Thursday, July 9, 2009

Malaysia remain unbeaten

MALAYSIA topped the Group B table on nine points, after they beat Russia 4-3 in the Champions Challenge II in Dublin, Ireland yesterday.
However, at press time, Poland and Ireland had to play in Group A, and Malaysia’s opponents in the last-four could not be determined.
Malaysia took a 2-0 lead in the first half with goals from Ismail Abu and Hafifi Hafiz.
Malaysia earned their first penalty corner in the eight minute, and Ismail deflected in a set-piece to take the lead.
And in the 29th minute, it was Hafifi’s turn to increase the lead off a field attempt.
But in their haste to score, Malaysia forgot to defend and were punished early in the second half.
Russia scored two quick goal in the second half, and drew level. However, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin made it 3-2 with another penalty corner set-piece in the 53rd minute, but the Russians equalised again.
The winner was scored by Junior World Cup player Faizal Shaari in the 66th minute.
“The defenders lost concentration in the second half, and an easy match became difficult. We did well to win all the pool matches, and the real test will be in the semi-finals,” said team manager George Koshy.

RESULTS: Group A: Japan 4 Chile 3, Poland 3 Ireland 2; Group B: Malaysia 4 Russia 3, Austria 1 France 5.


P W D L F A Pts
Poland 3 3 0 0 9 6 9
Ireland 3 2 0 1 8 3 6
Japan 3 1 0 2 6 9 3
Chile 3 0 0 3 5 10 0

P W D L F A Pts
Malaysia 3 3 0 0 11 7 9
France 3 2 0 1 12 8 6
Russia 3 0 1 2 10 13 1
Austria 3 0 1 2 7 12 1

SATURDAY: Semi-finals: Malaysia v Ireland (12 midnight Malaysian time), Poland v France.
Fifth-Eight: Japan v Austria, Russia v Chile.

Malaysia 4 France 2 (Pic: Adrian Boehm)

Ireland 3 Japan 0


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Champion's Challenge: Ireland 3 Japan 0

Group A: Ireland 3 (John Jermyn 2, Mikey Watt) Japan 0

What a difference a day makes. The indecision and individual errors that characterised Monday night’s match with Chile all but dissipated as Ireland eased into the semi-finals of the Champion’s Challenge II at Belfield last night.

The 3-0 score-line was the only similarity between the performance against tournament top seeds Japan and bottom ranked Chile as notice of a different outlook was served inside 15 seconds.

Mikey Watt burst into the Japanese circle with the ball flaring up to be batted home by John Jermyn though a whistle had blown for a free-out. Nonetheless, an infinitely more purposeful attitude saw Japan take over five minutes to get out of their half with the ball.

When the goals came, John Jermyn was once again tormentor in chief. Mitch Darling expertly won the first corner of the game - his first act after coming off the bench - in the 11th minute which the Corkonian duly zipped into the bottom left corner.

Seven minutes later he repeated the trick, maintaining Ireland’s 100pc record in the tournament from the set-piece.

Indeed, the home side’s danger from corners was not solely confined to their offensive efforts. The three conceded on the evening all led to fluid break-outs, the first of which made it 3-0 five minutes before the break.

Johnny Jackson stole the ball at the top of his own circle; Stephen Butler - Ireland's most experienced player at his bullish best, facing the side he made his debut against - added the forward impetus, sharing a pass with Watt, to create a three-on-three and eventually got the chance to shoot on his reverse.

In truth, the shot was miscued but Watt was alive to the chance and scrambled through Katsuya Takase’s legs. From Japan’s second penalty corner, a similar break-out fashioned a chance for Butler 80 metres from where Yuta Fukushiro mis-trapped.

The second half proved less productive as the inexperienced Japanese attempted a more aggressive press than their passive, half-court first period. It led to increased niggle with Naoto Shiokawa, Joe Brennan, Jermyn and Graham Shaw all seeing green cards.

With Jermyn subsequently substituted, three corner chances went without reward as Butler and Sothern both tried their luck to no avail. Timmy Cockram’s reverse cross escaped Alan Sothern’s slide while Eugene Magee stumbled slightly as he struck a breaking ball wide.

