Monday, June 30, 2008

Aku on air bersama Bakar

Aku membuat penampilan kelimaku dalam program bual bicara Nasi Lemak Kopi O di TV9 pagi tadi. Disebabkan aku tidak mempunyai baju Sepanyol mahupun Jerman, tanganku menyambar apa saja yang berwarna merah, biru dan putih - warna Perancis dan juga Johor!

Sambil Mak dan Abah serta Intan dan anak-anak membawa Syahidah mendaftar di UPM, aku menghala ke Sri Pentas. Penerbit Nurul RZ sudah awal-awal memberitahu aku bahawa aku dan hos Yatt akan on air bersama Abu Bakar Atan, senior aku di Berita Harian dulu yang kini bergelar editor sukan TV3.

Aku dijadual muncul di kaca TV jam 9.0 pagi. Sebelum muka aku di"touch-up", aku berbual dengan exco Kerajaan Tempatan, Pelancongan dan Kebudayaan Negeri Kelantan, Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan. Dia dijemput oleh Wan Sab untuk menjelaskan polisi kerajaan negeri yang antara lain melarang wanita Islam di negeri Cik Siti Wan Kembang menggunakan gincu dan kasut tumit tinggi.

Aku sedar dia masih aktif dalam Persatuan Bola Sepak Melayu dan kami banyak bersembang bola. Aku memberitahu ADUN Bunut Payong ini bahawa kali terakhir aku membuat liputan pasukan bola sepak Kelantan ketika ia diterajui oleh Mahadi Yusoff. Aku masih ingat Alex Freeman, dengan kaki kidalnya, menjadi tarikan di Stadium Muhammad ke-IV di Kota Bharu. Aku juga masih ingat berjalan kaki dari hotel Perdana untuk ke stadium. Fikiranku ketika itu jauh sekali daripada gincu dan tumit tinggi.

Tiba jam 9.0 pagi, aku dipelawa floor manager Sdr Nasran yang gemar membuat aksi penguin di belakang kamera untuk mengambil tempat, seawalnya di meja kopitiam tetapi kemudian berpindah ke sofa.

Yatt awal-awal lagi sudah menyatakan sokongannya buat Sepanyol. Aku pula, sebelum kejohanan bermula, memilih sama ada Jerman atau Belanda untuk menjulang gelaran Euro kali ini.




Gambar ihsan Kak Lin (baju yang aku pakai adalah jersi Perancis pada 2000. Deschamps menjulang Piala Henri Delaunay di Rotterdam memakai jersi bercorak sama)

Namun aku memahami mengapa ramai yang mahukan Sepanyol menang. Biarlah mereka menang bagi menamatkan penantian selama 44 tahun. Bayangkan satu-satunya gelaran yang mereka menangi adalah pada 1964, ketika akupun belum lahir!

Aku teringat nasib Perancis sebelum lahirnya generasi Zidane. Pada 1958, Perancis menduduki tangga ketiga dalam Piala Dunia. Pada 1982, mereka tewas kepada Jerman Barat di Seville, dalam perlawanan yang dikenang sebagai detik Schumacher menumbangkan Battiston.
Hanya pada 1984 Platini dan rakan-rakan hulubalangnya muncul juara Euro di depan penonton sendiri.
Apabila Bakar dikejutkan dengan panggilan dari studio, waktu Vienna 3.0 pagi. Selepas Yatt bertanyakan beberapa soalan, aku sekadar bertanya:
"Bagaimana sentimen media antarabangsa, adakah mereka condong kepada Jerman atau Sepanyol?"
"Adakah saudara Bakar membuat liputan dari dalam atau luar stadium?"
Habis giliran aku, aku lihat Salamiah Hassan muncul di pintu. Dia duduk di sebelah meja aku. Aku sempat memaklumkannya lagu Gelombang dendangannya antara all-time favourite aku. Aku sempat bertanya "Apa khabar Atilia?"
Terima kasih kepada Wan Sab, Nurul, Aziz dan Yatt kerana memberi aku ruang dan peluang di TV9. Juga kepada Wak Long dan rakan-rakan yang sentiasa menceriakan suasana dan sudah tentu juga Encik Mohd Noor Ali Akbar, presiden penaja NasiLemakIbu.com. Satu beg plastik penuh dengan nasi lemak berbungkus kemas menemani ku setiap kali aku melangkah keluar dari Sri Pentas. Enak sekali!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A gift to our country

Following is a statement from the promoter of the Champions Youth Cup (CYC), Jonathan Price.

PRESS STATEMENT
June 26, 2008



In response to reports in the media, I can confirm that there have some been some discussions between our legal representatives and the AG’s Chambers but nothing that you could class as substantive in the context of the time that is left to reach a settlement based on the tournament taking place in Malaysia in August.

We advised KBS through our lawyers of a timetable to resolve this matter and that timetable is based on purely practical considerations – in particular the need to confirm arrangements with the teams, the need to make flight bookings, the need to secure hotel rooms etc.

We are at the “last hour” on that timetable and sadly it appears highly unlikely that an agreement that will allow the tournament to proceed will be reached. I wish we had more time but the timetable isn’t a negotiating tactic, it’s the simple practical reality of what it takes to run an international football tournament and the need and desire of the world’s biggest football clubs to be able to make their plans for the new season.


Jonathan Price
Chairman
Gifted Group


The Gifted Group Ltd chairman reveals little, I must say. Like I said before in an earlier entry, the tournament is poised to be shifted to Bangkok.

My heart goes out to Ayla and Hanife



I met two German ladies of Turkish ancestry in 2005. Ayla Banha showed me the way in Cologne while Hanife Safak welcomed me at the Tegel Airport in Berlin.

I'm pretty certain they were rooting for the country of their ancestry a short while ago. The 3-2 loss must have been pretty devastating for them.

Anyway in my earlier posting I predicted either Germany or Holland to be in the final.

Hanife's cousin Kenan's experience at the fan mile during the World Cup two years ago gave me an idea to pen my column HERR BLITZKRIEG.

A FRIEND dropped me a note from Berlin yesterday, telling me his out-of-this-world experience at the so-called fan mile.

Allow me to reproduce the e-mail from Kenan, a young chap of German-Turkish parentage who is contemplating on furthering his studies in Barcelona anytime soon.

"I am experiencing Berlin in a new way. I have never seen so many people from so many different countries in one place simply celebrating and having fun, especially at the Brandenburg Gate and the Potsdamer Platz.

"The so called "fan mile" provides an incredible and electric atmosphere. This is the "new centre" of Berlin and here you can watch all the games live - with hundreds of thousands of fans congregating en masse and soaking up the atmosphere.

"But also in the other parts of Berlin, the World Cup fever spreads. In addition to public viewing areas where ticketless fans can watch games, there are snack bars, cafes and facilities for beach volleyball. There is also a Fan Camp 20 minutes away, by foot, where budget travellers can get a bed for the night in a large tent and breakfast for EURO12 (RM54).

"From my observation, the most impressive fact is that the German people seem united by football, they decorate their cars with German flags to demonstrate their support for Nationalmannschaft. You know, to show pride for Germany is a very unusual sight over here. The last time such scenes were seen was in 1990 when the unified Germany lifted the World Cup in Italy. Even the Turks support the German team by waving German flags or wearing wigs with the Deutschland's colours."

Thanks, Kenan. He will no doubt be backing Jurgen Klinsmann's men to go all the way, particularly since the hosts have advanced to the last 16, although by a last-gasp goal from Oliver Neuville.

But Herr Blitzkrieg does not think Germany will travel to Berlin on July 9. Klinsi's boys have shown glimpses of their potential but if the truth be told, they are not "ugly" enough to win the title.

At one time Germany were a team of muscular journeymen, rather than elegant artists symbolised by Franz Beckenbauer and Gunther Netzer.
Remember Horst Hrubesch, Hans-Peter Briegel and the pragmatic Lothar Matthaeus?

