Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dewan Rakyat lulus Akta ISN

Rang Undang-undang Akta Institut Sukan Negara (ISN) 2011 yang dibaca untuk kali kedua dan ketiga telah diluluskan di Dewan Rakyat pada 27 Jun 2011. Rang undang-undang tersebut telah dibentangkan pertama kali pada 14 Mac 2011 setelah dipisahkan dari Majlis Sukan Negara (MSN) secara pentadbiran pada 25 April 2007.

Setelah diluluskan oleh Dewan Rakyat, rang undang-undang Akta ISN 2011 akan dihantar ke Dewan Negara untuk medapatkan kelulusan dan kemudiannya dipersembahkan kepada Yang di-Pertuan Agong untuk diperkenan sebelum diwartakan.

Ini akan menjadikan ISN sebagai satu entiti tersendiri yang memberi fokus kepada perubatan sains dan teknologi sukan di Malaysia serta memberi perkhidmatan sokongan untuk atlet dari peringkat akar umbi sehingga ke peringkat atlet elit dengan menggunakan kaedah saintifik.

Dato’ Dr. Ramlan Abd Aziz, Ketua Pengarah ISN berkata, dengan adanya Akta ISN nanti, banyak perkara yang boleh dibuat antaranya membolehkan ISN melantik lembaga pengarahnya sendiri dalam menentukan tugas dan tanggungjawabnya secara terperinci.

Kewujudan ISN sebagai badan berkanun yang berasingan memberi kesan dan impak yang lebih meluas antaranya membantu Kementerian Belia dan Sukan dalam usaha untuk membudayakan sukan di kalangan rakyat negara dan menyemarakkan ekosistem sukan negara serta menyumbang kepada industri sukan.

ISN juga bertanggungjawab dalam menyelaras dan melaksanakan pembangunan sains dan perubatan sukan terutamanya mengenal pasti bakat atlet di peringkat kanak-kanak menerusi sistem persekolahan kebangsaan di bawah seliaan Kementerian Pelajaran (KPM).

Dalam hubungan ini, ISN akan terus menyediakan bantuan dan kepakaran kepada MSN, KPM dan badan-badan berkepentingan yang lain samada dalam sektor awam mahupun swasta.

Olympic draw on 7 July

The draw for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012 Asian qualifiers third round will be held on July 7 at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur.

Twelve teams have qualified for the third round where they will be divided into three groups of four teams each with the group toppers qualifying directly to next year’s Olympics.

The group runners-up will play another round of play-off matches before the winner qualifies to play against a team from the African continent for a place in the Olympics.

The draw will be streamed live on AFC's official website starting from 1500hrs Kuala Lumpur time (GMT +8).

Line-up: (in alphabetical order)
Australia, Bahrain, Iraq, Japan, Korea Republic, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE and Uzbekistan.

Results of second qualifying round (Aggregate)

Australia vs Yemen (7-1)
Bahrain vs. Palestine (2-2) – Bahrain qualified on away goals rule
Iraq vs. Iran (2-1)
Japan vs. Kuwait (4-3)
Korea Rep. vs. Jordan (4-2)
Malaysia vs. Lebanon (2-1)
Oman vs. China (1-1) After Extra time (3-1)
Qatar vs. India (4-1)
Saudi Arabia vs. Vietnam (6-1)
Syria vs. Turkmenistan (6-2)
UAE vs. DPR Korea (2-1)
Uzbekistan vs. Hong Kong (3-0)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Malaysia undecided

A poor sixth placing in the seven-nation Asian-Australasian-African Championships, which ended on Saturday, has left Malaysia undecided if they want to bid to host the 2014 FIP Polo World Cup Finals.

Royal Malaysian Polo Association (RMPA) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said Malaysia’s poor showing is one of the factors that will be considered before making the bid for the Finals.

Malaysia have never qualified for the World Cup and the Asian-Australasian-African meet, which also served as the Zone D Qualifier for this year’s Finals in San Luis, Argentina from Oct 11-25, was Malaysia’s best hope. The World Cup hosts automatically qualify for the Finals.

“There are several other factors that need to be considered before we decide if want to bid. I have been told that several other countries like India, Pakistan and Canada are also bidding for the 2014 Finals,” said Tengku Abdullah, who is also the Tengku Mahkota of Pahang.

In the same breath, Tengku Abdullah said Malaysia’s poor show in the Z D Qualifier is another factor that has to be given serious consideration for the bid.

“We need to have a strong team to challenge the best. The Zone D qualifier drew a strong field. It was a good test for us. The standard of polo seen here was very high as we had some world class teams.

“We need to raise our polo to a higher level. Some changes are needed to take the game to new heights. It was a good learning experience for the team. They showed tremendous fighting spirit but that alone cannot win matches.

“The preparations have got to start now if we are going to bid. Malaysia needs to have strong team for the Finals. We will decide on what to do with the present team after doing a post-mortem. Hopefully, this Asian-Australasian-African championship will create a new pool of polo talent.”

Edham Shaharuddin, 36, has already voiced his intentions to quit the national team. This was his last international tournament for Malaysia.

