Monday, June 22, 2015

Confident skipper...

MALAYSIAN skipper Razie Rahim is confident that his mates will not disappoint against China today (Sunday) in the World League Semifinals in Antwerp, Belgium.
  Ranked 31, China have included a few new faces, but the majority are from the Incheon Asian Games squad which Malaysia beat 4-1.
  China made the WL Semifinals by emerging tops in Round Two in South Africa, but that does not bother Razie.
  "We came here on a mission to qualify for the Olympics, and beating China is a must. There are no two ways about this first match. All our preparations have been geared towards beating China as well as our second match against Ireland," said Razie.
  Malaysia play Ireland after a three-day rest, and wins in both the matches will hand Razie and his mates a spot in the quarter-finals -- which is just one step away from packing for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next year.
  "Although we have not played China since the Asian Games, we have been watching their recent matches on video and know their strengths and weaknesses.
  "As for me, I have never felt better executing penalty corners and will try to give the team an early boost and also to douse the China fight by scoring early goals," said Razie.
  The team had a light training around their hotel in Antwerp yesterday, as the Belgian weather kept changing the script. It can become chilly and 17 degrees Celsius with constant drizzle, and the next hour the sun would be out.
  Coach Tai Beng Hai is also confident that China can be beaten.
  "Even though I predict it to be a close match, but victory should be ours as my players have been giving their best and even though we were hit by a tragedy and goalkeeper S. Kumar had to fly home, the target still remains the same -- beat China and Ireland and qualify for the quarter-finals," said Beng Hai.
  The script looks easy and winning three matches is all that Malaysia needs to do, to qualify to the Olympics.
  But if they mess up against China today, the door would be virtually closed as they need to beat Ireland next just to avoid finishing fifth in Group A which does not offer any knock out options. Only the top four teams in each group play in the quarter-finals.
  The other teams in Group B are far too strong for Malaysia but if they win the first two matches, even hammerings in the hands of Belgium and Britain can be taken with a big smile.
  In Group A are world No 1 Australia, the raging favourites for gold, Asian Games champions India (the only team here who has qualified for the Olympics), Pakistan, Poland and France.
  If Malaysia achieve their target of beating China and Ireland, they would finish third in Group B and the likely hood of quarter-finals opponents would be either India or Pakistan.
  But if they finsih fourth in Group B, the corss over would be against the champions of Group A -- Australia for sure.