While Beckenbauer and Netzer exuded style en route to the 1972 European Championship and the 1974 World Cup victory, the succeeding generation ground out results often by cynical means. In 1982, they cheated the Algerians, pole-axed French defender Patrick Battiston and Toni Schumacher resurrected the image of the "ugly German".

Matthaeus was one of most distinctive of the ugly Germans in Espana'82.
Yet in 1990, although the tournament was reduced to being the diving World Cup, characters like Matthaeus, Andreas Brehme, Juergen Kohler, Guido Buchwald and Klinsmann himself were rewarded for their creative contribution, however little.

From the class of 2006, only Bastian Schweinsteiger has that mean streak in the mould of his predecessors. In the final analysis, Klinsi's pretty boys are not ugly enough to challenge for the title.

Joachim Loew, in contrast, has instilled that "ugliness" I guess!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who would be our first sports millionaire/s?

The Beijing Olympics is just around the corner and the whole country must be wondering if the gold medal is finally within the contingent's grasp.

Since the Government has decided to reward the nation's Olympic gold medallists with RM1 million apiece (I thought RM500,000 was more appropriate), let's take a look at our best prospects.



The year 2008 has been forgettable so far for Kedah lad Tan Boon Heong and Ipoh mali Koo Kien Keat. The latter (right) injured his right hand in a freak accident early this month and is desperate to regain his self-belief, energy and focus ahead of Beijing. Unfortunately for us, the duo are nowehere the form that propelled them to the Doha Asian Games gold medal, the Malaysian Open, the All-England and the Swiss Open in a space of a few weeks early last year.




Some believe Lee Chong Wei stands a brighter chance of finishing on the podium than the doubles pair and this is true based on current form. Dubbed the Plastic Man by Harian Metro's Manan Samad, the world No 2 from Bukit Mertajam can beat anybody on his day.



pic courtesy josiahng.wordpress.com (from left) Josiah Ng, Shane Kelly and Florian Rousseau

I had the good fortune of covering the Athens Games four years ago. While taking a break from listening to Lazarus Rokk's rantings and ravings in the media centre at the velodrome, I saw one gentleman hanging around the corridor. It was the Sydney Games gold medallist Florian Rousseau. I spoke to him about Josiah Ng for a good five minutes. Following is the piece...
A PLACE in the keirin final beckons for Josiah Ng on Wednesday.
This personal endorsement came from French legendary cyclist Florian Rousseau, the keirin Olympic champ in Sydney 2000 who is here as a commentator with European sports channel Eurosport.
Rousseau, who has one of the most impressive palmares (honours) in the world of cycling, three Olympic gold medals - one silver and seven world titles in his array of titles - said Josiah stands a great chance of mounting the podium.
"I have raced against him many times. He is a good rider in keirin. He did well in the sprints tonight (last night) but his speciality is always the keirin.
"I believe he will advance to the final. Then it is anybody's guess because there is little to separate the six riders in the final," said Rousseau, 30, who bid adieu after a dismal performance in the World Championship in Melbourne.
Two-time keirin world champion Jens Fiedler from Germany believes Josiah will be the pride of Malaysia soon.
"He is young while the rest of the keirin riders, like me for example, are nearing the end of our careers.
"He will be determined to do well here because it is his first Games. It is good to see up-and-coming riders like him establishing themselves in the world circuit," said Fiedler, who was the No 1 in the World Cup last year.
Josiah failed in his bid to enter the top eight in the men's sprint but credit to him for giving the likes of Australia's Commonwealth Games gold medallists Ryan Bayley and Sean Eadie a great fight last night.
The Swiss-based Manila-born keirin specialist took the track on five occasions but had to contend with the 9-12 classification tomorrow.



I hope Jo is close to his peak. It has been a while since I last spoke to Jo, so I was pleasantly surprised upon discovering a commenter who signed off as kimong.com in an earlier posting in this blog is his significant other. Check out kimong.com. If Jo wins the gold, they can tie the knot and book a honeymoon at one of the far-flung and exotic Greek islands.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

RM1 million for Olympic gold

A gold medal at the Beijing Olympics is worth RM1 million!

Our athletes never had it so good. Not only they get monthly allowances and other perks, but the National Sports Council has also reviewed its incentive scheme called Shakam, or Skim Hadiah Kemenangan.

If Josiah Ng wins the keirin or sprint event in Beijing, he will become a millionaire!

A silver medal is worth RM300,000 while a bronze RM100,000. This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak after chairing the Cabinet Committee on Sports Development a short while ago.

The previous amount under the scheme was RM160,000 for gold, RM80,000 for silver and RM40,000 for bronze.

There are only five Malaysian medal winners at the biggest stage of all, and that too came after badminton was introduced in Barcelona'92.

They are Razif-Jalani Sidek (bronze medal in 1992), Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock (silver in 1996) and Rashid Sidek (bronze in 1996). They are beneficiaries of a pension scheme introduced during Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said's time.

Kedah, Holland and Mindef

Wearing a Galatasaray jersey given by my brother-in-law Azam, I made my fourth appearance on TV9's breakfast talk show Nasi Lemak Kopi O last Sunday.
Fellow guest was Selangor coach Dollah Salleh.



While the topic centred on the ongoing Euros, it was natural for compere Yatt (left) to congratulate Kedah on their 3-2 victory over Selangor in the FA Cup final the night before.



It was a double blow for Dollah, for he is an avid fan of the Dutch team, who were shown the exit by Russia in the Euro2008 quarterfinals hours earlier.

I said the Selangor defence were too generous in giving acres of space for the Canaries to wreak havoc. Even without topscorer Marlon Alex James and Cornelius Bernard Hugging or fondly known as Outlaw, Kedah proved to be deserving winners. To me, the final was the perfect advert for the local game. It had drama, a red card, five goals including one penalty and a controversial save on the line. What more can you ask? But surely you can't expect our teams to perform anywhere near the Russians.

I was surprised by the outcome of the Russia-Netherlands match but since it is universally accepted that Guus Hiddink is a master tactician, underestimate Russia at your own peril!



While waiting for our turn to take the stage, I chatted with a lady colonel who was accompanying her boss, Brig Gen Anuar Sabtu, Director of Education, Malaysian Armed Forces, to talk about the Army. Kol Fadzlette Othman Merican Idris Merican is no stranger to the Press. She is the Mindef Public Relations Deputy Director.

"Akak jemput datang ke media night Mindef, 30 Jun nanti. Jangan tak datang ya," said the colonel.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tuanku Mizan launches encyclopedia

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin recently launched Editions Didier Millet's Sports and Recreation Encyclopedia, aptly at the Stadium Negara, which bore witness to, among other successes, the historic Thomas Cup victory in 1992, Prakash Padukone's demolition of Han Jian and the sepak takraw MAS-Utusan-World Cup.



This is the cover of the encyclopedia. The volume editor is Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid. It is Volume 15 of the Encyclopedia of Malaysia series, a national project which is the largest reference work on Malaysia ever undertaken. Volume 1 - The Environment, Volume 2 - Plants, Volume 3 - Animals, Volume 4 - Early History, Volume 5 - Architecture, Volume 6 - The Seas, Volume 7 - Early Modern History, Volume 8 - Performing Arts, Volume 9 - Languages and Literature, Volume 10 - Religions and Beliefs, Volume 11 - Government and Politics, Volume 12 - Peoples and Traditions, Volume 13 - The Economy, Volume 14 - Crafts and the Visual Arts and the sports volume. The final volume in the series is The Malay Sultanates.


I'm proud to be associated with the prestigious project. Notice that anaesthesiologist and former cricketer Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Alex Delilkan and former New Straits Times and Malay Mail journo and ex-national fencer, Gerald Martinez, are the other two editorial consultants.