Japan rallied late on. Ryuti Furusato drew a point-blank save off David Harte’s foot. His skills also caused bedlam down the left end-line, leaving Ronan Gormley to probably take the best option of a clumsy foul to prevent a free shot with Harte scrambling to cover the vacant goal.

The ensuing drag-flick was dismissed with apparent disdain by the towering goalkeeper. He was caught out of position once but for the second day in a row Tim Lewis calmly cleared a potentially fraught situation and ensure a clean sheet.

Speaking afterwards, Irish coach Paul Revington was pleased his side’s performance had stepped up after a nervy first game, though he hoped for a couple more goals.

“It was a damn sight better than yesterday [against Chile]. This should be a standard performance. If we perform well we should be scoring five or six goals, in my opinion in games like this, but this is the kind of performance I expect.”

Poland were also confirmed as semi-final qualifiers due to this result combined with their 3-1 win over Chile. Thursday’s match will now solely decide semi-final seedings.

Group A standings (points/goal difference): 1. Ireland 6pts (+6) 2. Poland 6pts (+2) 3= Japan 0pts (-4) 3= Chile 0pts (-4)

Malaysin the semis


Champion's Challenge: Day Two results

Group B: Austria 4 (Michael Korper 2, Benjamin Stanzl 2) Russia 4 (Alexey Sergeev 2, Evgeny Mokrousov, Azarov)
Austria produced a stunning comeback in another lively game at the Champion's Challenge this afternoon as they recovered from a three-goal deficit to draw 4-4, though the value of a draw for either side following opening day defeats may be negligible.

Russia - without the suspended Dimitry Volkov, retrospectively red carded for two yellows on Monday - raced into a 3-0 lead inside 16 minutes with Alexey Sergeev adding to his two goals against Malaysia with a fourth minute drag-flick.

Mokrousov and late call-up Azarov fired in two in two minutes to increase the lead before Austria finally got a foothold in the game - Korper slamming home his third of the competition from the top of the D.

Benjamin Stanzl narrowed the lead further in the second half from a corner but Sergeev edged Russia up to 4-2 in the 48th minute. But Stanzl's diving effort and Korper's drag-flick inside the last dozen minutes meant honours were shared.

Group B: France 2 (Lucas Sevestre, Arnaud Becuwe) Malaysia 4 (Ismail Abu, Amin Rahim 2, Azlan Misron)
Malaysia became the first side to qualify for the semi-finals as they got the better of France in a fast, free-flowing tie. They began the scoring via Ismail Abu's snap-shot but Lucas Sevestre's high reverse brought the game level in the 22nd minute but Rahim got his third of the tournament to make it 2-1 by the break.

He plucked an overhead from the sky, broke into the circle only for his final shot to be denied by a covering defender's foot. No matter, he converted the stroke.

Azlan Misron extended the lead with a slick deflection to a drag-flick and by the 40th minute the advantage was 4-1 as Rahim slid in to net from a great cross. Arnaud Becuwe got a consolation two minutes from time for the French

Standings (points/goal difference): 1. Malaysia 6pts (+3) 2. France 3pts (0) 3. Austria 1pt (-1) 4. Russia 1pt (-2)

Group A: Poland 3 (Thomasz Choczaj, Tomasz Dutkiewicz, Miroslaw Juszczak) Chile 2 (Sebastian Kapsch, Esteban Krainz)
Poland picked up their second 3-2 win of the tournament, managing to keep their noses ahead of Chile and to the verge of qualification - dependent on Ireland's result later on.

A ninth minute counter-attack got the ball rolling, Thomasz Choczaj converting the chance. The lead was short-lived as an error from a Polish defender left a huge overload and Sebastian Kapsch duly equalised in the 12th minute.

Captain Tomasz Dutkiewicz recaptured the advantage within 150 seconds from a corner, though, as Poland began to take control and Mirolslaw Juszczak built the lead further, rebounding off Mauro Scaff in the second half.

Esteban Krainz pulled one back in the 47th minute and his side rattled the post soon after as the South Americans finished stronger as the game opened up.

Ireland 3 Chile 0


Monday, July 6, 2009

Champion's Challenge: Ireland 3 Chile 0

Ireland 3 (John Jermyn 3) Chile 0
John Jermyn’s hat-trick of set-pieces were the upside of what was otherwise a pretty disjointed Irish performance against Chile this evening at Belfield. Indeed, a more accomplished side than the tournament’s bottom-ranked side would surely have made more of the chances that presented themselves with David Harte by far the busier of the goalkeepers.

