Tuesday, September 24, 2013

That nagging feeling...

MALAYSIAN juniors are on a roll in the Sultan of Johor Cup, but coach K. Dharmaraj has a nagging feeling that bothers his mind.
   His charges beat Argentina 4-2 and South Korea 5-1, which would have made any other coach satisfied, but not Dharmaraj.
   "I am proud of their achievements, but I have a nagging feeling that is disturbing my mind. I can't say what it is now, but will use the rest day today (yesterday) to sort it out," said Dharmaraj.
   When asked if his charges display was identical to the Junior Asia Cup squad which won gold: "Not there yet, that was a magical moment created by magical players. This batch of players are slowly getting to that level of display, and before the end of the Sultan of Johor Cup, I will know for sure."
    Malaysia play England today, and coach Jonathan Bleby is confident his side will rise from the 6-2 drubbing their received from Pakistan. The English also lost their first match against India 2-1.
    "Even in the huge defeat against Pakistan, the positive side is that we created nine penalty corners and there were many circle penetrations. This indicates that our attacking statistics are healthy.
   "Every team is using this tournament as a learning curve for the World Cup, and we will take home valuable lessons to prepare for New Delhi.
   "As for Malaysia, we played them recently when they came to England for a playing tour, and I must say that there are some very good players in the team.
   "However, we hope to rise from the two defeats starting with the Malaysian game," said Bleby.
   One Malaysian player, 20, and with 38 senior caps has not been impressive in the last two matches but he has his reasons.
   Firhan Ashaari, who had a fantastic Asia Cup in Ipoh recently, has been in the shadows: "When we played Argentina, it was my first match after a long time with the juniors, as I was training and playing with the senior side.
   "I was a little lost, and also very tightly marked in the second match against Korea. But after two matches, my game is opening up and there is more understanding with my team-mates.
   "I believe I will get back my striking form against England tomorrow (today)," said Firhan.
    Malaysia must beat England to make sure they avoid playing in the fifth-sixth bracket, as their next matches are uphill battles against tournament favourites Pakistan and India.


                                P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
PAKISTAN                2   2   0  0  9  2   6
MALAYSIA               2   2   0  0  9  3   6
INDIA                       2   2   0  0  5  3   6
ENGLAND                 2   0   0  2  3  8   0
ARGENTINA              2   0   0  2  4  7   0
S KOREA                   2   0   0  2  1  8   0

   TODAY -- Argentina v South Korea (4pm), Malaysia v England (6pm), India v Pakistan (8pm).
    Sept 26: England v Argentina (4pm), South Korea v India (6pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (8pm).
    Sept 28: Argentina v Pakistan (4pm), India v Malaysia (6pm), South Korea v England (8pm).
    Sept 20: Final and placing matches.