Sunday, May 8, 2011

An improved Pakistan

ASIAN Games champions Pakistan are a rejuvenated side, as their senior and junior players have clicked extremely well in the first two matches of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.
They beat New Zealand and South Korea by 4-2 scorelines to give themselves a good chance of playing in the final.
And the secret to their success after finishing 12th in the New Delhi World Cup last year?
"We have been drilling the players to play as a family, and only rely on individual skills when they are presented with an opportunity.
"The sport has changed so much that the coach now has to tell the players when to play as a team, and when to break free individually. Our players no longer run with the ball aimlessly," said Pakistan coach Junaid Khawaja.
Pakistan have qualified for the 2012 London Olympics, and so have Australia, New Zealand and Britain.
"We are playing against nations who are seriously building sides for the Olympics, and it was nice to beat New Zealand.
"And we play Britain next. They have the same brand of European hockey like New Zealand and even though it will be a tough match, I believe my players have received a big boost in the two earlier matches and are primed for another win," said Junaid.

Under pressure against Asians

MALAYSIA, as was expected, lost their first two matches but victories are what they have to serve when playing against Asian opponents in the Azlan Shah Cup from now.
Malaysia play India tomorrow and it will be a tough match as the Indians beat Britain 3-1, the scoreline similar to the national team's defeat to the 2012 Olympic hosts on Thursday.
"There are no easy matches for us in the Azlan Shah Cup as we are the lowest ranked team. India, New Zealand, South Korea and Pakistan have displayed good attitude even with many new players, and I expect them to improve with every match," said national coach Tai Beng Hai.
On his players, Beng Hai was satisfied with the way they played against Australia, but the poor conversion rate is a cause for worry.
"The forwards made many openings in both matches, but failed to score and that is a cause to worry. We only scored two field goals (both by Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin) while the penalty corners have not been working.
"That (penalty corners) is what we will work on in the two rest days. I need to stress that we are working towards the Olympic Qualifier so I might try some new approaches."
India are inconsistent, as after losing tamely to South Korea, they played like champions against Britain.
Malaysia need to beat the three Asian teams to show that their silver medal in the Asian Games was not a flash in the pan.
They showed that they were not afraid of World No 1 Australia, and it is time to produce super shows against their Asian counterparts.