He pulled off four corner saves while he came off his line speedily on a couple of occasions to snuff out impending danger. The upside for Ireland, though, is that though they only created five clear chances they scored three and hit the post twice.

Jermyn nailed the first shot in anger in the eighth minute after a cagey start, converting himself after manufacturing the corner on the endline.

The early lead failed to settle Ireland, however, and a series of misplaced passes and weak control on the ball gifted Chilean star man Felipe Montegu free runs from the halfway to penetrate the circle.

Alexis Berzcely missed a gilt-edge chance when left one-on-one with Harte four yards out but his weak reverse-scoop dribbled wide.

Ireland’s attacks were always more incisive. Eugene Magee won a second corner for Jermyn to double the advantage in the 29th minute and when Matias Amoroso was sin-binned for an off-the-ball incident, the hosts seemed to have broken the shackles.

A superb break-out between Jermyn, David Hobbs and Mikey Watt - earning his 50th cap - ended with Jermyn skimming the outside of the post. But it was one of two rare moments of fluidity as the South Americans dominated the early stages of a pretty shapeless second half.

An awful mix-up between Ronan Gormley and Joe Brennan in the right apex of the circle left David Harte stranded only for Tim Lewis to come up with a last-ditch intercept.

The ensuing play exposed the difference between the sides. Chile’s profligacy contrasted with Ireland’s capitalising on a loose pass. Jermyn latched onto the ball and within one pass Magee was one-on-one. He was unceremoniously hacked down and Jermyn duly completed his triple from the spot.

A second flowing move saw Stephen Butler play in David Hobbs to batter off the inside of the post before the game petered out in the final 20 minutes.

Lewis was sin-binned - possibly more due to an increasing number of dodgy tackles rather than his particular effort - as Montegu lobbed the ball delicately across the front of the goal while Krainz had two more drag-flicks booted away by Harte.

Speaking about his first ranking game in charge, Paul Revington was not pleased with his side's performance: "I am very disappointed with the overall performances as we set ourselves higher standards. We will have to perform at a consistently higher level for longer periods tomorrow if we are to end up on top against Japan."

* For more of Adrian Boehm's photos from the Ireland vs Chile game, click here

Group A Standings (points/goal diff): 1. Ireland 3pts (+3), 2. Poland 3pts (+1), 3. Japan 0pts (-1) 4. Chile 0pts (-3)



Group A: Japan 2 (Katsuyoshi Nagasawa, Kenji Kitazato) Poland 3 (Marcin Strykowski, Tomasz Gorny 2)

Both of Ireland’s group A opponents felt their way slowly into the competition, sticking rigidly to a half-court press game which ultimately bore no fruit and little goal-mouth action.

By contrast, the second half developed into a dramatic shoot-out from the moment Marcin Strykowski tapped home two minutes after the interval.

Katsuyoshi Nagasawa’s drag-flick equalised before Tomasz Gorny restored the lead, firing home a zippy move. Kenji Kitizato made it 2-2 with a tap-in but Gorny popped up late on to roof in style to cause a minor surprise based on world rankings.

Group B: Malaysia 3 (Kevinder Singh, Muhammad Amin Rahim 2) Austria 2 (Michael Korper 2)
Malaysia began their tournament in dream fashion as Kevinder Singh sniped through the Austrian defence in just the fourth minute to take a 1-0 lead which they held until the break.

The European side levelled in the 44th minute through Michael Korper's low drag-flick but Muhammad Amin Rahim returned the favour within two minutes to restore Malaysia's advantage before getting the crucial third with a carbon copy strike.

The Austrians narrowed the gap in the 60th minute, Korper nailing the fourth corner strike in quick succession but an equaliser evaded them to give Malaysia the early advantage in the group.

France 5 (Arnaud Becuwe 2, Thomas Gourdin, Nicolas Martin-Brisac, Freddie Soyez) Russia 3 (Alexey Sergeev 2, Alexey Mayorov)
France won out in a goalfest to take their place at the top of group B alongside Malaysia as they got the better of Russia this afternoon. Thomas Gourdin opened the floodgates from close range to open his sides before Nicolas Martin-Brisac made it 2-0 from a botched corner to tap in.