Federation of International Polo (FIP) President Eduardo Huergo gave Malaysia full marks for their excellent organisation, hospitality and facilities which he described as “top class” that are good enough to host the World Cup Finals.

"I am happy with what I saw. Malaysia may not have done on the field but they certainly did an excellent job in hosting a world class polo tournament. None of the teams had any complaints and this is a plus point.”

Umpires J.J.Diaz Alberai, Nicolas Scortichini and Gonzalo Bunge, all from Argentina, were also given top marks for their excellent job as match officials.

For the record, India became the first holders of the new Malaysia Cup trophy and in the process created polo history on Malaysian soil. It was India’s first ever international polo title outside their motherland. In the final, India beat Indian sub-continent rivals Pakistan 12-9.

India and Pakistan, as champions and runners-up will be joined by Australia, who finished third after beating South Africa 12-9 in the playoff, will play in the World Cup Finals.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

India creates history

Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah handing the Malaysia Cup to
India team captain Colonel Tarun Sirohi accompanied by Dato’ Sri Mohd.Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia.
On the right Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and on the left Eduardo Huergo, President of International Polo.

India created polo history on Malaysian soil to land their first ever international polo title outside their motherland  with  a 12-9 win over Pakistan in the Asian-Australasian-African Championships final at the Royal Selangor Polo Club.

In the process, India also became the first country to lift the new Malaysia Cup, a sterling silver cup that is engraved with a bunga raya (hibiscus, Malaysia’s national flower) motif - commissioned by the Royal Malaysian Polo Association (RMPA).
 The idea of a Malaysia Cup that would serve as an Asia-Pacific Championship was mooted by RMPA president HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who is also the Crown Prince of Pahang.
There was more joy for India when Samir Suhag (Handicap 5) was voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP).  Samir was again in top form in the final, scoring seven goals to take his personal tally to 23 goals in the tournament.
India’s other goals came through Simran Shergill (Handicap 4) who scored a hattrick and one each by Vishal Chauhan (2) and Tarun Sirohi (3).
Pakistan’s newcomer Temur Nadeem (2) was his team’s top scorer with five goals followed by Ahmed Tiwana (3) with two.
The win also meant India maintained their polo supremacy over their rivals from the Indian sub-continent, having beaten Pakistan 9-6 in the World Cup Qualifier in Jaipur in 2000 to become champions and 13 ½ - 11 in the 2007 Qualifier in New Zealand.
Both teams took the field with an unbeaten record. Pakistan, however, started the match with a two goal advantage due to their 12 goal team against India’s 14 goal team. It turned out to be a thrilling final with some of the finest polo seen here.
Things did look bad for India when Pakistan scored twice in the early minutes of the first chukka through Temur and Ahmed to take a 4-0 lead before India pulled one back through Samir Suhag.  It was the goal India needed to get charged and they did it in style in the second chukka to draw level at 4-4.
India took off from there as they grew in confidence while Pakistan wilted.  The champions moved confidently ahead to 6-4 in the third chukka and 10-7 by the fifth chukka.  Pakistan staged a brief fightback at this stage and narrowed the gap to 10-9.
But that was all that Pakistan could do against the Indian who were not ready to give go back as second best. The final whistle left Pakistan players in tears while India celebrated.
  “This win is history for us. We came here with a mission and we did it in style. As I said this is the best polo team from India in 20 years. This team has a bright future. Indian polo has come of age and we will be heading to Argentina (for FIP Polo World Cup Finals) in October with confidence,” said India team manager Vikram Singh Rathore
“India had never won an international polo tournament.  We look towards this win as our stepping stone for better things to come in future international tournaments. Winning here against a world class line-up means Indian polo has a bright future.”
 Pakistan manager Abdul Qadir Mamdot said: “We had the chances but failed to make it count. India deserves to win. They were the better side.”


Friday, June 24, 2011

South Africa confident

South Africa are confident that they will beat Australia in the playoff for the 3 rd/4 placing in the Asian-Australasian-African Polo Championships at the Royal Selangor Grounds today which will earn them the ticket to this year’s FIP World Cup Finals in Argentina in October.

India and Pakistan have already confirmed their place in the World Cup Finals (Oct 11-25)in San Luis by virtue of reaching the Asian-Australasian-African Championships final which will be played at the same venue on Saturday. The seven-nation championships also serve as the Zone D Qualifier for the World Cup Finals.

“We are confident the team is good enough to play in the Finals in Argentina. South Africa played some really good polo at times but their inexperience let them down at the crucial stage during the tournament,” said South Africa coach Clive Peddle.

Peddle, was obviously referring to South Africa’s 9-5 defeat to India in the semi-finals played at the Royal Pahang Polo Grounds in Pekan, Pahang on Tuesday.

“The team need to capitalise on their chances if they are going to win tomorrow and I am confident South Africa will and qualify for the World Cup Finals. But we cannot afford to miss scoring chances. Our match analysis showed we muffed 21 scoring opportunities. We have spoken about it at length and the players are aware of their shortcomings.

