Monday, March 12, 2012

Big Chile bungle...

An embarrassing moment unfurled at the UC Dublin grounds on Sunday when the organizers of the Olympic Qualifier played the Malaysian national anthem for Chile before their match against South Korea.
The Chile players were shocked, but kept their composure and stood still, while the 20-odd Malaysians at the stands took the opportunity to sing the Negaraku loudly to the amazement of the Irish crowd.
The Negaraku was played in full, and after it ended, the Chile players were seen talking to the umpires, but they decided to start the match anyway.
Interestingly, the Negaraku inspired the Chile players to hold Korea to for 30 minutes, before the Koreans could crack open the goalmouth.

Arul could derail Malaysia's hopes

IT was back in the 2009 Champions Challenge II that Arul Selvaraj first assisted Ireland to beat Malaysia 2-1 in the semi-finals.
Playing in Dublin, Malaysia fell by the wayside and ended up fourth, after losing 4-3 in extra-time to France.
And today, as a much more experienced Ireland assistant coach, Arul will again be in charge of plotting a win for his adopted country in the Dublin Olympics Qualifier which starts on Saturday.
Arul is no stranger to Malaysian hockey, and as a former international, he had played alongside the likes of Nor Saiful Zaini and knows the ins-and-outs of the national side.
He has been in the Malaysian camp as a player and then coach when he assisted Paul Lissek, and kept in touch with the current batch of players when he was back home on a holiday.
Always with a smile, Arul could be the 12th man when Malaysia play Ireland in their final league match on March 17.
The fixtures have been kind to Malaysia as they first meet Chile followed by Russia and then Ukraine to not only get the maximum nine points, but also goals which could come into play when the dust settles.
After the 'easy' early matches, Malaysia play South Korea and if they falter, the Ireland match will be a must-win tie if Malaysia hope to to reach the final of the Qualifier.
And if Malaysia reach the final, either Korea or Ireland are tipped to be their nemesis again.
Arul knows that Amin Rahim is flat-footed and that it's easier to win penalty corners off him compared to Razie Rahim, Baljit Singh and Madzli Ikmar, the other defenders.
He also knows that when Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin is given too much space, he will score even from an acute angle.
Arul is also wise to the fact that Malaysia have three penalty corner flickers in Amin, Razie and Faizal Saari.
The damning conclusion is that Ireland's assistant coach knows not only the penalty corner variations and strengths and weaknesses of all the Malaysian players, but also their favourite food as he has had many a 'teh-tarik' with the players.
Arul had helped Malaysia qualify for the 1998 Utrecht Word Cup when they finished sixth in the Kuala Lumpur Qualifier in 1997.
But his work is now cut out to stop Malaysia at all costs, especially if the Irish lose to Korea and the Malaysia encounter is their last avenue to reach the final -- which is very likely.

Olympian Mirnawan lends support

THREE-TIME Olympian and national skipper Mirnawan Nawawi is in Dublin to support the national team, and after watching them whip Chile 5-1, he feels this is Malaysia's best chance to get back into the Olympics after 12 years in the cold.
Mirnawan first played in the 1992 Bercelona Olympics at the age of 20 where Malaysia finished ninth, and then as a 24-year-old, he led the charge at the Atlanta Olympics where Malaysia finished 11th.
Mirnawan's hat-trick as an Olympian was in Sydney 2000, where Malaysia again ended 11th.
He was once among the most feared strikers in the world, and his presence was immediately felt at the Universiti College Dublin Stadium by the Malaysians who are studying or working here.
"It was a slow start against Chile but the team showed composure by coming back strongly in the second half and that indicates they have what it takes to win this tournament," said Mirnawan.
Mirnawan is now the team manager of Project 2013, who will be playing in the Junior Asia Cup in May, which is also a qualifier for the Junior World Cup.
"I know all the senior players very well and my take is that they will collect maximum nine points from the first three matches and then beat either South Korea or Ireland and make the final," predicted Mirnawan, who watched South Korea hammer Ukraine 8-2 on Saturday, and added: "Ukraine are an inexperienced side but they are hard-running and quite dangerous on the counter attack.
"Malaysia must not give them much space and need to win as many penalty corners as possible as their penalty corner defence is not very strong.
"Their goalkeeper is quite sturdy under attack, but he is weak in penalty corner defence, and this is where Malaysia need to make full use of our three flickers to get as many goals as possible."
Malaysia next play Ukraine, and flickers Razie Rahim, Faizal Saari and Amin Rahim should get their names on the scoreboard again.