The editorial team... credit to them for having produced a must-have book. Part and parcel of their job is to identify and commission the contributors. Among the contributors are Arnaz M. Khairul and K.M. Boopathy (New Straits Times), D. Raj (the Star), Terrence Netto, Heidi Munan, the late Percy Seneviratne and of course Ian Augustine Pereira, my esteemed ex-colleague at the Malay Mail. A renowned writer with a keen eye for detail and statistics, Ian is sadly being used mainly to write obituaries these days.


A member of the Sports and Recreation committee, Dr Jega appears to be happy standing where he is, whereas Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia president, Datuk Abdul Razak Latiff
(right), seems to be running away from the former speed merchant. Datuk Razak who has pumped his own money to finance part of LTAM's activities, is hotly tipped to replace Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis as the Equestrian Association of Malaysia president. He's one well-connected businessman.



(From left) three otais from hockey, Datuk R. Yogeswaran, N Sri Shanmuganathan and Datuk Poon Fook Loke seated at the same table. By now they must be discussing the allegations contained in a series of poison-pen letters widely circulated among the fraternity.



One of the editors is American-born William Citrin (left) who without doubt had painstakingly and patiently scrutinised every single word of the manuscript.



Lady power...Prof Datuk Dr Asmah Omar (second from left), Datuk Sharifah Mazlina Abdul Kadir (third from left) and Puan Azah Aziz (right). Prof Asmah and Puan Azah are members of the Editorial Advisory Board chaired by Tun Ahmad Sarji. Prof Asmah is also the Volume Editor of Volume 9, Languages and Literature.
The Sports and Recreation Committee was headed by Tun Ahmad Sarji and its members were Prof Dr Ghulam Sarwar Yousof, Prof Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Kim, Datuk Dr M. Jegathesan, Mr Lazarus Rokk (hmm, his name sounds familiar), former National Sports Council director-general Datuk Noh Abdullah, P.C. Shivadas and Tan Sri Dr Wan Mohd Zahid Noordin.

Patron of the Encyclopedia of Malaysia project is of course Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was a writer long before he became a doctor.

Report not against Malay Mail

Malay Mail has the latest on the allegations of match-fixing.

Read
HERE

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Yellow and Green, Yellow and Red

It's the FA Cup final tomorrow and I suspect it is going to be an interesting contest.

Newly-crowned Super League champions Kedah boast of a group of hard-working youngsters who place the team's interests above all. In Khyril Muhymeen Zambri, the Canaries possess one of the nation's best dribblers while keeper Helmi Eliza Elias, on current form, is the top custodian. Azraai who represented the country in the 1976 Asian Cup and the 1978 Asian Games, prefers a 4-4-2 formation. Never mind the fact Cornelius Bernard Hugging and Marlon Alex James are away on national duty, the all-local line-up (except for Chilean Nelson San Martin) will be up to the task.



pic courtesy of http://www.fam.org.my/

Will this jubilant scene above be repeated by Azraai Khor Abdullah and his boys or is it pre-ordained that the Red Giants (below) would triumph for the fifth time since the Cup was introduced in 1990?


pic courtesy of http://www.selangorfc.com/



Dollah's men are desperate to redeem their pride after a disappointing league campaign and he has been bold in putting his trust in a young defence. If Evans Chisulo has not recovered from his injury, Razman Roslan (or Ghani Abdul Rahman), Nasriq Baharom and Asraruddin Putra Omar are set to be the youngest defensive quartet with an average age of 22. Amirulhadi Zainal who was only five when his father Zainal Nordin lifted the Cup with the Red Giants in 1991, may boss the engine room alongside Shukor Adan, with Indra Putra Mahayuddin or R. Surendren on the left channel and Elie Aiboy on the right flank while Safee Sali and Amri Yahyah forming the frontline.

It is a pity that former Kedah star Akmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli who has never won a title except for the Premier Two championship medal, is not in Dollah's starting line-up.

Without James and Hugging, Selangor enjoy a headstart.

The rise of the Pig Climber

Bastian Schweinsteiger...ah, I had the good fortune of watching the Bayern Munich star scoring his first two international goals against Russia in 2005. I was there among the crowd at the Borrusia Park, Monchengladbach.

A year later I wrote this piece for the old Malay Mail, and I gave the heading Mannschaft maestros!

Early this morning he scored one and set up two as Germany sent Cristiano Ronaldo's stepovers packing!


YESTERDAY the Teutonic instincts were driven by Gunther Netzer and Bernd Schuster. Today it's all about Michael Ballack. Tomorrow shall belong to Bastian Schweinsteiger.
On a chilly night at Borussia-Park in Monchengladbach exactly a year ago (June 8), this scribe was privileged enough to witness Schweinsteiger's first two international goals in a German shirt.
Before a capacity crowd of 46,228, Schweinsteiger's prodigious talent was there for all to see. Trailing to an Alexander Anyukov goal in the 26th minute, Germany equalised five minutes later through a well-worked move sealed by a goal that bore Schweinsteiger's signature, a low shot that was deflected into the right corner of Sergei Ovchinnikov's goal.
Fielded on the left flank, Schweinsteiger notched his second of the evening by placing his shot inside the near post after slaloming past two Russian defenders on the edge of the area in the 70th minute.
The two moments of inspiration established Schweinsteiger's reputation as Germany's latest poster boy, following in the well-beaten path paved by Netzer, Schuster and Stefan Effenberg, just to name a few.
An exciting attacking midfield prospect and notorious bad boy, Schweinsteiger's reputation, just like his illustrious predecessors, precedes him.
He was once caught in a disco on the eve of a game, fined for speeding and in a bizarre incident, was caught with a girlfriend in the whirlpool at the Bayern training ground in the middle of the night.
On the pitch it's hard not to notice Schweinsteiger, always the livewire either on the left flank or in the middle of the park, an area currently reserved for the talent of Chelsea new signing Ballack.
Once Ballack quits the Nationalmannschaft, Schweinsteiger, whose name means pig climber in English, will no doubt be his natural successor.
His playing style is a throwback to the glorious yesteryear when Netzer, along with Franz Beckenbauer, personified the elegance not usually associated with German football.
When others were methodical and mechanical in their approach, Netzer was the rebel, the artistic maverick with the flowing blond locks, the footballer frequently photographed at the wheel of a sports car.
The image of Monchengladbach-born Netzer striding forward, long hair glinting in the floodlights became a symbol of German football.
He was able to spray long, hard passes all over the pitch with devastating accuracy.
The tradition was continued by Schuster, the enfant terrible in the 1980s.
Brilliant at club level, the Blonde Angel never really fulfilled his potential in the black and white of the national team.
Differences with the coach, Jupp Derwall, kept him on the outside of the `Mannschaft' and his personal caps tally stopped at 21.
Effenberg, languid and elegant, compiled 35 caps and scored three goals for the German national team. He will be remembered most for showing the finger to the whistling crowd during a 1994 World Cup match against South Korea.
Obviously Schweinsteiger's journey into football folklore has just begun.

FACTFILE
GUNTHER NETZER
Date of birth: Sept 14, 1944, Monchengladbach
Clubs: Borussia Monchengladbach, Real Madrid, Grasshoppers Zurich
International appearances: 37
International goals: 6
Honours: European Champion 1972, World Cup winner 1974
* Tasted only 21 minutes of World Cup action in 1974, when skipper Beckenbauer preferred Wolfgang Overath and Rainer Bonhof.
MICHAEL BALLACK
Date of birth: Sept 26, 1976, Gorlitz
Clubs: BSG Motor Karl Marx Stadt, Chemnitzer, Kaiserslautern, Bayer
Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Chelsea
International appearances: 65
International goals: 31
Honours: World Cup runners-up 2002
* Single-handedly drove Germany to the 2002 final but had to miss that match due to suspension. The Germans then lost to Ronaldo's brace.
BASTIAN SCHWEINSTEIGER
Date of birth: Aug 1, 1984, Kolbermoor
Clubs: Bayern Munich
International appearances: 28
International goals: 7
* The next big star for Germany



Anyway, in my earlier posting, I predicted Portugal, Turkey from Group A, Germany, Croatia from Group B, France and Holland from Group C and Spain and Russia from Group D to make the last eight of the Euros. Well, seven out of eight is not bad! Who would have thought Turkey making the cut but I did!