“They will make good in the playoff. A lot is at stake in this match...any sporting encounter between South Africa and Australia is always going to be closely contested. We look forward to a good match of polo”

Meanwhile, Australia, who came as pre-tournament favourites, are still reeling from their 8 ½ - 8 defeat to Pakistan. The Australians were leading by three goals but crumbled in the last two chukkas. However, that takes a back seat for now as Australia aim to clear the final hurdle to qualify for the World Cup Finals.

Australia coach Glen Gilmore, however, is still searching for answers to his top player Matt Grimes’ “sudden collapse” in the last two chukkas after scoring three goals.

“He (Grimes) broke down all of a sudden and this allowed Pakistan to come-back into the picture. I have not lost track of qualifying for the (World Cup) Finals. It will be a tough match and will have to be at our best,” said Gilmore.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

After Moscow, there was Kuwait

As the national Olympic team prepares to take on Lebanon in the first leg second round Olympic qualifiers in Kuala Lumpur Thursday, many are hoping that the players will play their hearts out and not only qualify to the next round but also to London for the 2012 summer games.

Many are hoping for a repeat of the Moscow adventure, when the national team qualified for the 1980 games in the Russian capital. The team did not participate in the games because of the American-led boycott of the games. Malaysia also qualified and participated in the 1972 games in Munich.
The two qualification and the fact that the team seem to be doing well has given hope to soccer fans to hope for a repeat of the Moscow adventure. Thet would make the picture perfect - the senior team doing well and the junior doing well also.
We wish Ong Kim Swee and his lads all the best.

But, somehow the 1980 adventure did not seem to have a good ending. They qualified but boycotted. Later on the team with some additional stars took part in the World Cup qualifiers and experienced what was known as the Kuwait debacle in 1981.

The national team, led by skipper Soh Chin Aun was just a step away from the World Cup and they were the favourites in 1981 Asian Qualifying finals.

The actual reason for the dismal performance is still not clear. Some blame the weather, others the presence of "star" players and some other reasons. What ever it is, it surely was a major disaster for the soccer team.

Maybe we should learn from that debacle. If we are on the top, learn to be humble and continue to improve and have the passion for the game.

In Kuwait, Malaysia lost 2-1 to South Korea, 4-0 to Kuwait and drew 2-2 with Thailand. Kuwait finished top of the table with six points from three games to qualify.

In a recent interview with the local media, Chin Aun recalled the pain of not qualifying very clearly and remembered the headlines of the day after the miserable outing.

"Oh you mean ‘The Kuwait Debacle. It was a big miss indeed. The team to Kuwait was a good fact one of the best assembled,"said Chin Aun. The members of the team include defender Santokh Singh and strikers James Wong, Hassan Sani and Mokhtar Dahari.

A year earlier, Malaysia had beaten the dominant Koreans 1-0 through a James Wong strike that saw them qualify for the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

It's good to have a dream and the have an adventure. But, remember "Kuwait" may come again after "Moscow", if we are not careful.

The Munich 1972 team:
Bahwandi Hiralal, Osman Abdullah, Salleh Ibrahim, Mohamed Bakar, Zawawi Yusuf, Harun Jusoh, Shaharuddin Abdullah, V. Krishnasamy, Ali Bakar, Rahim Abdullah, Wong Kam Fook, Looi Loon Teik, Khoo Luan Khen, Lim Fung Kee, Soh Chin Aun, Wong Chun Wah, Namat Abdullah, Hamzah Hussein, Dell Akhbar, Santokg Singh, Chow Chee Keong, M. Chandran.

The results: First Round (Group A) - Malaysia 0 West Germany 3; Malaysia 3 USA 0; Malaysia 0 Morocco 6. (Malaysia in 10th place overall).

India dethrones defending champions

India and Pakistan set themselves up a dream Indian sub-continent final in the Asian-Australasian-African Polo Championships after beating their respective semi-final opponents at the Royal Pahang Polo Grounds here yesterday.

India dethroned defending champions South Africa with an impressive 9-5 win while Pakistan staged a remarkable fight back in the last two chukkas and rode on their 1 ½ goal advantage to beat pre-tournament favourites Australia 8 ½ - 8.

The final on Saturday and the third and fourth place playoff on Friday will be held at the Royal Selangor Polo Club in Kuala Lumpur.

India and Pakistan assured themselves a place in this year’s FIP Polo World Cup Finals in San Luis, Argentina from Oct 11-25. They will be joined by in the Finals by the winners of the third and fourth placing match this Friday.

India had an ace in 36-year-old Samir Suhag (Handicap 4), who fell off his twice at the same spot in the third and final chukka, fired five goals and take his personal tally to 16 goals in three matches. Samir scored four goals in the third and fourth chukka and signed it off in the final chukka.

A jubilant India team manager Vikram Rathore said: “This is the best polo team India has assembled in over 20 years. We have remained unbeaten here and we are improving with every match.

“It was a good win over South Africa. We trained together for four months. India have achieved the first target...that was to make the semi-finals. Now our next target is to win the title.”

It was a vain effort for South Africa’s Lance Watson who scored all the five goals for his team but coach Clive Peddle has not given up hope on his team.

