Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hard-fought bronze for Malaysia..

MALAYSIA won their first bronze medal in the Champions Challenge 1 when they beat Ireland 3-2 in Kuantan yesterday.
   For the record, the hosts only had two fourth placings to show before this which was achieved in 2001 in Kuala Lumpur and 2013 in Argentina.
   And it was also Malaysia's first ever medal in an International Hockey Federation (FIH) open tournament, as the other silver and bronze medals were won at the Azlan Shah Cup invitational and the Asian Games. Malaysia has only won gold at the Sea Games level.
    "I'm very prous of the players as they achieved a milestone in Malaysian hockey today (yesterday) but there is much work to be done in our defense as we prepare for the World Cup which is just around the corner.
   "We had our chance to play in the final but blew it against Canada, and now we will worl to finish at leat ninth (among 12 teams) in the World Cup," said Malaysian coach k. Dharmaraj.
    The coach is also looking at minimal changes to the suqad as there is no time left leading to the World Cup: "Maximum there might be two or three chances to the squad as I do not have time on my side. But after the World Cup, there might be more chances as we prepare for the Asian Games gold medal (Olympic ticket)," said Dharmaraj.
    It was another good start for Malaysia as Ahmad Kazamirul's attempt in the fifth minute hit a defenders' foot and Malaysia were awarded a penalty stroke. And Kazamirul stepped up to the spot and beat goalkeeper David Harte for the early lead.
   And  in the 11th minute,  Rashid Baharom's reverse stick shot made it 2-0, but then, the team had led Canada 2-0 and New Zealand 4-1 before collapsing and taking the match into penalty shoot outs. They beat the Kiwis 3-2 but lost the final slot to Canada.
    Both Rashid and Kazamirul scored their first goals in the last match of the tournament, and there are still three more quarters to play.
    And it happened as Paul Gleghorne scores off a penalty corner deflection to cut Malaysia''s lead in the 22nd minute, and the bronze medal was in danger of slipping through coach K. Dharmaraj's men's fingers.
   Malaysia started playing recklessly as first Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin was green carded and Gleghorne narrowed the gap, and in the 24th minute, skipper Azlan Misron was yellow carded and will sit out for at least five minutes.
    But still by the 35th minute, Malaysia had the bronze in their hands while Ireland were pushing hard looking for the equaliser.
   However, in the 43rd minute the same script was played by Malaysia as they let Ireland claw back into the match, and this time it was a sizzling shot at goal by Chris Cargo which gave Ireland the equaliser.
    Malaysia were in a fighting mood yesterday and kept pushing and were finally rewarded when in the 66th minute, skipper Azlan Misron turned striker and gave his men the lead again.
    Faizal Saari and Firhan then sprinted to the Irish goal-mouth in the 70th minute and after a 1-2 exchange, Firhan easily scored the fourth goal to confirm the bronze medal for his mates.
    RESULTS -- Final: Canada x South Korea x; Third-Fourth: Malaysia 4 Ireland 2; Fifth-Sixth: New Zealand 6 France 3; Seventh-Eighth: Japan 3 Poland 2.