Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dream fixtures in Dublin

MALAYSIA have been handed a dream schedule in the Dublin Olympic Qualifiers from March 10-18, with both the tough matches slated in the end of the pool matches.
The national team will start against Chile, followed by Russia and Ukraine and maximum points and goals will be the order of the day.
After that, they will meet South Korea and finally hosts Ireland, and need to win at least one match to play in the final of the Qualifier.
“The fixtures were drawn based on ranking and since we are 13th in the world, we will meet the lower ranked teams first before South Korea and then the hosts.
“We must not only win all the three early matches but also score as many goals as possible so that we will end up playing in the final,” said Beng Hai.
And the fixtures will also see Malaysia have one rest day before playing Korea, and then another rest day before meeting Ireland which could decide the outcome of the Olympic dream.
The round-robbin format will see the top two teams playin in the final, and only the gold medallist will advance to the London Olympics.
For the record, Malaysia last played in the Olympics in Sydney 2000.
“Training started last week as I sharpen some areas which were lacking during the Champions Challenge I (in South Africa where Malaysia finished fifth).
“I am concentrating on strengthening several areas, in cluding the penalty corner battery,” said Beng Hai.
And with the Azlan Shah Cup postponed from February to the middle of the year, the team’s training schedule has to be re-structured.
“Since the Azlan Shah Cup has been postponed, I have been on the hunt for some friendly matches and so far only China has confirmed to play a series of friendlies from Jan 10-20.
“India are also interested, but we are still working on the dates as they will be hosting the Qualifier in New Delhi from Feb 18-26.”
MALAYSIAN FIXTURES: March 10 -- Malaysia v Chile; March 11: Malaysia v Russia; March 13: Malaysia v Ukraine; March 15: Malaysia v South Korea; March 17: Malaysia v Ireland.