“We still have the third and fourth place to play for and there is still one more slot for the World Cup Finals,” said Peddle.

The seven-team Asian-Australasian-African Championships also served as the Zone D Qualifier for the World Cup.

Three goals by Sami Ullah, two by Temur Nedeenand one each by Ahmed Tiwana and Saqib Khakwani completed Pakistan’s scoring. Australia’s scorers were Matt Grimes (3 goals), Alec White and Ed Goold (2 each) and Zac Hagedoorn (one).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Great friends

It has been 29 years since I began my involvement in sports as a journalist. I often wonder how I went through all those years in a field that do not seem to concerned about chasing the rest of the world. People have asked me why I stuck to this field for so long. Good question.

I too have asked myself the same question: Why did I choose to remain as a sports journalist, writing about a field has many strange people in it?  Why would anyone one want to write or be associated with a field that has more people in it who are there for themselves?

I believe the answer is because there were some good people, who became good friends and that made me continue in a field that is headed no where - unless the powers that be suddenly realizes this and make some astounding decisions, like making sure that the right people, people who are passionate for sports run associations and agencies.

As I look back I realize the importance of having good friends, friends who were there to make the difference for you. I really appreciate these friends, some of whom have passed on.

Many names come to mind. I remember my friend Karim Yahya for one, a friend who was always ready to take a stand and stand with you. On many occasion this man had encouraged me on many matters. He used to be in charge of the NSC gymnasium at the Raja Muda Stadium.

Another good friend was the late Fadzil Othman, a man who was passionate about sports and was involved in cycling, lawn tennis and later on at the OCM. This guy does thing quietly and does not want any credit for it - something that we hardly can find in sports these days.

I remember of an incident where I had a little problem at work place and he came to know of it. The matter was solved and later I found out that these good friend of mine had spoken to the my big boss and had the matter settled.

Daud Kassim was another great friend. He was always willing to help and always made sure the facts he gave were accurate. He would go out of way, including getting confirmations from abroad, just to make sure we (journalists) write accurate reports.

He was passionate about cycling and was very disappointed to see the way the sport was being run. Daud was a man who would never desert his friends, always there if you needed him.

Datuk Mazlan Ahmad has been good friend since I met him the first week he reported for duty at NSC after completing his studies in the US. Mazlan was truthful and straight forward and journalists like dealing with him because you can feel the sincerity in him.

Datuk Mazlan was not interested in creating a name for himself or getting into anybody's good books. He wanted to develop sports. To some extend during his tenure as DG of NSC, a lot of development took place. Till today Datuk Mazlan is a great friend and I appreciate his friendship.

Datuk Seri Paul Mony Samuel has been a friend since I met him when he came to FAM as an administrative assistant when Datuk Paul Murugasu was Honorary Secretary. He showed the discipline and seriousness which impressed many.

Like all my good friends, Datuk Paul has always been a great blessing for me. When I left the newspaper, Datuk Paul was among the friends who gave encouragement.

I appreciate friends like Windsor John Paul, who is an excellent football administrator and a great friend.

Friends like Dato Sieh Kuo Chi also gave hope to sports. He has always been passionate about sports and have a good technical knowledge about sports that would definitely be an asset to sports development.

There were others along the way. They were good sports people, who became good friends.

But, sports don't seem to be going anywhere. There are still to many people in sports who are in here for themselves, thus destroying all hopes of seeing changes taking place.

Sports still elect leaders who have no time for them. Leaders who needed sports for their own agenda.

Will anything change? The only hope is to hope for some strong personalities who would train hard and become champions, people like Nicol Ann David.


Pakistan, India the favourites

Based on current form, great polo rivals Pakistan and India, are the early favourites to reach the final in this year’s Asian-Australasian-African Polo Championships when they take on Australia and South Africa respectively in the semi-finals at the Royal Pahang Polo grounds today.

Even the absence of their ace Hissam Ali Hyder, a five goaler, who is currently playing professional polo in England, has not dampened Pakistan’s confidence. Hissam, better known as “Namu” in the polo world, has not been released by his club in England as he is needed for the semi-finals in the Queen’s Cup competition.

“With or without Hissam we are confident of reaching the final and qualify for the (FIP Polo World Cup) Finals,” said team manager Abdul Qadir Mamdot.

“We are in great form. Pakistan set a national scoring record with 28 goals in two matches. We are also the top scorers here and it has given us the confidence. Insyallah (God willing) we can maintain our current form.

“The absence of Hissam will not affect our game as we have Sami Ullah (Handicap 4) who has been in great form in our matches against Nigeria and Pakistan. Australia is a good side but we have a good strong attacking side to take them on.

“Hissam’s club in England could release him as his team is in the semi-finals. Hissam is a great player and has been recommended to increase his Handicap to 6. He is a great player. He is our No 1...very fast and very accurate. His presence would have made an effect on the team. ”

So far Pakistan have played in only one World Cup Finals and this was in Paris in 2003 but failed to make the second round.

