Thursday, April 14, 2016

Impossible eight...possible bronze

TO PLAY in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup, Malaysia must beat India by an eight-goal margin in Ipoh Friday.
  Its an impossible task for coach Stephen van Huizen's charges, as the last meeting between the two teams in the World League Semifinals in Antwerp, saw India winning 3-2 in the quarter-finals to shut Malaysia out of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
  However, for India to pip defending champions New Zealand into the final, they only need a win against Malaysia.
  "It's almost impossible to play in the final, but we need to win this match against India, and then play them again in the bronze medal match," concurred van Huizen.
  A draw will see New Zealand play a repeat final against Australia.
  "Like I said before, the Azlan Shah Cup is our first step towards team-rebuilding. The Antwerp 'disaster' has placed us about five years behind other teams and it is pertinent that we start rebuilding in Ipoh for the World League challenge," said van Huizen.
  Malaysia only lost one match in Ipoh, 5-1 against Australia, but that too was a close match and the World No 1 only broke free when they went on a three-goal blitzkrieg inside three minutes.
  The two draws, 3-3 against New Zealand and 2-2 against Canada, dented Malaysia's hopes of playing in the final.
  "Both the draws and defeat were against teams who are preparing for the Olympics and even though we should have collected full points aganst Canada, mistakes crept into the our late game.
  "We can't afford this against India tomorrow (today)," said van Huizen.
   However, the statistics change for Malaysia if Canada beat Australia in the earlier match, and the hosts lose to India, which will force the national team to play in the fifth-sixth classification.
  Razie Rahim is the top-scorer of the fournament with five goals, and Malaysia's penalty corner battery might just be the secret to beat India today.
  For the record, Malaysia and India have played 20 matches in 25 editions of the Azlan Shah Cup and India won 13, lost three and drew four.


             P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA    5  5  0  0  18 3  15
N ZEALAND    6  3  2  1  15 10 11
INDIA        5  3  0  2  12 10 9
MALAYSIA     5  2  2  1  11 13 8
CANADA       5  1  2  2  8  10 5
PAKISTAN     5  1  0  4  7  16 3
JAPAN        5  0  0  5  7  16 0

  April 14: REST DAY.
  April 15: Japan v Pakistan (4pm), Australia v Canada (6pm), Malaysia v India (8.35pm).
  April 16: Classifications and Final.