Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just a step away from the final

ALL Malaysia have to do now is beat South Korea and have a game in hand...

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 1 Malaysia 5, Russia 4 Chile 3, Ireland 1 South Korea 1.

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
MALAYSIA 3 3 0 0 16 4 9
IRELAND 3 2 1 0 19 2 7
S KOREA 3 2 1 0 15 4 7
RUSSIA 3 1 0 2 7 15 3
CHILE 3 0 0 3 5 15 0
UKRAINE 3 0 0 3 3 25 0

Korea hold Ireland 1-1

Story and Pic by FIH

Ireland 1, Korea 1

It was the first major test of the Electric Ireland FIH Road to London tournament as unbeaten Ireland and Korea met in a highly-anticipated match. The game lived up to expectations has the squads battled for the full 70 minutes in a hard fought 1-1 draw.
Korea, ranked sixth in the FIH World Ranking and the favorite of this event, fell behind in the first half after Ireland’s David Ames scored the only goal of the period on a diving penalty corner tap in bringing the sell-out crowd to its feet.
Hyun Woo Nam has been the key to Korea’s offense and he was the player to get Korea on the board. After 41 minutes of frustration, Nam’s low shot evened the game at one and silenced the crowd. The teams battled throughout the rest of the half in the best end-to-end action that’s been seen at this tournament.
With seven minutes left in action there was a worrying moment when Ireland’s Conor Harte took a hit to the head and had to be led off the field on a stretcher. The Irish team tried to rally after the injury break, but couldn’t get past Korean goaltender Myung Ho Lee.
The outcome of today’s game leaves the field wide open for the top three teams at this Road to London tournament. Malaysia leads the pack with nine points in three games. But nipping at their heels are Korea and Ireland, which are also both unbeaten, but have fewer points because of today’s tie. The next big test for the top three teams will be on Thursday when Malaysia takes on Korea.

Russia 4, Chile 3

Russia netted its first win at this road to London tournament with a 4-3 victory over Chile. The win still leaves the coveted spot to London out of reach, but nevertheless, it was a moral victory for the 20th ranked Russians in the FIH World Ranking.
The game was up for grabs until Russia struck with two quick goals midway through the second half to bounce back for a 4-3 lead. Pavel Golubev and Alexander Zhirkov scored the critical answers to Chile’s second half surge and killed the momentum that Chile was building. The lead stood through a tense final minutes as Russia took its first points of the event.
Chile went on the board first after Ignacio Gajardo was in perfect position to tap in the ball after it bounced off the post. Three minutes later, Russia’s Aleksandr Platonov returned the favor after finding himself in perfect position to put in a rebound for the 1-1 goal. Platonov gave his team its first lead of the game two minutes later to send the teams into the warmth of the locker room at the break with Russia holding the one-goal lead.
Jan Richter and Alexis Berczely each scored two minutes apart to restore Chile’s lead making it a 3-2 affair, giving Chile the momentum, but Russia stayed composed setting up the go-ahead heroics and hanging on for the win.

Malaysia 5, Ukraine 1

Malaysia did its part to stay atop of the standings at the Electric Ireland FIH Road to London tournament making easy work of Ukraine in a 5-1 victory. The win gives Malaysia three wins in three games and leaves the Ukraine looking for its first points at the event.
Perhaps it was the chilly weather in Dublin, but it took Malaysia awhile to warm up its offense, taking more than 25 minutes to score its first goal when Faizal Saari set up Tengku for the roof shot. The 2-0 goal came eight minutes later and was threaded between the legs of Ukrainian goaltender Vovodymr Kurbatov giving Malaysia the slim two-goal lead at the break.
Malaysia opened the second half scoring with its first penalty corner of the game 18 minutes into the half, but Ukraine bounced back with the surprising counter and put in its lone goal of the game to keep the Malaysians on their toes with a 3-1 game.
With seven minutes left in the game, Malaysia all but sealed the win with the 4-1 goal when Faizal put in the insurance marker. A penalty stroke goal in the last minute of action brought the final to 5-1.
Tomorrow all teams are off, and then on Thursday Malaysia has its first real test of the tournament against top-ranked Korea. Ukraine will look for its first win against Russia.

Malaysia do just enough against Ukraine

HAFIFI Hafiz (centre) celebrates scoring against Ukraine. Malaysia won 5-1. Pic by S.S. Dhaliwal.