Pakistan topped the table with 28 goals for and 17 against for a massive plus 11 goals after a 15 ½ - 7 and 12 ½ wins over Nigeria and South Africa respectively while India were second with a 17.5 and 10 against with a 7.5 plus tally derived from 5 ½ - 5 and 12-5 wins over Australia and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, India manager Vikram Rathore said the arrival of His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur is a “morale booster” to the team, especially in the semi-finals match against South Africa.

“We go into the match, having played a ‘high-pressure’ match against Australia. This has put us in the right frame of mind to face South Africa for a place in the final,” said Vikram, who is counting on hot-shot Samir Suhag, who scored seven goals against Malaysia and four against Australia.

“Hopefully, it will be an India-Pakistan final. We have great rivalry in polo. It will be good for Asian polo.”

India and South Africa go into the match on equal footing, with a win each in the two test matches they played earlier this year. India won 9-6 at home but lost 8-5 away.

South Africa coach Clive Peddle said: “It will be interesting semi-finals. It will be different when you play at this stage of the tournament.

Our top priority is to qualify for the finals as we won the last Qualifier in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Malaysia ended their campaign with a sixth placing in the seven-team championships which also counted as the Zone D Qualifier for this year’s FIP Polo World Cup Finals in Argentina from Oct 11-25.

In yesterday’s round robin playoffs played over two chukkas, Malaysia had mixed fortunes, beating Nigeria 5 1/2 – 5 in the first match but lost 3 – 2 ½ to New Zealand.

Malaysia finished sixth, Nigeria, seventh while New Zealand took fifth place after a 3-3 draw against Nigeria.

The champions, the runners-up and the third place winner will qualify for the World Cup Finals.

Jack Warner resigns

Jack A. Warner has informed FIFA about his resignation from his posts in international football.

FIFA regrets the turn of events that have led to Mr Warner’s decision.

His resignation has been accepted by world football’s governing body, and his contribution to international football and to Caribbean football in particular and the CONCACAF confederation are appreciated and acknowledged.

Mr Warner is leaving FIFA by his own volition after nearly 30 years of service, having chosen to focus on his important work on behalf of the people and government of Trinidad & Tobago as a Cabinet Minister and as the Chairman of the United National Congress, the major party in his country’s coalition government. - FIFA.
The FIFA Executive Committee, the FIFA President and the FIFA management thank Mr Warner for his services to Caribbean, CONCACAF and international football over his many years devoted to football at both regional and international level, and wish him well for the future.

As a consequence of Mr Warner’s self-determined resignation, all Ethics Committee procedures against him have been closed and the presumption of innocence is maintained.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Team spirit and discipline

Nigeria’s Bello Buba (center) is sandwiched by two Pakistani players. Pakistan won 15 ½ - 7.
National polo coach Carlos Pando attributed Malaysia’s 9-8 win over New Zealand in their opening Asia-Australasian-African Polo Championships to discipline and tremendous fighting spirit.

And now, Pando wants the team to do the same and ride on the win against the Kiwis when they face India on Friday. India beat pre-tournament frontrunners Australia 5 ½ - 5 in their first match.

“It was a great game and great win for Malaysia. The players played to order.They were disciplined and showed tremendous team spirit till the end of the game. Their fighting spirit was another hallmark of Malaysia,” said Pando.

It was the sort of start Malaysia were looking for in the seven-team tournament which also counts as the Zone D Qualifier to this year’s FIP Polo World Cup Finals in San Luis, Argentina from Oct 11-25. The top three teams from this tournament will qualify for the Finals.

“Our hard work and training paid off. We did not fare well in recent tournaments but it was part of our preparations for this World Cup Qualifier. It was a good start to the championships and let us ride on the win over New Zealand.

“We have more obstacles to clear and we have to look forward to the coming matches with confidence. The team morale is high and the players enjoyed the match against New Zealand.”

Pando,who has been with the team since January, did not wish to single out any player for Malaysia’s win but hailed Huzaini Yunos (Handicap 4) for his cool in taking penalties, missing only one out of seven that were awarded to the team and Edham Shaharuddin (Handicap 4) for his inspirational display before his hometown supporters.

“Huzaini showed his class in penalties. It helped the team. Edham had an outstanding game and fought from beginning to end, which inspired the team,” added Pando.

Pando, however, warned the Malaysians to watch out India, who showed great character to stop the Australians.

“We need to keep a tight rein on India’s No 3 (Samir Suhag) who scored four goals against Australia. He is a smart and solid player, who makes the team. He is certainly dangerous.”

The Indian ace (Handicap 5), aged 36, is the most experienced player, having represented India four times at the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Pakistan, playing with a total handicap of 12 against Nigeria’s 14, and playing with a 1 ½ goal advantage, defeated the African nation . It was Nigeria’s second defeat in as many matches, having lost to South Africa 13-5 in their first match.

Pakistan’s Sami Ullah, a fulltime professional, led the rout with 10 goals, scoring three each in the in the second, third and fifth chukkas and one in the fourth. Temur Nadeen contributed two while Ahmad Tiwada and Saqib Khakwani scored one each.

