Friday, May 31, 1996

Problems aplenty: Knee injury puts Karthekayan out (The Malay Mail)

DISASTER has struck just when things were looking up for Kuala Lumpur
defender G. Karthekayan.
Karthekayan, making a late debut in the M-League this season, suffered a
knee injury in Wednesday morning's training session at the City Hall
He came on as a substitute on four occasions before being named among
the first 11 on Saturday night against Pahang. He did well enough for
coach Chow Kwai Lam to consider keeping him in the starting team against
Terengganu in Kuala Terengganu tomorrow.
Karthekayan came in as a stopper to replace the suspended Zefus Othman
against Pahang and was all excited about finally breaking into the first
team after much hard work.
But yesterday morning he was a picture of dejection and pain.
His worst fears were confirmed by the orthopaedic surgeon - a meniscus
and medial ligament tear.
Karthekayan underwent arthroscopic surgery yesterday afternoon and is
out for three to four weeks.
"I cannot believe my luck. I make the first 11 and the next moment I
suffer this injury," said Karthekayan, who injured his knee when he fell
awkwardly in training.
Kwai Lam was equally disappointed.
"He did well against Pahang and I had plans for him against Terengganu,
especially with Zefus still suspended," said Kwai Lam.

Tuesday, May 28, 1996

England have a ball (The Malay Mail)

Reporting from Hong Kong
THE way the players were partying on Sunday night you would have thought
England had just won the European soccer championships.
All they had really won was a friendly against a Hong Kong club side -
Golden XI - in their build-up for the championships starting in England on
June 8.
But that did not stop them from having a grand time at the Hong Kong
Jump Restaurant & Bar.
England's tour of China and Hong Kong has been heavily critised but the
players had enough reason to party.
For starters, they were having a few days off after playing Hong Kong
and also it was Paul Gascoigne's 29th birthday yesterday.
England manager Terry Venables had imposed a ban on alcohol consumption
on his players upon arrival in Hong Kong on Friday evening.
The ban over, champagne flowed freely yesterday and the players partied
until 2am.
By the time they left, many did not have anything on their backs and
happily put on the Jump T-shirt given to them.
Gascoigne, who did not play against Hong Kong because of a groin
infection, certainly showed no signs of pain as he danced the night away.
The English team left for home yesterday evening and will rest a few
days before their last leg of preparations.

Saturday, May 25, 1996

Men of substance (The Malay Mail

HONG KONG: Denmark's Poul Erik Hoyer-Larsen and Peter Rasmussen have
turned out to be the strongest players mentally in the Thomas Cup finals.
They showed it again in their semifinal victory over China yesterday at
the Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
There's a difference of a decade between Hoyer-Larsen, who turns 31 on
Sept 20, and Rasmussen, 22 on Aug 2, but they play with almost the same
level of maturity, composure and determination - something conspicously
absent in the Malaysian players.
Experienced Hoyer-Larsen, who studied psychology to improve his game,
made a superb comeback from 1-13 down in the second set after losing the
first 15-6 to world no 1 Dong Xiong 18-17. The Dane went on to win 6-15,
18-17, 15-11.
Rasmussen, who entered the courts knowing Denmark's passage to the final
depended on him with the score at 2-2, upset Lin Liwen 15-12, 15-3.
It is all very simple for the Danes.
Rasmussen explained: "I just went in there and gave my best.
"Morten (Frost) told me he does not care if I lost or won, so long as I
gave my best.
"I am gald my best was good enough to give us the winning point," said
Rasmussen, who is making his Thomas Cup debut.
He also clinched the winning point against Korea in the Group match.
And now, Rasmusssen is looking forward to the final against Indonesia
with great hope of creating history.
"It could again come down to me for the crucial point. I am just going
to treat it as another game and give my best."
Rasmussen could play either Alan Budi Kusuma or Ardy Wiranta.
He has lost thrice and won once against Alan.
Hoyer-Larsen said he was lucky to beat Dong Xiong.
"I was on the brink of defeat at 1-13 in the second set but never gave
up. I just kept going and it worked for me," said Hoyer-Larsen.
"It has been a long time since I played the way I did and coming just
before the Atlanta Olmypics it is simply great."
He cited the time at the Singapore Open in 1990 when he down 2-13 in the
second set after losing the first against Alan Budi Kusuma but went on to
win 18-16. In the rubber he was down 1-12 but came back to win 18-15.
At the World Grand Prix in 1989, he achieved a similar feat when he
defeated England's Steve Butler coming from behind.
"Lady Luck was with me," he said.
But it has more to do than with just luck and Hoyer-Larsen admitted
mental strength played a crucial part in his victory.
"Sometimes things don't go according to our plans. But we have to be
mentally strong to believe in ourselves and work our way back. We also
have to consider our options under prressure. That also means taking
"Today (yesterday) I was simply not moving in the first set and for a
major part of the second. When I got going it was a little late. But I
just believed in myself and said nothing was impossible.
"I am glad it worked for me and I hope I will have a better outing in
the final to give Denmark a realistic chance of winning the Thomas Cup."
Coach Morten Frost was full of praise for Hoyer-Larsen and said only
Hoyer-Larsen could have achieved a feat like that.
"Hoyer-Larsen is the world's best comeback artist. It is not easy and
nobody wants to be in that kind of situation. But the point is he can make
that kind of recovery even when his game lets him down."
It is a delight to watch players like Hoyer-Larsen and Rasmussen
displaying so much mental strength and triumphing against the odds.

