Sunday, July 13, 2008

A mountain to climb

INDIA have qualified fo the Junior Asia Cup semis from Group A. Pic: Stick2hockey
JAPAN are physically stronger, but national juniors coach V. Muraleedharan is not throwing down the gauntlet, and promised that his charges will battle till the end in the Junior Asia Cup in Hyderabad today (Monday).
Malaysia will be playing with a handicap, as Noor Khairul Azrain was suspended two matches after picking up a red card in the first match against Singapore, and so Malaysia can only register 15 players against Japan.
Japan have three points from their 9-1 drubbing of Sin gapore, and need only a draw to advance to the semi-finals, while Malaysia need an outright win to advance.
"The stakes are very high and I expect Japan to come charging at us from the whistle. So, we will hold back a little, and have to make sure all our counter attacks count," said Muraleedharan.
After watching video replays of the match against Sin gapore and India, Muraleedharan yesterday worked on some of the silly mistakes which led to goals.
"Both the Singapore goals, and the first India goal was a lapse in defense, and we had a work-out today (yesterday) and will be better prepared against Japan.
"Although the match will be 60-40 in favour of Japan, I still believe patience will take us through to the semi-finals," said Muraleedharan.
From Group A, India have snatched one slot, while the remaining will be a toss between Malaysia and Japan. And in Group A, Pakistan and South Korea look like the best bets to advance.

P W D L F A Pts
India 2 2 0 0 5 1 6
Japan 2 1 0 1 9 3 3
Malaysia 2 0 1 1 3 5 1
Singapore 2 0 1 1 3 11 1

P W D L F A Pts
S Korea 2 1 1 0 11 3 4
Pakistan 2 1 1 0 8 4 4
Bangladesh 2 1 0 1 7 9 3
Oman 2 0 0 2 2 12 0

RESULTS: GROUP B -- Bangladesh 7 Oman 1; Pakistan 3 South Korea 3.
TODAY (Monday): Group A -- Japan v Malaysia, India v Singapore; Group B: Pakistan v Bangladesh, South Korea v Oman.