Friday, January 16, 2015

Azmi: Best chance for gold

MALAYSIAN team manager Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad believes this is the best time for Malaysia to win a gold medal, as the opponents in the World League Round Two in Singapore are not heavy-weights.
    The tournament, which starts on Saturday, will see top seed Malaysia play Ukraine, Oman and Singapore. The top-three teams qualify for the World League Semi-finals which is a door to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
   "As the top seeds I believe this is our best chance to win a gold medal and qualify for the WL Semifinals on a confident note. The teams here are not world beaters, and we can beat all of them provided there is full commitment from the players in every match.
   "I have spoken the players and they are committed to the cause, as all their needs have been taken care off, and there are no more grouses off the pich. Now, they just need to give their best for the country.
   Australian Neil Hawgood has been roped in as consultant to help chief coach Tain Beng Hai and he was at the Sengkang stadium with the team yesterday.
   Malaysia were supposed to play a friendly with Singapore yesterday, but the match was called off as many Singapore players have picked up injuries leading to the tournament.
    "We have a balanced team as our goalkeeper (S. Kumar) is among the best in the world and with good penalty corner flickers (Razie Rahim and Faizal Saari) I believe the team will not let down their fans again like last year," said Nur Azmi.
   Malaysia were a total flop last year as they struggled in the World Cup, the Commonwealth Games and gave away the gold in the Champions Challenge I and the Asian Games.
   Their performance against minnows, even though ranked 13th in the World also came to question when they lost to World No 29 Trinidad and Tobago 4-2 in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
   But that is the past: "I have selected the best players, and the plan is to win the semi-finals and grab a ticket to the WL semi-finals early to avoid unnecessary pressure in the third-fourth placing match," said Beng Hai.