Nigeria replied through Bello Buba (3 goals) Mohammed Babangida (2) and Ibrahim Mohammed one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Malaysia slay Kiwi giants

Malaysia pushed themselves to the limit to snatch a narrow 9-8 win over much touted New Zealand in their opening match for a flying start to their campaign in the Asian-Australasian-African Polo Championships at the Royal Pahang Polo grounds in Pekan yesterday.

Royal Malaysian Polo Association president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who left the royal box to stand among the Malaysian supporters on the field despite the drizzle, jumped for joy when the final whistle was blown.

“This is a very sweet victory for Malaysia. We have never played any of these teams in such a tournament before. So this win means a lot,” said Tengku Abdullah, who hugged the players and team officials after the win.

“We showed tremendous fighting spirit. The players played their guts out and never gave up even when the chips were down.I hope the players can keep up the momentum for our next match which is against India.

“I am very proud of the Malaysian players. I am also proud of the Malaysian supporters who turned out in full force to lend support. This is the true spirit if Malaysia.”

The victory over New Zealand is all the sweeter for the Malaysians as the Asian-Australasian-Africa Championships, also serves as the Zone D Qualifier for this year’s FIP Polo World Cup Finals in San Luis, Argentina, from Oct 11-25.

Huziani Yunos (Handicap 4) was the toast of Malaysia with five goals – scoring a goal each in the first three chukkas and ended it with a brace in the fourth chukka. Local boy Edham Shahruddin (4) scored two while Tengku Ahmad Shazril and skipper Shaikh Reismann scored one each.

New Zealand’s Andrew Parrott (5) also scored five goal for his team while Kit Brooks scored two and Gary Vickers one.

The top three teams here will qualify for the Finals. Malaysia have set a high target to winning the title or at least finish in the top three and make their first ever World Cup Finals.

New Zealand finished runners-up at the last Qualifier held in New Zealand and made it to their first ever World Finals held in Mexico.

The match was tied at 6-6 after the third Chukka after Malaysia surrendered a 6-4 lead.

“I was very nervous when we allowed New Zealand made it 6-6 and even led 8-6. But it also brought out the best from our players. This is the sort of fighting spirit from the players that makes me proud. It is fantastic start to the tournament,” added Tengku Abdullah.

Earlier, India, who had ½ goal advantage, beat Australia 5 ½ goals to 5 in another thriller with Samir Suhag stealing the show with four goals. Vishal Chauhan scored the other. Australian scorers were Zac Hagedorn and Matt Grimes (2 each) and Alec White one.

Monday, June 13, 2011

South African dream

Defending Asian-Australasian-African champions South Africa suffered a setback before coming to Malaysia but they hell bent on retaining the title and book their place for only the second time in the FIP Polo World Cup Finals.

The South Africans had to leave behind young Sbu Duma, their number one player behind when he injured his knee ligaments while playing in a friendly football match six weeks ago. He has been replaced by Johan Du Preez.

The only player with World Cup experience is Terence Spilsbury (Handicap 4), who played in the last World Cup Finals in Mexico.

South Africa, who went to Mexico as the Zone champions in the last Qualifier held in New Zealand, however, failed to make the second round in their World Cup debut.

The others in the team are skipper Campbell Macnab (3), Duncan Watson (4), Lance Watson (4) and Shaun Brokensha (3). Duncan is the son of South Africa’s ace polo international Russell Watson, with 90 caps.

Team manager Clive Peddle said Duma’s absence has made a difference to the team but Du Preez is an able replacement to carry the team’s challenge when the tournament gets underway at the Royal Pahang Polo Ground (RPPC) in Pekan, Pahang.

After the opening ceremony, South Africa will take on Nigeria on RPPC Field 1 at 4pm – to renew their continental rivalry.

“We have come with a relatively young and inexperienced team for this tournament.But it is a good all round team and we want to make it to Argentina,” said Peddle.

“We had hoped that Duma would recover in time but he did not. It is sad that he got injured playing football and not polo. But that’s sports...sometimes the unexpected happen.

“It is not going to be easy but we are ready to face the challenge. All the teams have come well prepared. We played a warm-up match against Nigeria today and they have some good players. Of course both teams did not show their true capabilities today.”

“Since South Africa and Nigeria will play in the opening match in the Qualifier, we will start on equal footing. Still, we rate our chances as good...but so do Nigeria. I am looking for a winning start to the tournament as we want to be in Argentina (for the Finals).”

Nigeria coach Dawule Baba, said: “Nigeria is one of the most established polo playing nations in Africa but we have never made it to the World Cup Finals. We hope to change all that in Malaysia.”

The Nigerian team is made up of Abdulmalik Badamasi (Handicap 1), Mohammed Dawule (1), Hamisu Buba (4), Ibrahim Muhammed (4), Mohammed Babangida (4) and Bello Buba (5).

The Asian-Australasian-African Championships will also double up the Zone D Qualifier with the top three teams qualifying for this year’s World Cup Finals which will be played in San Luis, Argentina from Oct 11-25.

The teams playing in the Qualifier are South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Nigeria.

