MALAYSIA will square off against Canada again in the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan today, but it will not be
the same as the Group B match where the hosts won 4-3.
This was the consensus by both coaches K. Dharmaraj and Canadian Anthony Farry who feel it would be a
different ball game altogether.
"Even though both teams know each other's strengths as we did play them in the Azlan Shah Cup (won 3-0) as well as in Kuantan, but I believe we cant take previous matches into account because at stake here is a spot in the final as well as a shot at the Champions Trophy ticket," said Dharmaraj.
Malaysia played a super match against Canada, but lapses as well as a penalty stroke and yellow card to
goalkeeper S. Kumar almost saw them lose the match.
"It was my first international yellow card and I was quite surprised with it as after the match, I watched the video
with the coach and saw that it was neither a penalty stroke or a yellow card infringement when I tackled the Canadian
forward in the group match.
"But looking ahead, I must again be at my best tomorrow (today) because Canada does have some good strikers
and their counters are quite sharp," said Kumar.
And in the match against New Zealand in the quarter-finals, Malaysia did take a 4-1 lead but were held 4-4 before
winning the penalty stroke 3-2.
"It (NZ match) was a bruising encounter but my players are capable of giving their best again, and we will not take
Canada lightly as we keep our eyes firmly on playing in the final," said Dharmaraj.
The other semi-finals will be between South Korea and Ireland, where the Irish will go in as the dark horses.
"We have studied videos of the Malaysian matches in this tournament and I can say that the team has improved
tremendously in this tournament and beating world no 6 New Zealand was no small feat. But even though we know
what to do roughly, it will be a hard game for sure," said Farry.
The crowd in Kuantan had been very supportive and there is non stop cheering as well as singing during
"The crowd has really been very supportive and I can say that we are in the semi-finals partly because of their
undying support. I call for their support again as they do motivate my players with their non-stop chanting and
support," said Dharmaraj.
However, the Canadians also enjoy the crowd: "There has been super support form the crowd during the
Malaysian matches and it also works for us as we like the atmosphere," said Farry who will only miss Sukhi
Panesar who was red carded in their bruising quarter-finals where they edged Poland 3-2.
TODAY -- Semi-finals: Malaysia v Canada (7.15pm); Ireland v South Korea (9.30pm).
Classification -- Fifth-Eighth: New Zealand v Poland (2.45pm); France v Japan (5pm).