Russia got back into the contest in the 19th minute when Alexey Sergeev dragged home and his side were level early in the second half thanks to Alexey Mayorov.

But parity was short-lived as Soyez dispatched a corner for 3-2 while Arnaud Becuwe appeared to make it safe at 4-2 with another corner-strike. Russia, though, were not done - Mayorov executed a penalty stroke with two minutes to go but Becuwe completed the scoring on the final whistle to end a memorable match 5-3.

Standings (points/goal diff): 1. France 3pts (+2), 2. Malaysia 3pts (+1), 3. Austria 0pts (-1) 4. Russia 0pts (-2)

Malaysia book semis spot

MALAYSIA produced a stunning performance, under chilly and rainy
conditions in Dublin, to beat France 4-2 in a Group B match to advance to
the semi-finals of the Champions Challenge II yesterday.
Malaysia, who edged Austria 3-2 on Monday, have earned six points, and
will complete their group fixture against minnows Russia tomorrow.
The Malaysians dominated proceedings against France and took the lead
through Ismail Abu's field goal in the 15th minute.
However, a defensive mix-up allowed France to level when Lucas
Sevestre's rising reverse stick attempt went past Malaysia goalkeeper S.
Kumar in the 22nd minute.
But Amin Rahim's trademark penalty corner flick regained Malaysia's
lead, his third in the tournament, just two minutes before the half time
Malaysian went into the offensive at the start of the second half and
earned their third penalty corner in the the 37th minute.
Azlan Misron deflected home a powerful drag flick by Amin for a 3-1
Malaysia's aggressiveness paid off in the 40th minute when a midfield
build up led to a chance for Muhd Razie Rahim to slide in to finish off a
great cross.
France earned their second goal through Arnaud Becuwe's field attempt
in the 68th minute
Team manager George Koshy said his charges played a superb game to tame
"Everyone in the team contributed to this important victory. They
played their hearts out and it will surely give them the self-belief of
doing well in the tournament," said George when contacted in Dublin
Malaysia will face Russia, who drew 4-4 with Austria yesterday, in
their last group match tomorrow.
RESULT - Group B: Austria 4 Russia 4; Malaysia 4 France 2.

Nervy Malaysia survive a scare in Dublin

MALAYSIA scraped past Austria 3-2 in the Champions Challenge II in
Dublin, Ireland yesterday to be in the hunt for a semi-final berth from
Group B.
Kelvinder Singh started the count with a fourth minute field goal,
while Amin Rahim scored two penalty corner goals in the 46th and 49th
The Austrians equalised at 1-1, after which Malaysia took a 3-1 lead
before allowing in a late goal. But Malaysia held on to win three
valuable points against their 22nd ranked opponents.
The next battle is against 17th ranked France and a win will
consolidate their semis ticket. Their last hurdle is against Russia on
At one stage, Malaysia were playing with nine players as Baljit Singh
and Jivan Mohan were sent to the sin-bin for a stick check, and
obstruction respectively.
"The scoreline is not that good, but the players did just enough to
earn three points, and I am sure they will do much better against France
tomorrow (today)," said coach Tai Beng Hai.
Malaysia played cautiously, even after taking a 3-1 lead, and the coach
said it was because they were caught many times for being too close
during autoplay.
"Even when our players were not obstructing, or playing the ball but
just making a retreat after an infringement, we were penalised for being
in the way.
"The rule was enforced too strictly, in my opinion, and we got caught
many times and my players became overly cautious after that," said Beng
"We will need to keep their winning momentum against France, and
qualify for the semi-finals on a clean slate.
"The team will be more composed after overcoming their first match
jitters, and we should come out tops."
RESULT - Group B: Malaysia 3 Austria 2.
FIXTURES: TUESDAY - Group B: Austria v Russia, France v Malaysia; Group
A: Poland v Chile, Ireland v Japan.
THURSDAY - Group B: Malaysia v Russia, Austria v France; Group A: Japan
v Chile, Poland v Ireland.
SATURDAY - Semi-finals.
SUNDAY - Final.