Friday, March 8, 2013

Much wiser after 6-3 drubbing?

MALAYSIA start their 22nd Azlan Shah Cup campaign against South Korea today in Ipoh, with the 6-3 hiding still fresh in coach Paul Revington's mind.
  It was at the Champions Challenge I in Argentina last December, where Malaysia beat South Korea 4-2 at the pool stage, only to receive a 6-3 hammering in the semi-finals.
  For the record, Argentina then blasted South Korea 5-0 in the final, to move into the elite Champions Trophy bracket.
  And with former Malaysian coach Paul Lissek now coaching South Korea, the equation just got more interesting.
  The others in the six-team invitational are world No 2 Australia, the raging favourites to lift their seventh title, defending champions New Zealand and crowd favourites India and Pakistan.
  "We are as prepared as ever for this tournament, and all my players are primed to start. The friendlies against Ireland and New Zealand helped the coaching set-up to identify weakness and I am optimistic that Malaysia will play much better than their 13th ranking in the world," said South African Revington.
  However, with German Lissek at the helm of the Koreans: "I have all the respect for Lissek, as he has done much to help Malaysian hockey in the past and I admire him as a coach.
  "But professionally speaking, we both have a job to do and mine is to beat his side for a good start in the tournament," said Revington.
  Lissek was less optimistic, as he does not have a few regulars who are playing in Europe, while when they left Korea, it was -10 degrees.
  "Even though I know all the Malaysian players, will not be an easy match as I do not have many players who took Korea to the Champions Challenge final in Argentina.
  "Also, we only played indoor as it was -10 degrees in Korea, while Malaysia has had good warm-up games against Ireland and New Zealand.
  "But having said, that, we will play the Korean way, and make it difficult for every team in Ipoh," said Lissek.
  It was back in 2010, when India and Korea moved into the final of the Azlan Shah Cup, and were declared joint-champions when torrential rain spoiled the party.
  And with Malaysia never laying their hands on the Azlan Shah Cup, it would be a battle between former champions and Revington's hopefuls.

  SATURDAY: New Zealand  v  Pakistan (4pm), Australia  v  India (6pm), Malaysia  v  Korea (8pm).
   SUNDAY: Australia  v  Pakistan (4pm),  Korea  v  India (6pm), Malaysia  v  New Zealand (8pm).
   March 12: Korea  v  New Zealand (4pm), India  v  Pakistan (6pm), Malaysia  v  Australia (8pm).
   March 14: Australia  v  Korea (4pm), New Zealand  v  India (6pm), Malaysia  v  Pakistan (8pm).
  March 16:  Korea  v  Pakistan (4pm), Australia  v  New Zealand (6pm), Malaysia  v India (8pm).
    Note: All matches at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh.