Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Shukri hears his calling

HE was only 18 when former Malaysian coach Paul Lissek gave him a break over many other experienced hands to play in the 2004 Athens Olympic Qualifiers.
  Today, Shukri Mutalib is 177 caps old, and has seen action at many levels of the game, but not the World Cup or the Olympics.
  And he is determined to add to his profile next year's World Cup, which means he will give his all in the match against Germany.
  "I can never forget the day I was selected for the Athens Olympic Qualifiers for it made me a much better player after that. It was quite an experience and although we failed, it lit a fire in me which will only be satisfied if I play in the Olympics or the World Cup," said Shukri.
  There were many near misses for this lad, as he helped Malaysia to a bronze in the Asian Games, which was the best as well as the worst moment for him as Malaysia gave away the 2010 Olympics ticket to Pakistan on a 2-0 score.
  "That was the closest I got to playing in the Olympics and it came a year after we missed the cut for the 2010 New Delhi World Cup (losing to New Zealand 2-1 in the Invercargill Qualifier final)," said Shukri.
  "And tomorrow (today) I get another chance to help the country, and after many disappointing moments in my career, I aim to get it right this time.
  "It will be tough against the Germans, and even though many have written us off, my team-mates and I believe we are capable of pulling off an upset," said Shukri.

Schlagen Sie die Deutschen!

Malaysian goalkeeper S. Kumar will have to bring out his best to stop the Germans.

MALAYSIA chose their destiny against Olympic champions and World No 1 Germany, and will now have to bring out their best in the World League Semi-finals at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru.
  They played their worst match against England, losing 2-1, but if they manage the form against Pakistan (4-4) and South Africa (6-4), the Germans will have their hands full in the quarter-finals today.
  Only the top-three teams qualify for the World Cup next year, and so Malaysia must make the semi-finals to have two more shots at the ticket.
  German coach Markus Weise knows it would not be easy to tame the Malaysian side, especially at the Taman Daya Stadium.
  "I have seen some great improvement in the Malaysian team under coach (Paul) Revington and it will not be an easy match. There are many fast strikers in the Malaysian team, and they are especially dangerous in the counter. The penalty corner battery is also solid," said Weise.
  Germany have been far from impressive as they were held 1-1 by Argentina, and needed a boost of opening own goals from South Korea and Japan to win 5-0 and 3-1 respectively.
  And while the Koreans looked like they gave up and gave away the huge margin win, the Japanese held them to a 1-1 tie, before bowing out in the second half due to mistakes among their defenders, and not moments of brilliance form Germany.
  Revington has a plan, and it will be modelled after the 3-2 defeat to World No 2 Australia in the Azlan Shah Cup final in March.
  Back then, Malaysia held the Aussies to a 2-2 draw with goals from Faizal Saari and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin before Australia struck the winner four seconds from the final hooter.
  In the group stage, Malaysia held Australia 1-1.
  "We have had a good build-up towards this tournament especially the Azlan Shah Cup where we drew 1-1 and then only lost by one goal against Australia.
  "I have a fighting side, and I believe they will not disappoint me tomorrow (today)," said Revington.
   Malaysia scored a total of 11 goals in three matches, but the minus point is that they have been guilty of giving away too many penalty corners and letting in a massive 10 goals.
  The match looks lop-sided on paper, as a world No 13 side battles the mighty Germans, and only sheer grit would turn the tide towards Revington's men.
  TODAY: Quarter-finals -- Argentina v South Africa (2.45pm); England v Japan (5pm); Pakistan v South Korea (7.15pm); Germany v Malaysia (9.30pm).