THE National women's hockey team failed at the last hurdle when they were edged 1-0 by Poland in the semi-finals of the World League Round Two in New Delhi yesterday.
Malaysia had scored a total of 18 goals in four matches and never let in a single one, until they met Poland in the last four.
Marlena Rybacha was the toast of the Poles, as her third minute penalty corner goal took them into the final, and also earned them a ticket into the World League Semi-finals where berths to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics are on offer.
For the record, it was only Marlena's fourth goal of the tournament which dashed Malaysia's hopes.
The other semi-finals late yesterday was between India and Thailand, with the hosts being hot favourites to advance to the final.
Malaysia will now play for the bronze but it would highly likely be a Sea Games warm-up against Thailand, and the medal would not take them into the WL Semi-finals.
The WL rules stipulate that the highest ranked bronze medallists in three of the Round Two tournaments will also advance, but Azarbaijan, ranked 19th, finished third in Montevideo and are eagerly awaiting qualification.
Malaysia are ranked 21st in the world.
Saturday, March 14, 2015
UNIKL Young Guns will be playing in their sixth consecutive Milo Cup finals against SSTMI Thunderbolts in the MHC-Milo-NSC Junior Hockey League at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.
The University side made their debut in 2010, and lifted the Milo Cup by beating Thunderbolts who were known as Bandar Penawar Sports School back then.
However, in the next four Milo Cup finals, SSTMI Thunderbolts were the victors and last season it was on a 2-0 scoreline.
This year, SSTMI Thunderbolts beat UniKL 4-2 en route to lifting their fourth consecutive League title.
That is why UniKL coach I. Vickneswaran can't wait to shed the bridesmaid tag: "Even though we have been consistently finishing second, but I believe this time around it will be different."
"They (Thunderbolts) will enter the pitch as favourites but we can't let that affect us psychologically. In terms of experience and chemistry, Thunderbolts will have the upper hand as they not only have some of the best junior players in the country, but have also been together for many years.
"We have planned something special for the final, and hopefully it is enough to upset the formbook," said Vickneswaran.
SSTMI Thunderbolts have been cruising at top speed in the knock-out stage and it would be a major surprise if they do not lift their fourth consecutive double today.
However, Thunderbolts coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman have brushed aside the favourites tag: “We may have got the better of them during the league, but I can assure you that it would not be so easy tomorrow (today). Both sides have their own strengths and it will all boil down to who can play their cards right.”
Wan Roslan is well aware of the threat that UniKL can pose and has made some tactical re-adjustment for the big game.
“UniKL are very dangerous when they push forward and we will also have to keep an eye on (S.) Deveandran and Norsyafiq (Sumantri), they pull the strings upfront and my defenders must neutralise them.”
National senior team skipper Azlan Misron, who is Down Under on Tour with his men to prepare for the Azlan Shah Cup, made his prediction for the Milo Cup.
“The final is too close to call as this rivalry has been going on for years now. But I predict Thunderbolts have the extra fire-power to come out tops, but on penalty shoot out. I predict a 2-2 full time score," said Azlan.
TODAY: Final -- SSTMI Thunderbolts v UniKL Young Guns (National Stadium Picth II, 5.30pm).
Third-Fourth: SSP-MSP Thunderbolts v Petaling Jaya City Council (National Stadium Picth II, 3.30pm).