MALAYSIA missed 10 sitters but still went on to beat Ukraine 5-1 to keep their Olympic Qualifier campaign chugging along in freezing cold Dublin.
It was not the kind of score one expected against Ukraine at the University College Dublin grounds, but then Malaysia are not known as a high scoring team even when playing against weaker opponents.
Project 2013 coach K. Dharmaraj, who arrived yesterday to watch the Qualifier, said goals do not matter as Malaysia only need to keep on winning all their matches here.
"The goals did not come against Ukraine, but that is not a bad sign as Malaysia just need to keep winning their matches to make sure we play in the final.
"I know the players are capable of playing better, and they will not disappoint against South Korea and Ireland, which are the crucial matches here anyway," said Dharmaraj.
Malaysia went in looking for early goals, but the Ukranian's parked themselves in numbers in their own semi-circle and defended stoutly to deny the Malaysian forwards.
Ireland had scored 12 goals against Ukraine, but they were in no mood to be whipped again, and played a defensive game.
Malaysia won their first penalty corner in the 12th minute, but Razie Rahim's flick was well stopped and the Ukranians grew in confidence after that.
But it was a matter of time before Ukraine cracked, and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin started the ball rolling with a cracking reverse-stick shot which crashed into the net in the 25th minute.
Hafifi Hafiz then took his tournament tally to three goals when the slammed home from close range in the 32nd minute, and Malaysia started to look more composed going into the breather.
Malaysia pressed ahead in the second half but still, the ball refused to go in as the forwards missed sitters while the penalty corners also failed to work.
But the fifth penalty corner finally sailed in, as Razie Rahim's low flick in the 49th minute made it 3-0.
And the unthinkable happened in the 58th minute, when Ukraine won their first penalty corner and Volodymyr Buriatynskyi made a low attempt which easily beat the runners as well as goalkeeper S. Kumar to snatch one goal.
And with 10 minutes remaining in the match, Amin Rahim delivered his fifth goal of the tournament with a low penalty corner push, and Malaysia went 4-1 up.
A penalty stroke was awarded to Malaysia in the 69th minute, after Tengku Ahmad Tajudin was brought down in the semi-circle, and Shukri Mutalib scored form the spot for a 5-1 win.

Baljit's fan club...

LANKY Baljit Singh is Malaysia's pillar in defense, and his long reach has stopped many goal-bound shots during the 120 matches he has played for the country.
And the unassuming defender has found new fame in Dublin, as the legion of Malaysian fans root for him everytime he gets the ball.
However, being the most recognised face among Malaysians in Dublin has only made him more determined to help goalkeeper S. Kumar keep a clean slate.
"I am also surprised with the support I have been receiving here. It is really wonderful to hear the fans shout my name every time I get the ball, but it also means I have to be more careful and not make any mistakes as I am the last man before the ball reaches Kumar," said Baljit.
And his take so far in the tournament: "We have let in three goals after two matches and all were from counter-attacks after my team-mates were caught in the opponents half attempting a full press.
"This must be avoided at all cost, when we play South Korea and Ireland."
He personally feels the Irish are the most dangerous side in this tournament.
"I have played against the Irish and Koreans many times over the years and find that while the Koreans are still dangerous, the Irish are a more organised side in this tournament," said Baljit.
But having said that, the experienced defender is confident that both the Irish and Koreans are not invincible.
"We have been preparing for the two tough matches for a long time now, and after playing three relatively easy matches, I believe Malaysia will be ready to tackle both the tough matches."

Tengku hits a bad patch

TENGKU Ahmad Tajuddin was named as the Best Player against Russia, but he himself is perplexed on how the selection was done.
He was shocked, and almost annoyed with the tag, as he felt he did not do enough to help Malaysia beat the Russians 6-2.
"I don't know why I was selected as the Best Player, as I really was not at my best in that match," said the 26-year-old striker with 130 caps.
It was a frank assessment of himself, as Tengku Ahmad was a pale shadow the entire match, except for the part where he combined with Faizal Saari to win a penalty stroke.
"For me, it is very simple as I do not find it important to win individual awards as we need to play as a team to win matches. Also, I am not too fussy about winning by scoring field or penalty corner goals, as all we need here is a clear win," said Tengku Ahmad.
He normally gets his name on the scoreboard in almost every other match, but in Dublin, he has not been his usual self.
"My job is simple; if I can't score, I need to win a penalty corner for my mates, and that is just what I have been doing in Dublin. And it has worked wonders, as our penalty corner flickers are on fire here."
Malaysia scored off eight penalty corners, one penalty stroke and two field goals off Hafifi Hafiz and it is only a matter of time before Tengku Ahmad, or Zidane as he is known among friends, claims a few goals for himself.