REGIMENTAL: Malaysia’s inability to vary penalty corners costs them heavily in Asia CupMALAYSIA paid the price for being stereotype and regimental in their approach against India in their Asia Cup semi-final at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium on Friday.
The 2-0 defeat has now relegated Paul Revington's men to battle Pakistan for the bronze medal.
Stereotype to the hilt in penalty corners, all 25 that they won in the four matches in Ipoh were direct flick attempts by either Razie Rahim of Faizal Saari.
There was never a single set-piece attempt, which had resulted in many goals in previous tournaments including the World League Semi-finals.
And the fact that Malaysia have the services of drag flick coach Adel Fuentes of Argentina might have some influence on the decision to do away with indirect attempts, where normally the goals come after deflections from either Azlan Misron or Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin's sticks.
The team were also regimental in their attack, where the forwards kept missing sitters after receiving crosses from the right, or left.
There was never an attempt to change the attacking plan in the entire 70 minutes against India.
"Definitely disappointed with the outcome of the match, and even though we have already qualified for the World Cup, we were looking for the Asia Cup gold medal before starting against India.
"We missed too many chances, and were relegated to the bronze medal match for missing sitters," said Revington.
India coach Roelant Oltmans summed up the difference between his team and Malaysia.
"After South Korea beat Pakistan in the first semi-final, we knew to a certain degree that we had already qualified for the World Cup, well, unless Papua New Guinea or Samoa beat New Zealand and Australia to the Oceania Cup title.
"But I thought that is a different tournament and we had the Asia Cup semi-finals to play for after that. And I could sense in the pre-match meeting that my players wanted to win the semi-final badly, and they achieved it with precision attacking," said Roelant.
Precision was the word, as India scored off their first penalty corner, and the second attempt was a rare counter-attack break which caught all the outfield Malaysian players in the Indian half -- and goalkeeper S.Kumar was outnumbered.
On the other hand, at least 10 sitters came Malaysia's way, but the forwards bungled them all by taking wild shots and even wilder swings.
Yes, Malaysia have qualified for the Netherlands World Cup next year after a 12-year hiatus, but the buildup must start with the Asia Cup bronze today.
After which, Revington must prepare his team to avoid embarrassing hammerings, like the 6-0 against Germany in the World League.