Sunday, March 18, 2012

1-1 draw shuts the door on Malaysia

IRELAND held Malaysia to a 1-1 draw to qualify for the final of the Olympic Qualifier in Dublin yesterday.
The Irish will play for the Olympics ticket against South Korea today.
Malaysia started aggressively, as they went looking for an early goal, in them and there was an air of confidence which was not evident in this tournament thus far.
However, Ireland won the first penalty corner of the match in the seventh minute, and the Malaysian confidence received a further boost when Shukri Mutalib easily slapped away the Irish flick.
Ireland dominated the match after that, but stout defending by Baljit Singh and goalkeeper S. Kumar keep the score at 0-0, with Malaysia relying on counter-attacks only.
Luck favoured the Malaysians time and again, as Ireland dominated but all their shots towards goal went wide to the amazement of the capacity crowd at the UCD grounds.
The Irish played one of their worst matches of the Qualifiers, and rode on their luck, as Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin's reverse stick 10 second from the first half break hit the post and went out.
Malaysia injected some hope into their campaign when just five minutes into second half, Nabil Fiqri scored off a goalmouth scramble and the match turned into a sizzler after that.
The ball went from post to post, while Malaysia look to increase their lead, while the Irish try to salvage their St Patricks celebrations as only 24 minutes remained in the match.
Ireland win their third penalty corner of the match in the 46the minute, but a super run-out by Baljit clears the ball.
Twenty-one minutes remain, and Malaysia hold onto the slim lead, but still, not a single penalty corner has been won by Tai Beng Hai's men until now.
An injury to Faizal Saari, and a green card to Madzli Ikmar reduces the strength of the Malaysian attack and defense as only 15 minutes remain in the match.
Ireland win their fourth penalty conrer in the 56th minute, but Baljit Singh runs out tlike a sprinter and takes the full force of the ball on his body. He is badly injured, but Malaysia stay alive.
Malaysia entered into troubled waters in the 60th minute, as Fitri Saari was shown the yellow card, to sit out for five minutes, and Ireland were awarded their fifth penalty corner.
That was what the Irish needed, and John Jermyn flicked home the equaliser and the tide turned on Malaysia after that.
Marhan Jalil was then flashed the yellow, and it further reduced Malaysia's chances to win the match as only five minutes remained.

FINAL: Ireland v South Korea (12midnight); THIRD-FOURTH: Malaysia v Russia (9.30pm).