The preliminary round and semi-finals will be played at RPPC grounds until June 21. The the third and fourth placing match and the final will be played at the Royal Selangor Polo Club in Kuala Lumpur on June 24and June 25 respectively.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Firhad's fun way

The name Firhad may not ring a bell in the polo fraternity as this is his first brush with the sport. However, fitness coach Raja Mohammad Firhad Raja Azidin, is playing a key role for the Malaysian team as it vies for a historic place in the 2011 FIP Polo World Cup Finals in Argentina in October.

Handpicked by HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, president of the Royal Malaysian Polo Association (RMPA), the 36-year-old Johor Bahru-born Firhad has raised Malaysia’s hopes as the team hit the last lap of preparations for the Asian-Australasian-African Championships, which get underway at the Royal Pahang Polo Club grounds on Monday.

The championships also double up as the Zone D Qualifier for this year’s FIP Polo World Cup Finals in San Luis, Argentina from Oct 11-25. The top three tops in the Asian-Australasian-African Championships will qualify for the World Cup Finals.

Firhad, lecturer with UiTM Shah Alam (Faculty of Sports Science and Recreation also helped out the Laos football team to the 2009 SEA Games in Vientiane after he was picked by the Asian Football Federation for the job. He must have done enough for Laos as they reached the first ever semi-finals before losing 3-1 to Malaysia.

Laos have requested for his help again for this year’s SEA Games in Indonesia in December. However, Firhad is not likely to take up the offer as he wants to pursue his Phd in sports science strength and conditioning) by the end of this year in United Kingdom or Australia.

Right now Firhad is totally focused in helping out Malaysia in the polo championships. And in Tengku Mahkota’s own words “Firhad has done a world of good in terms of fitness” since he joined the team last month during the inaugural Terengganu Open Polo Championships.

The seven-nation Qualifier will see Malaysia, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, India, Pakistan and Nigeria battling for a top three finish which will win them tickets to this year’s FIP Polo World Cup Finals to be played in San Luis, Argentina from Oct 11-25.

Malaysia have never played in the Finals but Tengku Abdullah, who is also the Tengku Mahkota (Crown Prince) of Pahang, believes this is Malaysia’s best chance to create history. The hosts have assembled a strong team for the Qualifier.

The team is made up of Captain Shaik Reissmann (Handicap 3), Huzaini Yunos (4), Amran Selamat (2), Muhammad Edham Shaharuddin (4), Saladin Mazlan (3) and Tengku Ahmad Shazril (3).

“The focus at this competition phase is to fine tune specific polo skills and maintaining physical and mental readiness for match play. The training program is designed to involve competition and matches, specific functional motor abilities training with injury prevention exercise and active recovery session in training schedule,” said Firhad.

“The players have been adapting and responding well. The commitment given by all the players is overwhelming. They are very dedicated to training. Their never give up attitude has motivated me to work more with them.

“In the training, we also include psychological intervention through mental rehearsals plus proper nutrition guidelines. Another important factor is team ...we eat together, train together relax together to get the bonding. In short, the team is one happy ‘family’ that is raring to go.

"The Argentine head coach (Carlos Pando) has done tremendously well, enhancing the players technical and tactical skills which is very important in this phase of training. In addition, we have great backroom staffs that help us in preparing the players".

“Bonding at this stage is very vital. Not only the players but also every single person involved with this team. We are working closely together to ensure our Malaysian team do well in this tournament.

"At the same time we hope they (the players) can peak physically and mentally by the time the tournament gets underway. Insyallah (Godwilling) they will make it to the World Cup Finals, added Firhad.

Malaysia, who drawn in Zone A, kick-start their campaign with a match against New Zealand on Tuesday. Their second match is against India on Friday.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tengku Mahkota confident

The strong presence of some of the best polo-playing nations in the Asian-Australasian-African Championships which are also the Zone D playoffs for the 2011 FIP Polo World Cup has not diminished Malaysia’s hopes and “humble target” in any way.

Instead, Malaysia are ready to mount a serious challenge for the title despite the presence of teams like South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and Nigeria – to battle for a top three finish which will earn them a ticket to this year’s FIP World Cup Finals in San Luis, Argentina from Oct 11-25.

HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the president of the Royal Malaysian Polo Association (RMPA), was briefed on the team’s progress by chief coach Carlos Pandoi and team manager Ahmad Jamili Rashid on Thursday, soon after his return from overseas.

“We have a very strong field in this Qualifier. Some of the best polo playing countries will be challenging for honours...teams like South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India or Pakistan and even Nigeria have great polo traditions.

“But we have our own mission...that is to win the title or at least finish in the top three to qualify for the World Cup Finals. This is our humble target. As hosts we have home-ground advantage and this is a plus factor that we need to tilt in our favour,” said Tengku Abdullah, who is also the Crown Prince of Pahang.

Tengku Abdullah has taken a personal interest in the Zone D Qualifier as Malaysia hope to create polo history and qualify for their first ever World Cup Finals. This was seen when hours after arriving in Pekan, Tengku Abdullah was at the dry-run of the opening ceremony despite the rain.

“I have been told the team is raring to go. The team has shown vast improvement in all departments. The trainer and physiotherapist, who have been with the team since the Terengganu Open Championships, have added weight.