Cintahoki has opened a can of worms

Read Malay Mail's stunning revelation today

here

and

here

Cintahoki's letters, even if they were written using a nom de plume, may have opened a can of worms.

If the allegations were true, it is indeed scandalous!

But I must wonder why only now NSC director-general Datuk Zolkples Embong is saying something. Why not earlier?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cheer, cheer and courage display


Is this the team that will be able to take Malaysia out of perpetual darkness? The pitch looks nice, some of the players appear to be Ronaldo look-alikes or wannabes (the AC Milan's Ronaldo, ah, not the Real Madrid-bound Portuguese star) and those standing look to have the confidence and swagger of the French Euro 2008 defence. Who could they be?

Be prepared, MHF!




A series of Malay Mail exposes is expected to shake the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) to the core! It can come sooner rather than later...
UPDATES
Read

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Launch of sports encyclopedia

(From left) former track queen Datuk M. Rajamani, middle-distance king R. Subramaniam
and his successor, M. Ramachandran



Renowned publisher Editions Didier Millet is of course named after this French gentleman, Didier. If he's a footy fan, I'm sure he would love to condemn Domenech to the guillotine. The gentleman in the yellow suit is National Art Laureate, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal


The only Malaysian to have enjoyed VIP status in both FIFA and IOC,

Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah


Datuk Ho Koh Chye (left) and his former boss, Datuk Noh Abdullah


Recently conferred the Tunship is the volume editor, Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, president of Malaysian Lawn Bowls Federation, and deputy president of Malaysian Malays Cricket Association


Datuk Sharifah Mazlina Syed Kadir and P.C. Shivadas


Malaysian Gymnastics Federation president Prof Datuk Zakaria Ahmad (left) and Tan Sri Dr M. Mahadevan


Supermokh's widow, Tengku Zarina Tengku Ibrahim and Tn Haji Bakri Ibni


Former MAAU president Datuk Khalid Yunus and Raja Bola, Datuk Abdul Ghani Minhat


Soft-spoken and friendly off the track, but one tough runner on it, that's Rama for you

Is Olympic Council of Malaysia secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi bracing for changes?


I love Santokh Singh's free-kicks taken by using the outsteps of his boots during the bygone era


Tuan Haji Bakri Ibni scored the opening goal for Malaysia in the famous 2-1 victory over South Korea in the pre-Olympics match that guaranteed us a ticket to Moscow Olympics in 1980 but etched in most people's mind is the winning goal scored by the gangly James Wong

Au revoir, Les Miserables



France's 2-0 defeat to Italy in the Euros marked the end of a golden generation that swept almost everything before them.

Thuram, Makelele, Coupet and Henry may have worn the blue jersey for the last time, paving the way for a new generation to take over.

Thuram made his debut alongside Zidane in August 1994 under Jacquet and was an integral member of the team that lifted the World Cup in 1998, the Euros in 2000 and the Confederations Cup in 2001 and finishing runners-up in the 2006 World Cup.

To them, we say merci beaucoup.

Domenech, I expect, will step down to make way for either Deschamps, Tigana or Blanc.

By the time the next major tournament in South Africa takes place, I hope the French will qualify.

The team could read Frey, Sagna, Evra (Glichy), Gallas, Mexes, Diarra, Diaby, Nasri, Ribery, Benzema, Ben Arfa.

Expect Mandanda, Zubar, Mvuemba, Mavuba, Ricardo Faty to be a feature as well.

Au revoir...a bientot

R.I.P Shoot!



Shoot! magazine which formed part of my diet throughout my childhood is no more.

Now I must rummage through my old stuff and see whether the copies I have had in my possession are still around.

Among the editions I remember most were Ron Greenwood's squad that had Kevin Keegan, Trevor Brooking and my favourite player Trevor Francis in 1980, Ipswich skipper Mick Mills in an aerial duel with Norwich City's Kevin Bond (son of manager John) and naturally the annuals, which was something I look forward to at the end the year. Relatives and friends who were privileged enough to spend the winter in England would come back with a copy of the annual for me!

As the years went by, Shoot!, published by IPC magazine which also had Look and Learn in its stable, underwent several transformation as they sought to be less Anglo-centric in their approach. By the time I set foot into Balai Berita, I was already an avid reader of World Soccer, Keir Radnedge and Brian Glanville as well as FourFourTwo before the introduction of the local version.

Look and Learn, by the way, was also a great source of information for both Kak Lin and I.

Datuk Fauzi Omar, one of the nation's foremost sports critics, once told me Shoot! was his constant companion throughout his adolescence. I'm sure Shoot! had impacted a lot of us ever since it was launched in 1969.

Football365.com has this story

Shoot magazine is no more after almost 40 years in the children's football magazine market.


It was launched in 1969 and during the Seventies and Eighties it was essential reading for most young boys every week as it dominated the market.


It's popularity waned in the Nineties as Match became the market leader, with Shoot switching to a monthly schedule.


Earlier this year they returned to a weekly format to go head-to-head-to head with Match and the newly-launched Match of the Day magazine, but publishers IPC have now admitted defeat.


They are in talks to keep the name alive and protect the famous Shoot Annual, but the magazine is no more.


"It is with great regret that we have had to make this decision," said Paul Williams, the managing director of IPC Inspire.


"We are of course in consultation with the six permanent staff directly affected by the proposal, and every effort will be made to find alternative jobs if this becomes necessary."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Banker jadi pengurus

PASUKAN bola sepak Selangor kini mempunyai seorang banker yang memiliki Masters dalam Komunikasi Korporat selaku pengurus pasukan.

Ikuti temubual selangorfc.com dengan Zakaria Ab Rahim di http://selangorfc.com/berita/v5/arkib/2008/06/papar/siapakah-zakaria-ab-rahim.html

The demise of Malaysian hockey?

A letter accusing the Malaysian Hockey Federation of many things has been widely circulated.

I wish MHF would respond to it positively and look into the issues raised by Cintahoki which among others include a summary of the standards of the various national teams.

I wish to reproduce parts of the letter by Cintahoki titled THE DEMISE OF MALAYSIAN HOCKEY, accompanied by mugshots of four individuals whom he claimed had murdered the game (I've conveniently deleted them).


SUMMARY OF MALAYSIAN HOCKEY STANDARDS (unedited) but this blog writer has deleted a few names and allegations of wrongdoings.

SENIOR TEAM – APRIL & MAY 2008
* Did not Qualify for Beijing Olympics in Japan
* Last in the recent Azlan Shah Trophy

JUNIOR TEAM – JUNE 2008
* Lost to Austria – (4-3)
* Lost to Poland – (2-1)
* 3rd Placing in 4 Nation Tournament

Under 16 TEAM – MAY 2008
* Last Placing in Germany – 4 Nation Tournament
* Lost all the Matches

DETERIORATING STANDARD OF HOCKEY

Senior Team:

Qualifiers in Japan

What is a decent result? Could not believe it because of the following reasons:
1 Italy is ranked 37th and Malaysia 14th
2 Spent millions on the Malaysian team preparation till MHF is in debts of 1.71 millions.
3 Big Funding from NSC on the Coaches and Team.
4 Malaysian team played in an elite tournament i.e. Champions Trophy (Dec 2007) and also went to Australia (Feb/March 2008) for exposure.
5 Two years of preparation i.e. full time training (day in day out).
6 Lofty level of benefits – allowances, accommodation and food is free.
7 Foreign assistance – Goalkeeper Coach from Pakistan and Advisor from Germany.
8 Scientific training – Support from ISN on fitness and nutrition
9 Physiotherapy, Medical Officer and Masseurs for the team.

