Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stuck on unlucky 13th...

MALAYSIA'S world ranking does not reflect their true strength, as the unlucky 13th came about after a string of misfortunes and near-misses at the world stage.
  Defeats in the Invercargill World Cup Qualifier to New Zealand (2-1) and against Pakistan (2-0) in the Asian Games sealed the seniors fate.
  And it was further compounded when they failed at the Dublin Olympic Qualifier as they handed the final ticket to South Korea on a 3-2 defeat.
  New Zealand advanced to the World Cup, Pakistan to the Olympics and South Korea also to the Olympics -- courtesy of Malaysia's well known hospitality on the artificial pitch.
  As a result, Malaysia will be stuck at the unlucky 13th, as only teams who play in the World Cup, Olympics and Champions Trophy can break into the top-10 ranking.
   At the ongoing Azlan Shah Cup, Malaysia against showed that they have the stomach to challenge the best, but it is of no use, as the tournament does not offer International Hockey Federation (FIH) rankings as it is an Invitational which has survived 21 Editions.
   Britain, fourth, are followed by sixth-ranked South Korea, New Zealand (7th), Pakistan (8th), Argentina, (9th) and India (10th) as all of them have qualified for the Olympics and are assured of no lower than 12th after the July 27th tournament ends.
  That is why, the 1-1 draw against South Korea, and the 3-3 comeback against Britain should not be taken lightly, but as a positive sign that Malaysia are on the rise.
  The 3-2 defeat to India was also riddled with a tale of near-misses, as Faizal Saari was on his off day.
  The 20-year-old, who helped Malaysia win the Junior Asia Cup by scoring six goals, has placed more established strikers like Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Marhan jalil and Hafifi Hafiz in the shadows.
  And his brother Fitri is also showing signs in Ipoh that he will be the next Malaysian player to watch.
  Malaysia still have matches against Pakistan, New Zealand and Argentina where nine points can be harvested if they continue playing like they did against India.
  The unlucky 13th might just turn out to be their lucky charm in the Azlan Shah Cup, if the three remaining foes believe too much in rankings.
  WEDNESDAY: Argentina v India (4pm), Britain v New Zealand (6pm), Pakistan v Malaysia (8pm).
  MAY 31: Britain v South Korea (4pm), Pakistan v India (6pm), New Zealand  v  Malaysia (8pm).
  JUNE 2: South Korea v New Zealand (4pm), Britain v Pakistan (6pm), Argentina v Malaysia (8pm).