“The fitness level of the players has gone up. Polo is a very demanding game and you have to be really fit to face the challenges. I am confident the team will do well. Malaysia will be there fighting for top honours.

“If we don’t win the title but finish in the top three and qualify (for the World Cup Finals) it will be history,” said Tengku Abdullah, adding that Malaysia hope to get a good group when the draw for the Horse Groups is done tomorrow.

He later met the players and team officials.

The Malaysian team is captained by Shaik Reismann (Handicap 3), Huzaini Yunos (4), Amran Selamat (2), Muhammad Edham Shaharuddin (4), Saladin Mazlan (3) and Tengku Ahmad Shazril (3).

Malaysia, drawn in Zone A, will open their campaign with a match against New Zealand on Tuesday and India on Friday, both of whom are drawn in Zone B.

South Africa, Pakistan and Nigeria are drawn in Zone C.

The preliminary matches and the semi-finals will be played at the Royal Pahang Polo Club in Pekan while the third and fourth placing match and the final will be at the Royal Selangor Polo Club on June 24 and June 25 respectively.

Malaysia will play Nigeria in a 4 chukkas friendly match at the Royal Pahang Polo Club (Field 2) Saturday 4pm. Admission to the championships is free.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Aru, Rajagobal honored

The late football legend R. Arumugam and national coach K. Rajagopal were awarded the Panglima Jasa Negara (PJN), which carries the title Datuk, in conjunction with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s birthday last week..
The duo were among 67 recipients of the awards from Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin at Balairong Seri, Istana Negara.
The late Aru, popularly known as the “Spiderman”, is still fondly remembered for his heroics between the posts for Selangor and the national squad even after his passing away 23 years ago.
His greatest achievement was helping the national football team bag the bronze medal at the 1974 Asian Games in Teheran. He was also a member of the Malaysian team that qualified for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which Malaysia boycotted.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin presenting national coach K. Rajagopal with the Datukship award at Istana Negara.

The flamboyant Arumugam, with his exceptionally long arms and brilliant “cat-like reflex saves” earned nearly 200 caps before he died in a road accident in 1988 at the age of 35.
Datuk Soh Chin Aun, who played alongside the late Aru and Rajagopal in the early 70s beginning with PKNS, was pleased to learn that his colleagues’ sacrifices for the nation have been recognised.
“The late Aru needs no introduction. He was the main man behind me and (Datuk) Santokh (Singh) in defence when we represented the country in so many tournaments.
“Rajagopal has excelled in coaching too and I am proud of both of them,” he said.
Santokh, meanwhile, felt that the posthumous award for the late Aru was “long overdue”.
“It is good that at least they have recognised whatever services he had contributed to the state and nation. It is better late than never,” said Santokh.
Former national midfield dynamo Wong Choon Wah said “I have many fond memories of the late Aru, who was a ‘joker’.
“He may have left us a long time ago but we are still talking about his antics on and off the field. He is a happy-go-lucky man. For me he was a great goalkeeper.”
Kassim Abdullah (formerly Kasi Visvanathan) said: “Aru and I were room-mates when we played in the Deepavali Cup against Singapore back in the 70s. He was a jovial person and there was not a single day without laughter with him around. I am glad he has been recognised after all these time.”
The FA of Malaysia (FAM) exco member Datuk S. Sivasundaram and a close friend of the late Aru, said that the player was truly role model and an inspiration to all Malaysians.
He said Aru did more than to just play the game. In 1983, Aru formed his own club – Starbrite SC in Port Klang – as part of his personal contribution to the youngsters in his neighbourhood.
Aru made his debut for the FA of Selangor (FAS) when he was 18 years old in the Burnley Cup Youth Tour­na­ment in 1971. He represented Selangor in the Malaysia Cup tournament from 1972 to 1988, helping them win the Malaysia Cup eight times.
During his time with the national team, Aru helped Malaysia win the Merdeka Tournament in 1973, 1974, 1976 and 1979. He also represented Malaysia in seven SEA Games since 1973.
Rajagopal, meanwhile, has been making heads turn with his exploits as the national football coach, especially since leading the senior team to victory in the Suzuki Cup Asean Football Federation (AFF) championship last December.
He started out coaching the national Under-23 side, leading them to the SEA Games gold medal in Laos after a lapse of 20 years in 2009.
Last year, Rajagopal made everyone sit up and take notice of his potential as a coach in the Asian Games Under-23 competition in Guangzhou. That was when Malaysia qualified for the second round for the first time in 32 years.
Then came his crowning moment – leading Malaysia to victory in the Suzuki Cup after 14 years.
Rajagopal said he was deeply honoured to be awarded the Datukship by the King.
“I’m proud to be a Malaysian. I want to thank the King, Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak), the president of the FA of Malaysia (Sultan Ahmad Shah) and to all Malaysians,” said Rajagopal yesterday.
“I’m truly amazed by the support given to me by the fans, who came forward to support Malaysian football.”
Former long distance ace and multiple SEA Games gold medallist M. Ramachandran and FIFA referee Sub­khid­din Mohd Salleh received the Kesatria Mangku Negara (KMN).