Friday, August 27, 2010

Malaysia in unfamiliar territory

P W D L F A Pts
MALAYSIA 2 2 0 0 6 3 6
SCOTLAND 2 1 0 1 6 7 3
IRELAND 2 0 2 0 3 3 2
POLAND 2 0 1 1 2 3 1
FRANCE 2 0 1 1 7 8 1

THE Malaysian hockey team ventured into unfamiliar territory when they beat Scotland 3-1 to lead the Five Nation standings in France.
Malaysia, who edged Poland 3-2 earlier, have maximum points after two matches, and if they beat Ireland and France in the remaining matches, they will finally lay their hands on a gold medal after at least a decade.
But just like the match against Poland where they almost lost it in the second half, the match against Scotland was also a two half encounter.
Coach Stephen van Huizen made two changes from the first match by fielding goalkeeper S. Kumar and defender Baljit Singh (file pic), and both the players made sure the Scots were kept at bay.
Scotland are in the same group as Malaysia in the New Delhi Commonwealth Games. The other teams are Australia, India and Pakistan.
Malaysia raced to a early 2-0 lead within the first ten minutes with Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin scoring off a seventh minute penalty corner set-piece, while Hafifihafiz Hanafi scored in the 10th minute.
Razie Rahim converted a penalty corner in the 49th minute and Malaysia were comfortable 3-0 lead, but Scotland reduced the deficit in the 63rd minute off a Mark Ralph penalty corner.
“It was a better performance as the players kept their composure and frustrated Scotland. But more importantly the players were able to preserve the lead and build on it,” van Huizen.
However, van Huizen lamented on the lack of depth on the bench, which prevented him from making regular changes: “We do not have depth in the squad, so some players had to remain on the pitch longer than others.
“For instance Razie is one player that is consistent and intelligent when it comes to pacing himself in a given match. He is a vital clog in defence so I opted to keep him on the pitch for a longer duration than others.”