Played 6 games – 3 win 2 draws and 1 lost. Scored 16 and let in 14 goals.

Out of Finals & Qualifiers - is it a decent result?



The Qualifiers in Japan, we heard that about 31 people went to the games to make sure the team performed at its very best – at least a seat in the Finals.

There were many officials from the Coaching team, Medical Team, Management team, Trainer, Cooks, Physiotherapist, Masseur, Video-man, NSC officials and others. Only missing link is Weatherman and Cheer Group – no allocation but NSC could consider including them in the next qualifiers, but make sure the cheerleaders are girls to stimulate the coaches and the team. No wonder the Organizers said the hotel rooms are fully booked and Gifu Government also mentioned that the turnover of tourist rise by 10% for the month of April…

The coaching department comprise of 4 members - 1 head coach, 2 assistant coaches and 1 Goalkeeper coach. MHF appointed a new assistant coach who hardly only played hockey at University or State level. No coaching background, surprisingly how did NSC allow to slip in this guy into the coaching setup and fully paid for his trip? The other coaches are appointed based on friendship and not on merit. To be a coach in the National setup you need be a friend of the arrogants and follow what they say. Don’t worry whether you are qualified or not and what was you past coaching credentials, all this is not an important yardstick for the evaluation of the appointment. There were rumors that the current coaches have filed in for their salary increment to NSC. The revised salary asked around $15k to $21k. Don’t worry it is possible due to friendship policy between MHF and NSC. Can be done even failed to qualify…

There are two Mangers i.e. Manager and Stand-in Manager registered on the bench. But why MHF need to register two managers but only one manager was in action. What to do, just follow instruction. Everything is done based on what the arrogants feel is right. Whether the team needs one or two Manager is secondary “Mahu tolong kawan ma..”


The Implication for not Qualifying:

1 Ranking now 14th to 20th (postulation) after Beijing Olympics. Drop too many points to sustain number 14th. Missed 2 Olympics and 1 World Cup.
2 The Sports Ministry may consider to revised from Category A to Category B sports.
3 No sufficient / allocation of funds for future exposure and oversea stint.
4 Future generation hockey players’ benefits jeopardize.
5 Top ranking teams (1 to 10) may not invite Malaysia to participate due to the poor standard of international hockey.
6 The interest of future generation to be involved in hockey looks very dim.


Azlan Shah Trophy 2008

First of all the standard of the tournament has diminished by inviting second world-class team. Previously, all the Champions Trophy team like Germany, Australia, Holland, Spain, South Korea will take part in the Azlan Shah Cup. Since two years – 2007 & 2008 of the Trophy, the mediocre or second-class teams are invited. But what happened now – last in the Group???

Last year Runners-up, as of today they are last position with only 4 points.

Have MHF submitted the POST-MORTEM REPORT of Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy 2008 to NSC?


Junior Team:

In the recent 4 Nation Tournament in Poland, Malaysia played 3 games and lost two and win one. But they lost to Australia…. OOPss is Austria, an ice-skating nation. Our Senior Team lost to Italy, eating pizza nation and our juniors now also follow suit. How come we loose to Austria, who were called by the Organizers at the last minute to put up a team as the replacement for Germany pulling out from the tournament.

Muralee and Rajan are with the team; surprisingly for this trip there is no Manager appointed. Austria is ranked 25th and Poland 21st and Malaysia 15th. What garbage is the coach excuse that the players travel a distance before the match? Then how come they loose to Poland.

This Junior is our future Senior hockey players. How are these players going to represent the nation in the near future? The Appointment of Coaches must be reviewed.

The National Juniors Team; heard the Team is renting houses in Seri Kembangan area and not staying in NSC Complex. Sources say that NSC has asked the Juniors Team to leave the NSC accommodation because most the players were caught smoking. But I think there are better reasons for the removal. If smoking is an issue, then the National Team is also to be removed coz most of the National players are also smoking.

Under 16 Team:

Played in Germany – 4 Nation Tournament and the Coach was K Rajan of TNB. Lost all the Games. Germany beat Malaysia 5-1, Holland beat Malaysia 3-0 and Belgium beat Malaysia 3-2. Another disaster… They are our future generation for Juniors.

The Manager to Germany Under 16 National team appointed was a relative to the Sarawak hockey administrators. Since he could not make it, he requested whether a relative of him to be appointed as the Team Manager of the Under 16 Team. Strangely, the MHF permitted his appointment even he is a layman in hockey. What a humiliation!!!


All the 3 letters was sent to the Prime Minister Department, Sports Minister, KBS, NSC, MHF and all Medias and some hockey lovers. But what has NSC and MHF have done? Nothing happened but to kill the game of hockey.

After the Azlan Shah Cup, the National Head Coach has decided to rest because they achieved very good result, I think so…. There is no training for a month now, there is a tussle between NSC and MHF to pay allowance to all the players because the team is not being training for a month. Heard that Joherman of NSC is a caretaker of hockey. Joherman gives a date of training to Arrifin and then the stand-up comedian cancels it.


More so there is no any direction and a proper plan for the National Team. A blind Coach is leading a blind team. Feedback from the National players, most of them are upset and not keen to play under his regime.

ALL THE AFFILIATES – IS TIME TO DIG-UP THE GAME FROM THE GRAVE
AND RE-ESTABLISH THE ADMINISTRATION AND COACHING SET-UP OF MALAYSIAN HOCKEY…

Monday, June 16, 2008

Congrats, Kak Lin




One fine day, at our humble abode, this sister of mine, in typical fashion, suggested this:

"Eh, Riz...ni ada iklan NST, pre-Editorial Training Scheme...for reporters...apply lah...mana tau ada rezeki, daripada asyik baca sports magazines dan melukis aje...pergilah apply...I know you like sports, you go to stadiums and you have this uncanny knack of recognising faces..."

(Ah, she must have remembered the day I told her I said hello to Tai Beng Hai (now hockey coach) in a minibus, during my student days...Beng Hai appeared surprised)...

I can't remember exactly the chronology of events leading to the application and later interview but by the year-end, I was already a sports reporter at Berita Harian!

The interview was conducted by M.A Razman, Yunus Said (who went on to become TV3 director of operations) and Nashruladin Abdul Rahman (now Malaysiakini.com editor).

Among the questions thrown to my face:

"Oh, you minat sukan...kenapa?"

"Kalau betul you minat sukan, berapa besar saiz gelanggang badminton?"

Let's skip the details.

Because of you, Kak Lin, my colleagues and bosses could pay their Citibank bills without having to go to the HQ (remember this was the pre-Internet banking days)...

Because of you, I got to know Old Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh...

Because of you, well, we fought like cat and mouse...

Because of you, Arwah Mak and Ayah made it a point to go to MRSM Seremban every weekend for five years, leaving me the keys to the house...

Because of you and your friends, I got to read French football magazine Onze Mondial...(your friends were vacationing in Paris and I asked you whether they could get me the mags, they later posted them to me)...that was in 1987 and I have them until today...

Because of you, Man and I were content on taking a backseat and be timid because Arwah Mak and Ayah would always urge the eldest to take charge...

Because of you, Intan and I can take a breather on the weekends from 'Akif and Alfiyyah...

We may have our differences, we may be considered loose cannons in our own unique way but air yang dicincang takkan putus.

Thanks again, Kak Lin. I owe you my career, ceh wah! Oh lupa, congratulations. Arwah Ayah would surely be proud of you because he was conferred his economics degree on that same stage at DTC!

p/s now that I've bodek-ed you, when can I get that loan, ah?

Enough of the crumbs...

It's time to grab the bread.

