Saturday, November 14, 2009
MALAYSIA earned their merit badge to play in the final of the World Cup Qualifier when they side-stepped 13th ranked China 3-0 in Invercargill, New Zealand yesterday.
The decisive win gave Malaysia a chance to play in the World Cup, provided they beat world number 8 New Zealand today.
Kelvinder Singh, rested much of the tournament, provided the spark in the second half, when he cooly deflected home a pass from Amin Rahim in the 37th minute.
The goal saw Malaysia raising the tempo to a maddening height, and a minute later, Kelvinder Singh was again on target but the China goalkeeper stopped him and the ball fell in Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin’s path.
Tengku, with his back facing the goal mouth, made a cheeky attempt between his legs, and beat China goalkeeper Rifeng Su.
China, shocked at the sudden transformation of Malaysia from a docile first half, to an attacking second half, started to crumble.
And the decisive third goal was scored by Nabil Fiqri in the 51st minute and Malaysia get their chance to redeem the 4-2 defeat against New Zealand in the pool match.
The stakes are high today, with the winner becoming the 11th team to qualify for the New Delhi World Cup, while the loser only a silver medallists..
Statistically, New Zealand are the superior team, but the unpredictable Malaysian side is capable of an upset.
Malaysia and New Zealand have played a total of 51 times, with the Kiwis winning 27, losing 12, and 12 matches ended as draws.
In total, the Kiwis have scored 105 against Malaysia, and were in the receiving end only 71 times.
Malaysian coach Tai Beng Hai was optimistic that his 16th ranked team will be able to beat a team which is eight rungs higher.
“We were not even expected to make the final, but here we are today. It is a totally new tournament, the final, and I believe my players are in the upward trend.
“We have nothing to lose, and I know my players are more confident when playing New Zealand than European sides,” said Beng Hai.
The coach made a good decision when he rested skipper Madzli Ikmar and fielded youngster Razie Rahim in defense to partner Jiwa Mohan, Amin Rahim and Baljit Singh.
Razie believes he will not disappoint in the final: “I am ready to stop the Kiwis as I roughly know what to expect as we have played them many times in recent months. The feeling is that, Malaysia will qualify for the World Cup.” said the 22- year-old.
Kelvinder Singh, 24, is also looking forward to score more goals: “I did not play much here because I was recovering from an ankle injury. But after giving my all against China, my ankle did not trouble me, and I will be at my best in the final.”
RESULTS: Malaysia 3 China 0, New Zealand 4 Austria 0, Scotland 2 Wales 1.
TODAY (Malaysian Time): Final -- Malaysia v New Zealand (10am); Third-Fourth: China v Scotland (7am); Fifth-Sixth: Austria v Wales (5am).
P W D L F A Pts
New Zealand 5 5 0 0 28 5 15
Malaysia 5 3 1 1 12 9 10
China 5 3 0 2 7 12 9
Scotland 5 2 0 3 8 16 6
Austria 5 1 1 3 7 11 4
Wales 5 0 0 5 5 14 0
The Southland Times
Hockey enjoys a devout following in Malaysia and this week three men have been tasked with the job of relaying information back home to fanatical fans.
TV3 reporter Al Shaiful Nazib Talib, his cameraman Ahmad Khairi Osman, and journalist Satwant Singh, who writes for The Malay Mail newspaper and two other blogs, have been among the busiest men at the week-long World Cup qualifier tournament in Invercargill.
It's an important one for Malaysia, who would desperately love to feature at the World Cup for the first time since 2002. The Malaysian men's side have been in a steady state of decline since winning silver at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games and desperately need to win this weekend's tournament to give the game a much needed lift back home.
"Hockey was popular in 1975, when we we hosted the World Cup," Singh said.
"Every kid wanted to play hockey. We had a revival at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. The failure to qualify for the Athens Olympics meant hockey took a turn for the worse."
Talib said there was plenty of interest in this week's qualifying tournament back in Malaysia with between 2 million and 5 million people following his hockey stories on the television news bulletin.
"The hope is so high. We want to qualify for the World Cup. Luckily, New Zealand helped us (on Thursday)," he laughed.
Hockey is the most popular sport in Malaysia behind football and badminton and Singh said a failure to qualify for the World Cup would leave Malaysians supporters heartbroken.
"There would be huge disappointment back home. Our target was to end up in the top 12 by this year. To be in the top 12 in the world, we have to play in the World Cup and we are not going to be in the World Cup."
The sport is well financed in Malaysia with players training fulltime and their every need catered for. Both Malaysians journalists believed that had to change in the future if they were to improve as a hockey nation.
"There was no such thing as fulltime training prior to 1998 ... In some countries, professionalism is not the way yet," Singh said.
He believed the national side could improve on their world ranking in the future with more players playing in the European and Australian leagues and experienced players staying on with the team rather than retiring once they hit 30 years of age.
Singh said a revamp of the whole Malaysian hockey system was also required.
"We can't keep doing the same things we've been doing the last 10 years. In order to take two steps forward, we have to take one step back ... and do away with fulltime training."
The Malaysian reporters were impressed with the Black Sticks at this week's tournament ands aid they had built a side that could realistically challenge for glory at the 2012 London Olympics and next year's World Cup – if they can qualify with a win tomorrow.
BDO World Cup Qualifier, Men – Invercargill, New Zealand
Results Day 5: Saturday 14 November 2009
Scotland v Wales 2:1 (0:0)
SCO 37mn Stephen DICK (FG) 1:0
SCO 51mn Mark RALPH (PC) 2:0
WAL 56mn Rufus MCNAUGHT-BARRINGTON (PC) 2:1
New Zealand v Austria 4:0 (3:0)
NZL 8mn Phil BURROWS (FG) 1:0
NZL 24mn Simon CHILD (FG) 2:0
NZL 29mn Priyesh BHANA (FG) 3:0
NZL 67mn Simon CHILD (FG) 4:0
China v Malaysia 0:3 (0:0)
MAS 37mn Kevinder SINGH (FG) 0:1
MAS 38mn Tengku JALIL (FG) 0:2
MAS 51mn Nabil NOR (FG) 0:3