Thursday, September 13, 2012
Heavy favoutites tag on Malaysian women..
PICTURE OF CALM: Siti Noor Amarina (left) and Fazilla Slyvester Silin
THE Malaysian women carry a heavy favourites tag to win gold in the First Round of the World League which starts in Kuantan today.
This is because they will battle with relatively easy teams - -Singapore, Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka -- over the next three days for a ticket to the tougher Second Round.
The newly formed World League will see teams from around the globe playing over four rounds for Olympic tickets.
“It may look easy but be rest assured that we are taking nothing for granted. Every match is like a final and each goal counts so there is no room for mistakes or complacency,” said Malaysian women’s coach Nasihin Nubli.
Malaysia play Singapore first: “I will field my best team for every match as this tournament does not provide an avenue for exposure as a place in the Second Round is at stake. And the format, a one round league, does not allow us the luxury of a second take.”
The Malaysian team had their first feel of the blue turf upon their arrival in Kuantan on Tuesday. And after the three training sessions, Nasihin feels that his players have already gotten used to the change of colour, both in terms of the pitch and ball.
“It was initially a strange feeling and it took the players some time to get used to it. But the pitch conditions are superb,” added Nasihin.
With sweeper Sebah Kari having retired from inter national duty, Nasihin said that changes will be made to their defense with skipper Nadia Rahman expected to play the sweepers role.
“It is Kazakhstan that worry me more as not much is known about them as the last time we saw them in action was in the 2010 Asian Games where we won 4-2. But looking at their team list, they have retained many from the Asian Games.”
The tournament would also be special to two Malaysian players, who will head for the Spanish League next month.
Siti Noor Amarina and Fazilla Slyvester Silin, both 25, have signed up to play for Castelldefels HC.
“I am looking forward towards Spain as I hope to gain experience and help Malaysia do well internationally,” said Amarina who made her national team debut at the Asia Cup in New Delhi in 2004.
Amarina, who from Penang, is currently pursuing a degree in Physical Education at Universiti Putra Malaysia. She has 93 caps to her credit and lists the win over South Africa in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne as her best moment in hockey.
As for Fazilla, a striker, scoring goals for Malaysia in the tournament is the task that she intends to accomplish to ensure a top finish for her team.
“Though I am expected to score goals, it is a team effort and the end result is what matters for me,” said Fazilla who hails from Mukah, Sarawak.
Fazilla, with 62 caps, made her debut in the 2007 Sea Games in Korat and it was in that tournament that she scored her first international goal.
TODAY: Sri Lanka v Kazakhstan (4pm), Malaysia v Sin gapore (6pm).
Tomorrow: Singapore v Sri Lanka (4pm), Kazakhstan v Malaysia (6pm).
Sunday: Singapore v Kazakhstan (4pm), Malaysia v Sri Lanka (6pm).