It's great to see Bukit Mertajam boy Lee Chong Wei lifting the Singapore Open (at least we have a Malaysian winning on Kiasu land) but nothing beats the Olympics. Perform there and your name will forever be etched in the annals of Malaysian sports.

I was in Athens for the 2004 Olympics and I was not only disappointed with the contingent but also the then Sports Minister's habit of making other people wait! It is as if the whole world revolves around her!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A football family




One thing I like about Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad, when he was heading the FA of Malaysia secretariat, was his ability to cope and deal with criticism.

Sure he gave me a rollicking on a few occasions that I took a dig at FAM throughout his two-year tenure as the general secretary.

I swam against the current when FAM (and Pak Lah) wanted to go ahead with the Manchester United match despite the Malaysian government's contractual obligations with the Asian Football Confederation.

I questioned FAM's role as the supposedly end-users of the high performance training centre in Brickendonbury, London and whether or not FAM were consulted in the Champions Youth Cup (CYC) saga.

We argued on many issues and I gave him my two sens' worth, even "live" on RTM1's Fokus Bola shortly after the Asian Cup debacle last year, when I felt FAM were not doing enough to help Norizan Bakar form a decent squad.

So it was nice to appear again on TV this morning with Dr Ibrahim and he was not alone this time. The former Penang Deputy Chief Minister brought along his offsprings Zaiful, Zairil, Zaireen and Zaida for TV9's breakfast talk show Nasi Lemak Kopi O at Sri Pentas, where we got to discuss the ongoing Euros with hosts Yat and Aziz Desa.

Moi, on the left, wearing an old jersey of Les Bleus. The white strip is the away kit worn by the Cantona and Papin generation between 1993-1995. It's a special one because I bought it at the adidas boutique at Rue de Louvre in Paris after covering the Toulon Youth Festival (featuring David Beckham among others) for Berita Harian in 1995.

The French were not exactly on top of the world at that time, having failed to qualify for the USA World Cup in 1994.

Second pic (courtesy of Aishah and Kak Lin) from left loose cannon, Yat, Dr Ibrahim (England fan), Zaida (Holland fan), Zaireen (Dutch fan), Zairil (Dutch fan) and Zaiful (an avid fan of France).

I wonder who the Minister is...

My ex-colleague at the Malay Mail, Terence Fernandez, took potshots at one Minister in the Sun's Friday issue.

Practise what you preach.
Terence Fernandez

WORKING on theSun’s Euro 2008 special afternoon edition is not easy, although everyone thinks we have a cushy job watching football and being able to wear shorts to work. It is no walk in the park to work throughout the night, especially when you have to endure dreary matches like France vs Romania. One would rather watch paint dry.
This is why I have to thank a certain minister for keeping me from falling asleep on the job and inspiring me to pen this column.

Trying hard to keep awake, I was browsing through the newspapers (some may argue this will have a reverse effect) when my senses were rejuvenated by a report of the minister exhorting Malaysians to save by spending their holidays locally. I have no doubt that with the current cost of living, a local holiday – which in many cases means balik kampung – is about all many Malaysians can afford. And there is no shame in vacationing in Langkawi, the East Coast or one of our many hill resorts. They have beautiful beaches, pristine sceneries and will not cost you an arm and a leg.

My young cousin in up-market Bangsar who had visited my parents in Kelantan during the school holidays was relating his experience to several hoity-toity classmates who were bragging about their vacations in Europe and Australia. They were mesmerised by his tale of taking a boat ride, seeing a cow for the first time, thinking it was a horse and trying his hand at pottery – and conceded that he had a better holiday than them!

Which is why, while I am all excited with my impending all-expenses-paid trip to Vienna to watch the Euro semis, at the back of my mind is the credit cards I am going to max out on incidentals such as catching a Mozart symphony performance or visiting Salzburg.

Back to the minister. While the advice is sound and prudent, it is nothing short of laughable since the message comes from someone who almost emptied the coffers of another ministry and its subsidiaries which the minister headed previously.

And the minister’s first order of business in the new ministry? Spending more than RM300,000 to renovate a new office in Putrajaya, before moving from the previous building which was home to five of the minister’s predecessors.

I am convinced that the honourable minister’s advice does not come from the heart. If anyone was serious about the rising cost of living and being prudent with money – theirs and others – it would show through actions not words.

Which is why instead of inspiring the people, such advice only tends to infuriate them further. It’s like asking us to eat ubi kayu, while you dine on champagne and caviar. Telling us to commute, while you move around in a limo with two outriders.

It’s all about leadership by example. The minister, unfortunately is not alone. The minister merely symbolises others in positions of power who "cakap tak serupa bikin".

Having said that, following the minister’s advice, one hopes that we will see an end to all lawatan sambil belajar. But then, just slap a tag of "drawing investments" and it will be business as usual again.

To quote pop star Phil Collins: "Just do as I say, don’t do as I do."

Selamat Hari Bapa




To all fathers out there, Selamat Hari Bapa.

Kepada mereka yang bergelar Bapa, Ayah, Father, Daddy, Dada, Abah, Appa, Happy Father's Day.

Khas buat Abah, Cikgu Abdul Jalil Awang, bapa-bapa saudaraku dan saudara-maraku yang kekal tabah memimpin keluarga.

Class of 84 reunion



With the 2008 generation having shown little indication of emulating the class of 1984 and 2000, it's best that we reignite memories of the band of French musketeers that conquered all and sundry in France'84 through their cavalier approach. Thanks to uefa.com.

The UEFA's official Euro website did not caption this picture. Anybody?

From left Jean Francois Domergue (left-back), Bernard Genghini (midfield), Philippe Bergeroo (goalkeeper), Jean-Amadou Tigana (midfield), Bruno Bellone (left-winger), Dominique Rocheteau (attacker), Bernard Lacombe (forward), Michel Platini (maestro), Michel Hidalgo (entraineur), Daniel Bravo (attacker), Didier Six (left-winger), Albert Rust (goalkeeper)...among those not in the picture Joel Bats, Yvon Le Roux, Manuel Amoros, Luis Fernandez, Jean Marc Ferreri

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dutch delight, Domenech sings Les Bleus

Fresh Oranje, clockwork orange, agent orange, whatever. Watching Marco van Basten's men destroy France with four goals of pure quality was sheer entertainment.

My ex-colleague Ghaz Ramli was not the only one celebrating, I guess. Former Negri Sembilan Malays player, Abu Bakar Atan, must be jumping for joy.

The French clearly cannot cope with life without abang Din, or Zinedine Yazid Zidane. Still Les Bleus might still be able to sneak into the last eight, provided the Dutch beat Romania while Domenech's musketeers overwhelm the Italians!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Les Bleus or Brilliant Oranje?

I think this is what Domenech has in mind for the all-important clash against the Dutch. France to win, narrowly.

Coupet

Sagnol Thuram Gallas Abidal


Makelele Vieira


Govou Ribery Malouda

Henry


Just to recap:-

France 2006 line-up


Barthez

Sagnol Thuram Gallas Abidal

Makelele Vieira

Ribery Zidane Malouda

Henry

France 2000 line-up


Barthez

Thuram Desailly Blanc Lizarazu



Vieira Deschamps Petit


Djorkaeff Zidane

Henry

France 1998 line-up


Barthez


Thuram Desailly Blanc Lizarazu


Karembeu Deschamps Petit

Djorkaeff Zidane

Guivarch


France 1986 line-up


Bats

Ayache Bossis Battiston Amoros


Tigana Fernandez


Giresse

Platini

Stopyra Papin


France 1984 line-up


Bats

Amoros Bossis Battiston Domergue

Tigana Fernandez

Giresse

Platini

Lacombe Bellone


France 1982 line-up

Ettori


Amoros Tresor Janvion Bossis


Tigana

Giresse Genghini


Platini


Rocheteau Six



France 1978 line-up




Bertrand-Demanes


Bossis Tresor Lopez Janvion


Michel Bathenay

Platini

Rocheteau
Lacombe Six

A Federer in the making?




