Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Close shave for team manager Mirnawan Nawawi in New Delhi..
THE national juniors had a fantastic acclimatation practice in the three-test series against India at the World Cup
venue, and lost narowly 2-1 to the potential medallists at the Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi on Monday night.
Coach K. Dharmaraj's side lost all three matches, but there was improvement in every department in the 4-2, 4-3
and then the one-goal defeat in the last match.
The team are in their final phase of preparations for the World Cup, on Dec 6-15, where they are grouped with
England, New Zealand and South Africa in Group D.
India, Netherlands, South Korea and Canada are in Group C, and the hosts are potential cross-over opponents in
the quarter-finals stage.
"In the last match, the boys did not conceede any penalty corners, and won five instead. But again, poor shooting
in the semi-circle was the bane, while India were sharp with the handful of chances that came their way," said team
manager Mirnawan Nawawi.
The venue acclimation provided the players an opportunity to get used to the pitch lighting, as well as the bouncy
condition of the pitch.
"The ball bounces differently on Pitch I, and also Pitch II, and the players finally got adjusted to the conditions in
the third test, but a late surge from India denied Malaysia a well-deserved draw. Also, the lighting is very different
from what we have in Malaysia, especially when the players look up to stop overhead balls. But after three matches,
the players now know what to expect when they play there again during the World Cup," said Mirnawan.
Ramandeep Singh gave India the lead in the 18th minute, but Haziq Samsol scored a field goal to equalise in the
65th minute. However, Malak Singh scored the winner for his side in the 67th minute.
India fielded the Sultan of Johor Cup gold medal side, with only three changes. Malaysia were soundly beaten 3-0
then, but have shown improvement in the three-test series.
There was some good play by the Malaysian side, only to lose out on poor shooting. An example to moot was in
the second half when Fitri Shaari penetrate the middle of the field and beat three Indian defenders, after which he
released the ball to Shahril Saabah whose deflection was just inches wide.
"A few decisions of the umpire were suspect especially in the semi-circle, however with the video referral
available during the World Cup, that would no longer be an issue," said Mirnawan.
"Overall it was the best performance as Malaysian denied India any penalty coorners in 70 minutes, and the only
difference between both sides was that the Indian players are more clinical the semi circle, as well as a superb
display by their goalkeeper to deny Malaysia's five penalty corner attempts," said Mirnawan.
There was a penalty shoot-out practice after the match, which India won 3-1.