Saturday, September 24, 2011

RUGBY SEVENS: A step away from glory

By Jugjet Singh

MALAYSIA started off with powerful wins over Brunei and Taiwan, but ran out of steam and lost 35-5 to defending champions Hong Kong in the Borneo Sevens at the Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.
Malaysia's only try was a 50-metre run from K. Dinesh, but he failed the conversion.
However, finishing second in Group B will now see them play Philippines in the quarter-finals.
Coach Wan Ibrahim Wan Chik was not surprised with the defeat to Hong Kong, but felt his charges gave the defending champions too much of respect.
"We started off well by beating Brunei and Taiwan, and could have done much better against Hong Kong if the players had played their normal game.
"However, I could see that they gave Hong Kong too much of respect, and coupled with three silly mistakes, we lost the match," said Wan Ibrahim.
But the margin of defeat was something for the coach to smile about: "We have yet to beat Hong Kong in a tournament, and normally lose by 50 points. So restricting them to 35 was some sort of an achievement itself."
And in the quarters, the coach feels his charge have a 50-50 chance
against Philippines.
"The target is to play in the semi-finals, and it is still within reach. I believe my players will recover in time to give a better performance in the last-eight."
Malaysia might lose prolific player Ameer Nasrun in the quarters, as he was stretchered out early after receiving a nasty knock early in the match.
Hong Kong coach Gai Rees is fielding eight players from last year's Borneo sevens, and they are the early favourites to retain the title.
"We knew that the match against Malaysia would be the toughest in our group, so we watched them play their earlier two matches and spotted four areas where Malaysia were vulnerable.
"We capitalised on those areas and won the match comfortably. However, I can see that Malaysia has improved tremendously from last
year, and would soon be a team to watch," said Rees.
RESULTS: Men -- Group A: South Korea 46 Thailand 0, China 24 Sri Lanka 17, South Korea 21 Sri Lanka 19, China 36 Thailand 0, South Korea 7 China 36, Thailand 34 Sri Lanka 14.
Group B: Hong Kong 31 Taiwan 17, Malaysia 29 Brunei 5, Hong Kong 62 Brunei 0, Malaysia 17 Taiwan 0, Hong Kong 35 Malaysia 5, Taiwan 43 Brunei 0.
Group C: Japan 50 Philippines 0, Kazakhstan 38 UAE 17, Japan 19 UAE 7, Kazakhstan 19 Philippines 24, Japan 33 Kazakhstan 5, Philippines 22 UAE 14.
TODAY: Quarter-finals -- Malaysia v Philippines, China v UAE, Hong Kong v Taiwan, Japan v South Korea.

Faizal spark for Tenaga

Faizal Saari scores Tenaga’s first goal in their match against Yayasan NS in the Malaysian Hockey League at the National Hockey Stadium yesterday. — Picture by Fariz Iswadi Ismail

A HAT-TRICK from national player Faizal Saari gave Tenaga Nasional a 3-0 victory over Yayasan Negri Sembilan (YNS) in a TNB-MHL Premier Division match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Faizal converted a penalty stroke in the 10th minute after Amin Rahim's penalty corner set-piece hit the foot of YNS defender Ihsan Ullah Khan on the goal line.
He doubled TNB's lead with a reverse stick strike after 20 minutes before converting a penalty corner in the 56th minute.
However, the hot-headed Faizal was sent to the sin bin in the final minute of the first half for hitting YNS keeper Nasir Ahmed. And in the 48th minute, it was the turn of Firhan Ashaari to be sent to the sin bin.
TNB coach Lailin Abu Hassan was not pleased with his players' patchy performance.
"My team did not play well but what matters is the three points. We need to improve on our final passes," said Lailin in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
In another match, Nur Insafi registered their first victory by edging Armed Forces Airod 4-3 courtesy of Syed Sibtain Raza Nagvi's goal from a penalty corner set-piece a minute before the final whistle.
Nur Insafi's other goals were through Damandeep Singh (fifth), Abdul Asin Khan (26th) and Prem Kumar (37th).
Nur Hafizie Jamil Azomi (10th), Ahmad Ridzuan Zainal Abidin (20th) and Mohd Zulkifli (61st) replied for Armed Forces.