THOMAS CUP (S-finals)
Denmark 3 China 2: Poul Erik Hoyer Larsen bt Dong Jiong 6-15, 18-17,
15-11; Jon Holst Christensen-Jim Laugesen lost to Jiang Xin-Huang
Zhanzhong 12-15, 7-15; Thomas Stuer Lauridsen lost to Sun Jun 5-15, 8-15;
Henrik Svarrer-Michael Sogaard bt Ge Cheng-Tao Xiaoqiang 15-8, 17-15;
Peter Rasmussen bt Lin Liwen 15-12, 15-3.
Indonesia 3 Korea 2: Joko Suprianto bt Park Sung Woo 18-17, 15-1; Ricky
Subagja-Rexy Mainaky bt Ha Tae Kwon-Kang Kyung Jin 15-10, 15-7; Alan Budi
Kusuma bt Lee Kwang Jin 15-6, 15-9; Antonius-Denny Kantono lost to Park
Joo Bong-Kim Dong Moon 0-15, 5-15; Ardy Wiranata lost to Ahn Jae Chang 8-
15, 3-15.

Friday, May 24, 1996

Grabo and Co play England (The Malay Mail)

Reporting from Hong Kong
THREE players familiar to Malaysian fans will be in Hong Kong's Golden 11
who play England in a friendly for the Century Challenge Cup on Sunday.
The three - Anto Grabo, Alen Bajkusa and Marlon van der Sander - used to
play for Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Terengganu respectively in the Premier
England played China yesterday and another against Hong Kong as part of
their run-up to the European championships in England next month.
Grabo and van der Sander play for Golden in the Hong Kong Div 1 League
while Bajkusa, who plays for South China Athletic Association, is a guest
Golden have also invited former England international and current
Everton captain Dave Watson. He arrived in Hong Kong on Monday and played
in a friendly against the J-League's Urawa Red Diamonds on Tuesday. Golden
won 1-0.
Golden have also invited goalkeeper Iain Hesford, who plays for Eastern
in the Hong Kong League, to complete their line-up.
Golden have another four foreigners with them, including former Engand
player Michael Duxbury.
Grabo, 35, who played a season for KL four years ago, said: "We have
incentives from individual sponsors for the match."
He said the sponsors have put up HK$200,000 if they score one goal
against England, HK$500,000 for two and HK$1 million for three.
"There is no offer yet for a win over England but we can expect a
windfall," he said.
Grabo said their match allowances will also depend on the margin of
defeat or victory.
Grabo have beaten Chelsea 2-1 and Brazil's Sao Paulo 4-2. They lost to
Italy's AC Milan 2-1.
England are expected to arrive in Hong Kong from China this evening.
They will have a practice session at the Hong Kong Stadium tomorrow
For security reasons, England's place of stay has been kept a secret.
There will be no airport reception or interviews besides the photo
session during their practice session followed by a press conference at
the stadium itself with Venables and a few selected players.