Top-three roll on

RESULTS --- March 10: Malaysia 5 Chile 1, Ireland 6 Russia 1, South Korea 8 Ukraine 2.
March 11: Malaysia 6 Russia 2, Ukraine 0 Ireland 12, South Korea 6 Chile 1.

March 13: Ukraine v Malaysia (9pm), Russia v Chile (11.30-m), Ireland v South Korea (2am).
March 15: Russia v Ukraine (9pm), Malaysia v South Korea (11.30pm), Chile v Ireland (2am).
March 17: South Korea v Russia (6pm), Chile v Ukraine (8.30pm), Ireland v Malaysia (11pm).
March 18: Final and placing matches.


P W D L F A Pts
IRELAND 2 2 0 0 18 1 6
S KOREA 2 2 0 0 14 3 6
MALAYSIA 2 2 0 0 11 3 6
CHILE 2 0 0 2 2 11 0
RUSSIA 1 0 0 1 1 6 0
UKRAINE 2 0 0 2 2 20 0

Amin the spark against Russia

MALAYSIA lived dangerously before Amin Rahim’s hat-trick saw them beat a robust Russia 6-2 in the Olympic Qualifiers at the University College Dublin grounds in Ireland yesterday.
The match followed a Bollywood movie script, as Malaysia received two sucker punches, before waking up to fight tooth-and-nail to win their second match of the Qualifier.
“I was warming the bench when Malaysia were down 2-0 to Russia, and when the coach finally told me to enter the pitch, I knew that I had to prove a point. It is nice the score the first hat-trick of the tournament and also find my form here. The team started slowly today (yesterday) but a pep-talk during the break did the trick,” said Amin Rahim.
Amin picked up a knee injury during the playing tour of Australia and that is why he is being used sparingly by coach Tai Beng Hai.
“I am about 98 per cent recovered from the knee injury, and should be fully ready when we play against South Korea and Ireland,” said Amin.
The sun was up in Dublin, but still, Malaysia took a long time to warm up to the match and paid the price when Russia hammered in two early goals.
The forwardline of Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Faizal Saari and Hafifi Hafiz failed to convert the chances that came their way, and in the 15th minute, Pavel Golubev gave Russia the lead from a close range shot.
In the Malaysian goal was Roslan Jamaluddin as first choice custodian S, Kumar was down with fever.
And two minutes later, Golubev was left alone by the defenders and he again sounded the board from close range.
The unthinkable had happened, as Russia are ranked No 20, while Malaysia are 13th in the world, but the higher ranked team were playing like novices.
Malaysia even bungled the first penalty corner when Razie Rahim flicked high but Russian goalkeeper Roman Rogov stopped it with ease.
Tengku Ahmad made up for his poor play thus far by winning the second penalty corner and it was duly tucked in by Amin Rahim in the 28th minute to give Malaysia a life-line for the remainder of the match.
The second half saw a more composed Malaysian side, and Amin Rahim was again on fire two minutes into the second half, as he scored the equaliser with a well placed penalty corner flick to Rogov's left.
That was the signal for Malaysia to push forward in numbers and in the 45th minute, off their fourth penalty corner, it was youngster Faizal Saari's turn to score and give his team the much needed lead.
Malaysia found their rhythm and it became much easier to score and this time, off their fifth penalty corner in the 52nd minute, Razie Rahim flicked home for a 4-2 lead.
And a super attack combination from Faizal Saari and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin saw Malaysia winning a penalty stroke when Tengku was pushed to the ground.
Amin Rahim stepped up to the spot, and cooly flicked in the fifth goal in the 54th minute.
Hafifi Hafiz then scored the sixth in the 65th, which was Malaysia’s only field goal of the match.