Friday, March 9, 2007

Still not good enough


THEY were a transformed side and looked headed for a win until a defensive
slip-up allowed Canada to edge them in the Azlan Shah Cup at the National
Hockey Stadium yesterday.
The young Malaysian side, who were outplayed 4-1 by New Zealand on
Friday, were leading 1-0 from a fourth minute S. Kuhan goal until defender
Chua Boon Huat made a weak clearance in the 55th minute.
The ball was intercepted by a Canadian forward and a goalmouth melee
ensued from which Ken Pereira equalised.
Malaysia suffered another setback a minute later when Suhaimi Ibrahim
was sent to the sin-bin for an off-the-ball infringement.
Malaysia no longer had a full team and this was cruelly exposed in the
65th minute when Sean Campbell met a cross from the right and tapped the
ball into goal for the winner.
But it was a different Malaysia that started the match. They were all go
from the starting whistle and Chairil Anwar epitomised their new-found
spirit when he made a diving attempt and bruised his lips in the fall.
Unlike the side that went down tamely to New Zealand on Friday, Malaysia
yesterday fought for every ball and pinned the Canadian side in their own
half for long spells.
It came as no surprise when Malaysia took the lead. From a well-planned
sortie, skipper Mirnawan Nawawi won a penalty corner in the fourth minute
and S. Kuhan had all the time to push the ball which grazed a Canadian
defender's leg and went into goal.
But the Malaysian game slackened and they started losing easy balls.
Canada won their first penalty corner in the 11th minute and Roslan
Jamaluddin made a superb save from the ensuing attempt but the ball had
touched Maninderjit Singh's legs.
A second penalty corner was awarded and Roslan delighted the fans again
when he dived full length to palm away what looked like a sure goal.
Unfazed, Malaysia fought back with quick counterattacks.
K. Logan Raj and Chairil Anwar worked their way along the left in the
20th minute but when they found the opening, neither was prepared to take
a shot and lost the ball instead.
In the 25th minute, M. Jiwa and Chua, who had a poor game against New
Zealand, were brought in and they invigorated the right flank which was
hardly moving.
The last 10 minutes of the first half belonged to Malaysia and they were
all over the Canadian defence but failed to increase the lead.
Malaysia kept up the pace in the second half and immediately after play
started Logan Raj's pass found Mirnawan in the Canadian semicircle.
Although he had Suhaimi Ibrahim with him, Mirnawan decided to go on his
He dribbled past three defenders before hammering the ball which crossed
the Canadian goal and missed going in by centimetres.
Then came the bungle in the 55th minute which Pereira exploited and
Campbell broke the hearts of Malaysia in the 65th minute.
MALAYSIA: Roslan Jamaluddin, Maninderjit Singh, Chua Boon Huat, Jiwa
Mohan, S. Kuhan, Nor Azlan Bakar, Chairil Anwar, Madzli Ikmar, Suhaimi
Ibrahim, M. Kaliswaran, K. Keevan Raj, Mirnawan Nawawi, K. Logan Raj,
Shaiful Azli, Nasihin Nubli, Badrul Hisham.
CANADA: Hari Kant, Mike Mahood, Ian Bird, Alan Brahmst, Wayne Fernendes,
Paul Wettlaufer, David Yule, Andrew Griffiths, Ken Pereira, Scott Smith,
Peter Milkovich, Bindi Kullar, Rob Short, Ronnie Jagday, Sean Campbell,
Rick Roberts.