Sunday, January 25, 2015

Malaysia hammer Poland 8-0 for WL gold,,,

MALAYSIA went for an early kill and it worked wonders as they snatched the World League Round Two gold medal by outclassing Poland 8-0 at the Sengkang Stadium in Singapore yesterday.
   Coach Tai Beng Hai's players had already claimed a ticket to the World League Semi-finals in Belgium in June, when they beat Japan in the semi-finals, but they went a step further to win Malaysia's only second gold medal in an International Hockey Federation (FIH) tournament.
   This gold was much more precious as the earlier one was won at a Five-Nation in Paris in 2010.
   There was never a moment, in the first two quarters, that Poland looked like they recovered from the third minute penalty corner drive by Faizal Saari to claim the lead.
   Malaysia took command of the match after that and two more penalty corner goals by Razie Rahim in the seventh and 21st minutes eased the pressure on the backline.
   Faizal Saari, after missing three one-on-one with the goalkeeper, finally sounded the board in the 33rd minute to make it 4-0.
   Poland were totally outclassed in the 42nd minute, when Nabil Fiqri shot home a reverse stick, and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin made it 6-0 with another reverse stick attempt in the 48th minute.
    For good measure, Haziq Shamsul nailed the seventh in the 54th minute, and Razie nailed his hat-trick with a last minute penalty corner drive.
    There was overall drive and determination, as Beng Hai started with an attacking forwardline of Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Firhan Ashaari and Faizal Saari -- and they threw caution to the wind with wave after waves of attacks to the delight of a capacity crowd of 2,000-odd fans.
   The other delight of this tournament is that Malaysia won all their matches convincingly, except for the 1-1 draw with Japan in the semi-finals which had to be decided in a shoot-out.
    "This is the kind of performance that we have been looking for from the players, and they were simply magical against Poland.
    "The MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) had targeted for them to play in the final, but we are very proud of them because they went one step further and claimed a crucial gold medal, which has eluded Malaysia for a very long time," said team manager Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad, who is also the MHC vice-president.
   Malaysia entered the tournament as the highest ranked team, num 12, and lived up to their billing.
   "We need to work on certain areas in the run-up to the WL Semi-finals (which offers tickets to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics)  like fitness, so that we can be back in the Olympic fold, which we last played in Sydney 2000," said Nur Azmi.
   In the third-fourth placing match, Japan were made to sweat by Oman befor beating them 4-0 to claim the bronze medal which also came with the last ticket to the World League Semi-finals, and Japan are expected to play in the Argentina qualifier.
   RESULTS: Final: Malaysia 8 Poland 0; Third-Fourth: Japan 4 Oman 0; Fifth-Sixth: Bangladesh 1 Ukraine 3; Seventh-Eighth: Singapore 4 Mexico 3.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Malaysia qualify for WL Semifinals in Belgium

MALAYSIA were a pathetic side but were saved the blushes by goalkeeper S. Kumar, who took them into the final of the World League Round Two by making super saves in the penalty shoot-out at the Sengkang Stadium in Singapore yesterday.
   The score stood at 1-1 after the final whistle, and in the shoot-out Malaysia won 3-2 thanks to Kumar, who made three super saves.
   The Tampin-born Kumar's heroics also saw Malaysia qualify for the World League Semi-final in Belgium in June, as three tickets are on offer in Singapore.
    Marhan Jalil scored an early field goal, by a solo effort in the fifth minute, and the crowd were baying for more Japan blood, but it never came.
   Instead, the Japanese grew in confidence and were unlucky not to have won the match in regulation time. Kenta Tanaka equalised in the 15th minute to take the match to a shoot-out.
    Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Missed, Izwan Firdaus missed, but Malaysia were kept in the hunt as Kumar brought out three saves.
    Faizal Saari, Firhan Ashaari and Fitri Saari delivered for Malaysia in the shoot-out and now they will play Poland for the gold medal today.
   In the other semi-finals, Poland beat Oman 7-1.
   "We have achieved the target set by MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) which was to play in the final, and now, we will be after my as well as my players target which is to win gold in this tournament," said Malaysian coach Tai Beng Hai.
   Beng Hai rued four attempts which hit the post: "Three penalty corners and a field attempt hit the post and bar, and that made our task much harder. However, we had four easy matches before this and we were brought down to earth in the semi-finals.
   "I see this as a blessing before be take on Poland for the gold. We did play Poland in a few friendlies in Bukit Jalil before coming to Singapore, but that was with a different structure, and now the team is playing differently and we will go for the gold," said Beng Hai.
   In Kuala Lumpur, Poland drew 4-4 and then won 4-3 in the friendlies, but as the tag applies, it were just friendlies.
   Malaysia have played Poland 25 times, won 15 , drew 5 and lost 5. We have scored 61 and conceeded 37 goals. The last encounter was at the 2012 Champions Challenge in Argentina where Malaysia won 4-0. 
   Japan coach Kang Keon-Wook summed up the match: "Malaysia were unlucky in the four quarters as they hit the post and bar four times, but were lucky that they have a very good goalkeeper in the shoot-out (Kumar).
  RESULTS: Semi-finals -- Malaysia 1 Japan 1 (Malaysia win 3-2 in penalty shoot-out); Poland 7 Oman 1.
   Sunday...Final: Malaysia v Poland (8pm); Third-Fourth: Japan v Oman (5.30pm); Fifth-Sixth: Bangladesh v Ukraine (3pm); Seventh-Eighth: Singapore v Mexico (9am)