Tuesday, May 21, 1996

Bet on the Danes (The Malay Mail)

Reporting from Hong Kong
FORMER Indian ace PRAKASH PADUKONE presents his views to Mailsport on
today's showdown between Malaysia and Denmark.
The former All-England champion, who last played for India in the 1988
Thomas Cup qualifer, is in Hong Kong as a freelance journalist for the
Hindu and Sports Times.
I SEE Denmark as having the edge, say 60-40. They are in good form now.
Denmark should secure victory in two singles and one doubles for a 3-2
win. Or they may even sweep all three singles and one double for a 4-1
Malaysia are under tremendous pressure to win the match and in
convincing fashion too.
A 3-2 margin may not even be good enough. The Malaysians must be strong
mentally for the challenge.
Should Malaysia rise to the occasion, I think they can only take one
singles and two doubles.
The bottom line is that the odds favour the Danes.

First Singles: Rashid Sidek v Paul Erik Hoyer-Larsen.
This match should go Larsen's way based on current form. He is a very
stable player who is mentally and physically strong. Above all it is
difficult to break arsen's game.
Rashid is unpredictable. If he is on song, he could give Larsen a run
for his money.
But I still do not see him defeating Larsen who packs solid defence
unlike Rashid who can commit a lot of errors when under pressure.
Rashid's game is also very predictable and with little variation. He
will have problems.
It will take a lot for Rashid to spring a surprise.
First Doubles: Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock v Jon Holst-Christiansen-
Thomas Stavngaard. Thomas Lund may come in as a surprise replacement.
Word has it that Thomas Lund is in town. But then, why was he not
fielded against the Koreans on Sunday? But even if he plays, I don't think
Lund will be in good shape because it would be his first match in Hong
Kong and he might not be familiar with the conditions.
In anycase, whether he partners Holst Christensen or not, I think this
doubles match belongs to Cheah and Yap.
Holst-Christensen and Stavngaard certainly have not been impressive and
it will even easier for the Malaysian pair if the duo play. It might be
slightly more difficult with Lund playing, but I still give Malaysians the
SECOND SINGLES: Ong Ewe Hock v Thomas Stuer Lauridsen
The Malaysian camp will be counting on Ong's fighting qualities to pull
off an upset.
I can say it is all the way uphill.
Ong had done well to beat Korea's Lee Kwang Jin but Lauridsen is in a
different class.
For starters, Ong will be starting at a disadvantage because of his
small stature against the much taller Lauridsen.
Lauridsen will definitely have the edge. As Ong is a defensive player
who lacks attacking qualities, it will be hard for him to trouble the
Ong may have strong stamina and determination but I don't think that
will be enough.
The only way for Ong to beat his opponent is to tire Lauridsen out.
Lauridsen's fitness is suspect having just returned to the game after a
series of injuries. And if the injuries act up, he could be in trouble.
But Lauridsen showed good fitness against Kwang Jin despite being
strectched to three sets.
This tie should go to the Dane.
SECOND DOUBLES: Soo Beng Kiang-Tan Kim Her v Henrik Svarrer-Michael
Although Malaysia are banking on this tie to provide a point, this could
be a touch and go affair.
Svarrer-Sogaard looked impressive despite their loss to Park Joo Bong
and Kim Dong Moon.
The Danes look much capable of giving Beng Kiang-Kim Her a run for their
money. The Malaysian pair will have to hit top form to win.
Furthermore, the pressure will be on the Malaysians because overall
Malaysia are in a critical situation where they can't afford to win in
rubber games.
This tie could well go into three setters with either pair winning.
If the Danes triumph, it will be all over for Malaysia but if Soo-Tan
clinch this one, the third singles next will most probably be the decider.
THIRD SINGLES: Pang Chen v Peter Rasmussen
This one should go hands down to Peter Rasmussen. And I am not saying
this because Pang Chen looked bad against Ahn Jae Chang earlier.
I am more impressed by Rasmussen's form and I think he is the most
exciting player in this tournament.
The young Dane is improving with each match and he is definitely in the
footsteps of Larsen.
Although he was known to be a temperamental player, he looks more
composed these days.
Rasmussen has great determination with a lot of fire in him and whether
Pang Chen can handle that is left to be seen.
But I personally feel that Rasmussen will be too hot for Pang Chen to