Ahmad Deedat...hmm that is a famous name. It belongs to the late South African Islamic scholar (first pic).

But young Ahmad Deedat Abdul Razak (second pic, courtesy of the Star), surely named after the first one, is determined to create an impression in the world of tennis.

Malay Mail carried this story two days ago...

IT may not have been millions, but it’s a step in the right direction.

It also indicates corporate bodies are willing to step in and fund our up-coming athletes.

CIMB Foundation will provide a total of RM132,720 to youngster Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak for the next six months in a bid for him to break into the top eight of the ATF Under-14 circuit.

The sponsorship came as a pleasant surprise to Ahmed, who turns 13 next Wednesday.

“The money will help me prepare better and I hope to fulfil my dream,” said Ahmed.

“I like Roger Federer as he’s good on any surface and his strokes are flawless.”

Ahmed, who picked up the sport at the tender age of eight thanks to his father Abdul Razak Yusof, has played in several local and international meets including winning both the National Boys Under-12 and the Junior Circuit (Boys Under-12) Masters singles events last year.

Currently home-schoolled, Ahmed is coached by his father along with ex-Davis Cupper Filipino Ronald Martin.

He is the top ranked boys Under-14 player in the country and is placed 17th in the ATF standings.

Ahmed was met at the sponsorship presentation ceremony at CIMB Building on Tuesday.

Also present were CIMB Foundation Board of Trustees chairperson Tan Sri Datuk Seri Siti Norma Yaakob and Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) president Datuk Abdul Razak Latiff.

Abdul Razak is elated more companies are stepping forward to aid the development of tennis in the country.

“We’ve had a list of companies coming in this year mainly Prudential, Allianz and now CIMB.

“It’s a breath of fresh air as the money will certainly help ease the burden of the players and allow them to play in more tournaments overseas,” said Abdul Razak.

LTAM will open their doors for Ahmed to spar with the other national players during centralised training.

“Ahmed is free to spar with the other national trainees and if he sticks to his form, he’ll surely have a bright future in tennis.”



The Star had this a day earlier

KUALA LUMPUR: Thirteen-year-old Ahmed Deedat Abdul Razak has received monetary boost from the CIMB Foundation to help him in the pursuit of a professional tennis career.

Ahmed is now ranked 17th in the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) Under-14 circuit and the aim is for the Selangor lad to get among the top eight by the end of the year.

The foundation’s chairperson of the Board of Trustees, Tan Sri Siti Norma Yaakob, said that they were impressed with the talent, commitment and potential showed by Ahmed in winning numerous championships and titles over the past four years.

“We want to nurture his talent in the right direction,” said Siti Norma after signing a sponsorship agreement yesterday with Ahmed’s father Abdul Razak Mohd Yusoff.

Under the agreement, the foundation will provide RM132,720 for training and development programmes over the next six months.

Ahmed began competing in the national circuit in 2005. In the national junior rankings, he is the current number one in the boys’ Under-14 category.

Abdul Razak said the financial support from the foundation would further motivate his son to excel in the sport.

“I have secured the services of Filipino Ronald (Martin), an ex-Davis Cupper. With the guidance of Ronald, I believe my son will get among the top eight in the ATF Circuit by the end of the year,” he said.

Abdul Razak added that his son, who hopes to turn pro in five years’ time, would feature in 10 ATF Circuit tournaments, starting in Syria on Monday.





CIMB, as we are all fully aware, likes to associate themselves with winners. A case in point, squash queen-cum-CIMB ambassador, Nicol Ann David, who was recently conferred Darjah Bakti by Yang di-Pertuan Agong, DYMM Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin.

Malaysians in general must start thinking on making inroads in individual sports.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Football's Gene Hackman for KL



Luiz Felipe Scolari (pix AFP) will be making his second visit to Kuala Lumpur on July 29.

The last time he was here, the man who bears a slight resemblance to Gene Hackman was preparing Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Roberto Carlos and the rest for their Penta-stic world title.

Six years on Felipao will be heading Chelsea's travelling party to Shah Alam. He was early this morning confirmed as Avram Grant's successor at Stamford Bridge.

I wrote this for the Malay Mail in May 2002.

AS a player, Luiz Felipe Scolari was everything that Brazilian football is not.

So-so with the ball, tough rather than elegant, hard working than languid but always reliable.

There are few more high-pressure jobs in football than managing Brazil, the main advocates of jogo bonito with millions of football-mad fans who expect the samba kings to win every World Cup.

His idea for a World Cup victory in the upcoming edition in Korea/Japan would include variable tactics according to the opponents, physical training, the right to select the players and a winning attitude.

And the 53-year old has his own way of thinking things out - he makes it a point to do some brisk walking every day.

While the array of talented and multi-millionaire footballers trained at the National Sports Council (NSC) pitch at Bukit Jalil, Scolari was seen circling the warm-up track, with his assistant Antonio Lopes a loyal companion.

"Usually this is the time when Scolari discusses tactics and players with Lopes," said Sao Paulo-based journalist, Wagner Vilaron.

"He has much thinking to do. He does this almost everyday.

"It is routine for him. Sometimes he walks in the morning, sometimes in the evening."

Felipao or Big Phil, as he is known back home, is not exactly the darling of Rio de Janeiro.

Scolari's decision to drop Romario from the final 23 was seen as a big sin by the fans.

Purists too criticised his idea of modelling his 2002 team after Carlos Alberto Parreira's Brazil in 1994 than Mario Zagallo's Brazil 1970.

"This goes against our nature," noted one journalist.

Under fire or his over-aggressive style, Scolari has already announced his intention to resign when the World Cup campaign is over regardless of the outcome.

Still he has plenty to think about between now and the World Cup.

Married with two boys, Scolari yesterday toyed with the idea of taking his players for a swim at the National Aquatic Centre.

A slight drizzle forced a change of plans.

The players had disembarked yesterday morning and two hours after their arrival, they were already in training.

Scolari's main concern is the reaction of the players to the time difference of time, not Malaysia whom they meet on Saturday.

Surely the historic rendezvous at the National Stadium is a mere walk on the park for Scolari and Co
.


I look forward to meeting Big Phil again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thailand to host CYC



THAILAND is set to take over from Malaysia as hosts of the controversial Champions Youth Cup (CYC).

The legal wrangle between CYC promoter Gifted Group Limited and the Sports Ministry, however, has yet to be settled.

Thankfully the present Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob is a legal eagle. Then again, so was his immediate predecessor, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who claimed the Cabinet Committee on Sports Development approved the CYC.

But I doubt very much the terms of reference of the Cabinet Committee chaired by Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak entail among others the right to approve an international event held in Malaysia!

Now...how to recoup or save the RM12 million disbursed by the Ministry to the promoter?

Add another RM17 million paid as staging rights for last year's inaugural edition, the Malaysian Government have spent RM29 million for CYC alone!

I wonder if the Thai government is as generous when recession is looming...

Can you identify them?



I don't know whose picture does this belong to but I know each and every single one of the players.

Their bragging rights - they were the last Malaysian squad to win the gold medal at the SEA Games.

Watch this space...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A radio channel for youth?

There is talk that the Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob will be launching a radio station specifically for youth soon. It could be called Radio Belia. Sports has enough publicity as it is.

A headache for Domenech



I wrote this piece for the Malay Mail with anger on June 14, 2006 minutes after France drew 0-0 with Switzerland in their opening World Cup match two years ago.


THE city of Stuttgart deserved better. As a source of auto engineering par excellence, the script was for footy fans, French or otherwise, to sit back and enjoy the ride.