Japan play underdogs

JAPAN coach Kang Keon-Wook played down his team's chances against Malaysia in the semi-finals of the World League Round Two at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium in Singapore today.
   The Korean, who led his team to a silver medal in the Sydney 2000 Olympics, felt Malaysia are a totally different side from the one which he saw in action last year.
   Even though Malaysia beat Japan 4-1 in the Asian Games last year, Kang was really impressed with the progress made by the national players since.
   The other factor for the Korean to claim the underdogs tag is because he had to make eight changes to his Asian Games side due to injuries to key players.
   "I believe Malaysia will be our toughest opponents in this tournament as they have improved so much since I last saw them at the Asian Games. There is more understanding, and the players give their all in every match and this can be seen from the impressive scorelines," said Kang.
    Japan were beaten 3-2 by Poland in Group B, while Malaysia enter the semi-finals with a perfect record after whacking Ukraine 5-1, Oman 7-0, Singapore 16-1 and Mexico 10-1.
   Kang's men beat Bangladesh 5-1, Mexico 6-0 and Ukraine 5-0 to play in the semis.
   "The biggest problem with Japan, since I took over for the last two years, is the constant changes in players every few months due to injury, club commitment and also early retirement. I had to select eight new players for this tournament because many of the best picked up injuries playing in the local league.
   "You can see from the scoreline, Malaysia are really playing well. But then again, we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain in this match, so we will not make it easy," said Kang.
   Malaysia must beat Japan to claim an early ticket to the World League Round Two, even though three are in offer in Singapore.
   Malaysian coach Tai Beng Hai is optimistic his charges will not let the country down: "As usual the instructions will be not to take any team lightly and Japan can be dangerous if we allow them space. We need to score early goals to douse the fire, and I am confident the forward-line will make the chances count."
   That is the biggest problem with the team right now, as the forward-line has missed too many sitters even though the opponents were nothing to shout about thus far.
   In the worse case scenario, if Malaysia lose against Japan today, they still have the bronze medal to fight for and their highly likely opponents are Oman, as Poland are tipped to sail into the final.
  RESULTS: Fifth-Eighth -- Mexico 2 Ukraine 4; Bangladesh 3 Singapore 0.
  Jan 24: Semi-finals -- Malaysia v Japan (3pm); Poland v Oman (5.30pm).

