Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Difficult, but not impossible...
THE plan is simple.
Malaysia need to beat India in the Asian Champions Trophy in Kuantan Wednesday to cement their top spot in the pool as this will pit them against the fourth placed team in the semi-finals.
Executing it might be difficult, but not impossible, as Malaysia have been on fire in the three previous matches where they beat Pakistan 4-2, China 5-1 and Japan 7-2 convincingly.
India, on the other hand, have had a roller-coaster ride as after hammering Japan 10-2 they were held 1-1 by South Korea and only edged Pakistan 3-2 and yesterday hammered China 9-0.
And India were the only Asian team which played in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Ranked sixth in the world, they are eight rungs above No 14 Malaysia.
But a determined Fitri Shaari, Malaysia's engine room engineer, has a solution.
"We will be playing against Olympians who are ranked eight rungs above us, but that does not place us in awe. In fact, the team is determined to play eight time harder to win full points," said Fitri.
Always reliable to take command of the midfield, Shukri has scored two goals while his brother Faizal is Malaysia's top scorer on four.
However, the main goal-getter for Malaysia in any tournament, Razie Rahim has yet to hit the mark but has has four of his penalty corner rebounds turned into goals.
Razie, who joined the Inspector training in May, has lost his power, but not the placing.
"I'm a little rusty after being off hockey for a while to concentrate on my Police training. But still on target during penalty corners and the rebounds have been turned into goals by my team mates.
"However, after today morning's training (yesterday) I could feel the power coming back to my arms and I am ready to give my best against India," said Razie.
Malaysia have a lousy record against the Olympians, as in 109 encounters the nation has only won 15 times, while India won 76 and 18 ended in draws.
The last win for Malaysia was 3-2 in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup last year.
India coach Roelant Oltmans did not want to comment on the Malaysia match as his mind was locked on preparing for the China encounter yesterday.
RESULTS: Pakistan 4 Japan 3, India 9 China 0.
WEDNESDAY: South Korea v Japan (6.30pm), Malaysia v India (8.30pm).
THURSDAY: Pakistan v China (6.30pm), Malaysia v South Korea (8.30pm).
P W D L F A Pts
INDIA 4 3 1 0 23 5 10
MALAYSIA 3 3 0 0 16 5 9
PAKISTAN 4 2 0 2 9 10 6
S. KOREA 3 1 1 1 6 5 4
CHINA 4 1 0 3 6 20 3
JAPAN 4 0 0 4 8 23 0