After all, on parade were the millionaire monsieurs from France. Zidane, Henry, Gallas, Thuram, Ribery, Saha, Wiltord, Vieira, names that demand respect, just as many oohs and aahs you get when a Mercedes Benz or a Porsche tear around the streets of Manila or Jakarta.

Yet in a city totally imbued with class, panache and finesse, the world was treated to Germany 2006's most boring match thus far.

The French fluffed their lines, while Switzerland were equally guilty of contributing to a match bereft of inspiration and ultimately, a goal.

Then again, it's basically deja vu for the French.

They have to hark back to their landmark year of 1998, when France were
helmed by a more sensible coach, playing in their own backyard, with Jacques Chirac and Michel Platini perched on the VIP box, for the feeling of ecstasy of having found the net.

Since Emmanuel Petit's left-footed shot glided past the despairing dive of Taffarel, France have gone eight years without a goal in the World Cup.

But if you like all the moves, shimmies and nutmegs to end in shots aimed directly at the goalkeeper or wide off the mark, the clash at Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion was the one for you.

France seemed to think the objective of the game was to make things as difficult as possible, to make passes that go astray, or run the ball to the feet of the opposing defender. For their part, Switzerland were equally abysmal.

Raymond Domenech's team were basically an insult to the French sides of yore.

The Platini generation that captured the world's imagination in the 1980s might have missed out on the BIG ONE but at least they were heroic losers, captivating and creative in their approach.

The term free-flowing champagne football was a tribute to the Tricolores that lifted the 1984 European Championship title and the third spot in the Mexico World Cup in 1986 and fourth in Spain in 1982.

They had a world-class centre-back in Maxime Bossis, whose dribbling skills were hundred times better than that of Wiltord, a full-back, Manuel Amoros, who was equally adept on either flank with greater attacking instincts than Domenech's men put together, a tigerish Luis Fernandez winning virtually all the loose balls, a never-say-die Jean Tigana covering every inch of the pitch, Alain Giresse's delicate
touches, Dominique Rocheteau's mazy dribbles and above all Platini's nose
for goals.

While the teams of Michel Hidalgo and Henri Michel were vintage France, the 2006 version are pedestrian at best.

Henry, Arsenal's record-breaking goal-scorer but average with France, might like to point out his attempt, after a cutback from Ribery, hit Patrick Mueller's hand in the 38th minute last night but it appeared to be ball to hand.

What about his feeble attempt that rolled slowly into Pascal Zuberbuehler's hands with Ribery in space five minutes before the interval? No wonder Henry doesn't win those awards that Ronaldinho gets.

The ultimate insult for this French team is that even Aston Villa reject Didier Six, the left-footed wing wizard, who missed a penalty against the West Germans in the dramatic semi-final in Seville in 1982 but later could not last long at Villa Park, was good enough to walk into Domenech's starting 11.

* MM says: Not too late to give Domenech the boot.


Back to the present, well, Domenech's men were again a disappoinment in their Euro08 Group C opening tie.

The Romanians were well-organised, while the French lacked offensive inspiration. Is it premature to send Domenench to the guillotine? I don't know! Domenech and Makelele seemed to be radiating positive vibes at the mixed zone shortly after the match.

I made the mistake of underestimating Domenech (pic) two years ago and the French went on to play Italy in the final.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ahhh...the aroma of nasi lemak kopi O




Venue - Studio C, Sri Pentas.

Platform - Live breakfast talk show Nasi Lemak Kopi O.

Date: June 8, 2008

Time: 8.10am

Channel - TV9


There I was, wearing an old France strip (1994-95), stating on record that Germany would win the Euros.

Invited by who else but Wan Sab for a second time, I joined Aziz Desa, Yat and TV3 sports producer Mat Yusoff to talk about the ongoing European Championship in Austria and Switzerland.

Among others, I touched on the prospect of welcoming the emergence of new stars such as Karim Benzema, Mario Gomez and Alberto Aquilani as opposed to the established ones.

I suspected France would not win the title because they might fail to translate their technical superiority into goals, while Spain would remain perennial underachievers.

There was a question from the audience on England's absence and I categorically stated that they were not good enough to qualify let alone win it, while a caller opined the state of affairs of Malaysian football.

In response, I said I don't think Malaysian football would ever reach the heights attained by the 1972 and 1980 generations, first because of the climatic conditions, our society, the mentality of the players and the structure.

Then Aziz suddenly asked about the Champions Youth Cup, and I repeated what I said on RTM1 weeks earlier that it was due to the fact that the relevant parties did not give due respect to the FA of Malaysia.

"Kenapa?" asked Aziz. My retort: "Itu kena tanyalah bekas Menteri Belia dan Sukan."

I'm down for a slot with TV3 soon.

Soccerkids on TV3 part deux



I posted this on Apr 6...

I was honoured by the invite from TV3 to be a member of the panel of judges for the Soccerkids reality program back in December.

The show however only kicked off on TV in March 2008. It is on every Sunday at 7.30pm.

The ultimate game for the kids was a friendly with Japanese club side, Vissel Kobe.

The panel of selectors comprised FA of Malaysia technical director Robert Alberts, Lim Kim Chon, who was a member of the FIFA technical study group of the 2006 World Cup, national youth coach Aminuddin Hussein, TV3 sports editor Abu Bakar Atan and yours truly.

Our job was to pick the best player in each position.


The final episode was shown on Sunday, June 8, 2008.

It was sometime in December last year that this story appeared in the Malay Mail.

REMEMBER these names - Sufian Mat and Dhaanushan Raveenthiran.

Remember them because the duo could well be bossing the engine room for the future national football team.

The two lads, who have had the distinction of representing Malaysia in nternational tournaments such as the Saitama Invitational and the Danone Cup, stood out in TV3's Soccer Kids' highly anticipated match against Japan's Vissel Kobe at Petaling Jaya Stadium yesterday.

It was therefore not a surprise that Sufian, 11, was voted the best midfielder of the team by a panel of selectors comprising FA of Malaysia technical director Robert Alberts, Lim Kim Chon, who was a member of the FIFA technical study group of the 2006 World Cup, national youth coach Aminuddin Hussein, TV3 sports editor Abu Bakar Atan and The Malay Mail's Rizal Hashim.

Second in a family of five from Rantau Panjang, Kelantan, Sufian, whose mazy run into the box enabled Sharul Aiman Suhaimi to tap in the solitary goal the 42nd minute past Vissel netminder Junsei Fujita, dreams of donning the yellow and black strip one day.

"Football has always been on my mind since I was chosen to represent Kelantan in a tournament in Terengganu last year. I want to make a career out of football. My dream is to play for Malaysia at senior level," said Sufian who was voted the most valuable player of the game.

If Sufian stood out for his penetrative runs, nutmegs and dribbling skills against the Vissel side which had been playing together for three years, Klang lad Dhaanushan, 12, was captain personified with his organisational ability, range of passing and composure.

The best defender award went to right back Muhammad Irfan Zakaria, while Muhammad Aniis Ismail was chosen as the best goalkeeper. The best striker award went to Adam Aidil Iskandar Rosli. Each received a trophy and RM3,000 as well as a trip to Euro2008 to Austria and Switzerland. The coaches, led by Ong Kim Swee and Asri Ninggal, chose central defender, Muhamad Shahrul Hakim Rahim, as the Tiger Hero trophy winner.

Present to give away the prizes were group chief executive officer, Media Prima (television networks), Datuk Seri Farid Ridzuan, FA of Malaysia general secretary Lt Jen (R) Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad and TV3 general manager, entertainment, sports & recreation, Azhar Borhan.

Farid, who mooted the idea of Soccerkids, was kept on the edge of his seat throughout the match and did not dismiss the possibility of extending the programme for another year.

Equally excited was Azzuddin who said some of the players could be enrolled into the football programme at the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) next year.


I got this nice memento (pic) from Datuk Farid. So could there be light at the end of the tunnel for our football?