Sunday, June 8, 2014

Last Chance Saloon...

 Pic: Malaysia lost 3-2 to India..

AFTER being left in the cold for 12 years, Malaysia have so  far dished out a pathetic performance in the ongoing World  Cup, and their Last Chance Saloon is against Spain Monday night.
   Back in 2002 when Kuala Lumpur hosted the World Cup,  Malaysia finished eighth among 16 teams, and the best they  can achieve at the Hague, Netherlands is a ninth spot.
   And that too, provided they beat Spain today, and then win  their ninth-10th classification match.
   Spain have two points, while Malaysia none after four  matches, and a draw would also be disastrous as coach K.  Dharmaraj’s men will then play in the 11-12th classi fication.
   Malaysia ranked 13th, played to their number when they  lost 4-0 to Australia, 6-2 to Belgium, 2-0 to England and 3-2  to India.
   And out of the four goals scored in four matches, Razie  Rahim delivered three off penalty corners while Marhan Jalil  scored off a field attempt.
    The defenders let in a massive 15 goals, and it could have  been 30 if not for the heroics of goalkeeper S. Kumar who was  easily the best Malaysian in every match.
    “We tried our best but we lost,” said Razie after going down  to India.
   “We played so well and we really wanted to win (against  India). We hope to finally get the three points in our next  game (against Spain),” said Razie.
   Dharmaraj said expectations were high on the team as they finished second in the Azlan Shah Cup and won bronze in the Champions Challenge 1.
   “However, both the tournaments can’t be taken as a yardstick as the standard of play in the World Cup is at a much higher level.
   “And with all the players (except for second goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin) playing in their first major tournament, some of them found the atmosphere too difficult to digest.
   “Here, one can’t make any mistakes as goals are the punishment even for a miss-trap in the middle of the field as counters are super fast.
   “However, having said that, I admit that many promising players have failed to perform at the Hague and that’s why we are still winless,” said Dharmaraj.
    The truth is that with Hafifi Hafiz out of the equation due to injury he picked up against England, and Roslan yet to play a single match, only one player has been playing to his form while 15 others have only showed flashes in the pan.
   Kumar, even though its his first World Cup, has been outstanding in every match -- and even the International Hockey Federation (FIH) match reports have consistently harped on his heroics to keep the score low.
    But with porous defending, and jittery strikers, Kumar’s efforts have gone to waste in four matches.
   Note: The Malaysian match is at 8.30pm Monday.