University (USIU) settled for fourth at the continental event, Kenya was not represented in the men’s championship with Kenya Police and Butali Sugar choosing to stay away.

It was sweet and swift revenge for Telkom against the Ghanaians, who had beaten them 1-0 to lift the 2017 title in Accra.

The ever-green Jacky Mwangi and Audrey Omaido's second and third quarter goals, respectively, were what Telkom needed to claim revenge and become the most decorated women’s club on the continent with the 10th continental cup success.

Telkom Kenya sealed their place in the final via a 1-0 win over hosts Kada Queens.

USIU, who were making their maiden continental appearance, settled for fourth after they lost to Ghana Police 2-0 in the play-off for bronze medal.

Telkom won the diadem for the first time in 1998 then followed it up with victories in 2000 and 2001 then in 2009.

They won back-to-back from 2012 to 2017, lost to GRA in 2017 before reclaiming it this year.

Before heading to Ghana, Telkom Kenya had beaten arch-rivals Strathmore University 1-0 in the top of the league duel for the league success and uphold their unbeaten run locally to six years now.

Telkom, who are yet to lose the national title since reclaiming the crown from Sliders in 1999, only conceded three goals in their clean run in 12 matches of 36 points.

The only time Telkom conceded goals was when they beat Sliders 7-2 and Chase Amira 5-1.

Strathmore finished second with 28 points from nine wins, two losses and a draw.

They only lost to Telkom Kenya 2-0 and 1-0 respectively.

Unassailable lead

The men’s Premier League and Super League were full of drama what with the title chase, promotion and relegation battles going down to the wire.

Poor officiating and protests also marred the men’s Premier League during the season that saw a new format put in place.

By the end of the first leg, Butali Sugar and defending champions Kenya police had taken an unassailable lead from the chasing pack.

Butali and Police tied with 27 points each at the top of the league from 10 matches each with Wazalendo a distant third with 19 points from 12 matches.

The second leg was all set with Butali and Police toe-to-toe.Police requested to be exempted from the start of the second leg owing to a cash crunch.

The move saw Butali strengthen their league lead to 42 points from 15 matches while Police had 30 from 11 matches.

Butali and Police had lost one match each. Butali had crashed 3-0 to Police in the first leg with the men in blue going down to Greensharks 3-2 at the start of the second leg campaign.

As Butali lost to Parkroad Badgers 2-1 in a match that was poorly officiated, Police were zeroing in on the leaders. With four matches to go Butali were on 48 points while Police had 45 points with six matches to go.

Then on November 4, poor officiating and protest marred the Kenya Police and Wazalendo match. Wazalendo protested at how one of the umpires was handling the match as they allowed Police to score at will to eventually win 16-2.

KHU would launch investigations into the controversial match as the Union’s President Nahashon Randiek convened a meeting for umpires and technical officials on November 17 to discuss poor officiating and protest.

Daily Nation

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