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Malaysia cruise past Mexico 10-1..Japan next

MALAYSIA cruised into the semi-finals of the World League Round Two after they whitewashed Mexico 10-1 at the Sengkang Stadium in Singapore yesterday.
   Playing under a blazing 9am sun, and witnessed by eight ticket-paying fans, coach Tai Beng Hai's men missed 10 chances, but made the other 10 count to claim the favourites tag in the tournament.
   Malaysia will play Japan in the last-four, after players from the Land of the Rising Sun beat Ukraine 5-0 in the other quarters.
   And in the other last eight matches, Poland hammered Singapore 8-0; while Oman and Bangladesh played to a 3-3 draw but Oman won 2-0 in a penalty shoot-out.
   Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin started the goalcount in the fourth minute and went on to score three more in the 30th, 31st and 48th. The other goals were scored by Faizal Saari (14th), Razie Rahim (16th), Firhan Ashaari (19th), Izwan Firdaus (40th), Izad Jamaluddin (44th) and Haziq Shamsul (54th).
   The Mexico consolation was scored by Andres Range in the 24th minute.
   For the record, Malaysia's only other match against Mexico was at the 1968 Olympics, where the hosts were beaten 1-0 in the 15th-16th classification match.
   "We did miss many chances but that could be due to playing so early in the day as we had to wake up at 5am to prepare for the match. The blazing sun did not help either, as we missed many sitters but still, the scoreline is a big boost ahead of the crucial semi-finals," said Malaysian coach Tai Beng Hai.
   The national players beat Ukraine 5-1, Oman 7-0, Singapore 16-1 and Mexico 10-1 for an impressive 38 goals scored and three let in.
    "It has been a very good tournament so far, but Japan will not be easy as they have a better structure and  can be deadly if we do not score early to douse their fire. However, we are here to play in the final, and Japan can be beaten," said Beng Hai.
   The only casualty yesterday was Firhan Ashaari who received a cut on his cheeks and was rushed to the hospital, but with a rest day before the semis, he is expected to be back on the pitch to help Malaysia beat Japan.
    Three teams from Singapore will qualify for the World League Semi-finals, and Malaysia need to beat Japan and book their ticket early and not wait for the third-fourth placing match to qualify. The WL Semi-finals is the last shot for teams to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
    Singappore have been a miserable host so far, as teething problems are still persistent for teams even though it has reached the knock-out stage.
    Firhan's injury opened another can of worms as the hosts did not have an ambulance on standby and asked for S85 to call one from a nearby hospital: "This is ridiculous as when Malaysia host a tournament we provide medical care and do not charge for teams for an ambulance ride. And when we complained to the tournament director he just shook his head in disbelieve. In the end, the ambulance never came and we took Firhan to the hospital in a taxi," said a Malaysian official.
    Another good news yesterday was that Malaysia moved up a notch in the world and are now num 12, while their semis opponents Japan dropped from 14 to 15. The other potential finalist Poland remained at 18th.
     Malaysia have the best chance to win gold in Singapore, and advance to the World League Semi-finals at either Belgium or Argentina which offer tickets to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, a platform where Malaysia last played in Sydney 2000.
    Meanwhile, the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) will hold their Annual General Meeting on Feb 13, with nominations closing on Feb 2.

World League Results Day 5


                          P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
Malaysia       3   3    0   0  28  2  9
Oman             3   2    0   1  5  10  6
Ukraine          3   1    0   2  4  8  3
Singapore    3   0    0   3  4  21  0

                     P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
Poland       3   3    0   0  14  2  9
Japan         3   2    0   1  13  4  6
B'ladesh    3   1    0   2  7  11  3
Mexico       3   0    0   3  1  18  0

  RESULTS: Group A: Malaysia 5 Ukraine 1, Oman 3 Singapore
2; Group B: Japan 5 Bangladesh 1, Poland 6 Mexico 0.

  Jan 18: Group B: Bangladesh 5 Mexico 1, Poland 3 Japan 2.
  Jan 19: Group A: Ukraine 2 Singapore 1, Oman 0 Malaysia

  Jan 20: Group A: Ukraine 1 Oman 2, Malaysia 16 Singapore
1; Group B: Japan 6 Mexico 0, Bangladesh 0 Poland 5.

  Jan 21: REST DAY

  Jan 22: Quarter-finals:  Malaysia 10 Mexico 1; Japan 5 Ukraine 0; Oman 3 Bangladesh 3 (Oman beat Bangladesh 2-0 in penalty shoot-out); Poland x Singapore (8pm). 

  Jan 23: Fifth-Eighth -- Mexico v Ukraine (3pm); Bangladesh v Singapore (5.30pm).

  Jan 24: Semi-finals -- Malaysia v Japan (3pm); Poland v Oman (5.30pm).

  Jan 25: Final and placing matches.