Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slow start a worrying factor..

MALAYSIA have been playing a game of two halves in the Olympic Qualifiers, and the lucky streak is that the fixtures had paired them against weaker sides in the opening matches at the University College Dublin grounds.
Today, they face another weak side Ukraine, and coach Tai Beng Hai must make sure that his charges play 70 minutes of hockey to not only win three points but also pile up goals.
Ireland had whitewashed Ukraine 12-0 on Sunday, and the national players must also strive to hit a double digit against the weakest side in the Qualifier.
"I think the problem is with warm-up before the match, which is not enough, and that is why we have been struggling in the first halves of both the matches," said 21-year-old Faizal Saari who has scored two goals thus far.
Goalkeeper S. Kumar also believed the same: "In Malaysia I only need to warm up for 15 minutes and I will be ready for the match, but here, even after 30 minutes, I am still a little stiff and it is difficult to move."
The Malaysian campaign is chugging along just fine, but the show of strength by Ireland is fast becoming a worrying factor.
The Irish have been relentless in both their penalty corners and also field attempts, while Malaysia have been heavily relying on penalty corners for goals.
Out of the 11 scored, only two were from field attempts while one from a penalty stroke and eight from penalty corners.
"We need the wins, and how the goals are scored does not matter. The penalty corner battery is working well, and hopefully, it keeps the momentum in the remaining matches," said Beng Hai.
For the record, Malaysia won a total of 16 penalty corners in the two matches, and all the attempts were direct flicks and not a single set-piece was used.
The secret weapon for Malaysia is Amin Rahim, who has been sparringly used by the coach as he is still recovering from a knee injury, but the seasoned campaigner has scored a total of four goals to keep the Malaysian dream afloat.