Thursday, September 26, 2013

Malaysia to play India in final..

MALAYSIA showed class to hammer Pakistan 4-2 and qualify for the final of the Sultan of Johor Cup with a match in hand at the Taman Daya Stadium yesterday.
   And they will play India in the final, as the Indians had beaten South Korea 6-1 in an earlier match to also remain unbeaten in the tournament.
   India and Malaysia will play again on Saturday to complete their final pool match, but it will be purely academic and a warm-up to Sunday's final.
   It was the second time Malaysia made the final after three editions of the Sultan of Johor Cup, and they claimed the inaugural title in 2011 by beating Australia 3-2 in the final.
   The Malaysian heroes were Zulhaimi Hashim (28th), Shahril Saabah (39th), Fitri Saari (60th) and Syamim Yusof (64th).
   "This is a memorable win as we beat a side which had Olympian and senior World Cup players. The match also showed my players composure, as they had to come back from a goal down for the first time in this tournament to claim the ticket to the final," said coach K, Dharmaraj.
    And the most outstanding player was again goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman, who made some daring and gallant saves.
   However, it took Malaysia 20 minutes to settle down, as poor co-ordiation and stopping suddenly crept into the their normally fluent hockey.
   And they even bungled the first penalty corner in the 10th minute, and gave Pakistan too much of space to mount counter attacks, but the match remained scoreless after 25 minutes of play.
    The stadium was packed to the brim, as supporters turned out in full force to cheer on the juniors, but still, the drumrolls and constant singing and cheering failed to raise coach K. Dharmaraj's charges spirits in the first half, but the tide turned after the breather.
    Pakistan, who relied heavily on counter attacks as Malaysia had them pinned in their own semi-circle for long periods, finally got their act together in the 26th minute.
    Muhammad Dilber connected a cross for the lead, but Malaysia immediately launched an attack after the restart and won their third penalty corner.
    This time, Zulhaimi Hashim made sure with a sizzling flick in the 28th minute, to re-ignite the Malaysian fire.
    Malaysia were more composed after the break, and barely four minutes into play, they won a crucial penalty corner and tournament top-scorer Shahril Saabah nailed his sixth goal to give Malaysian the lead.
    But Pakistan came back into the match again when they converted a penalty corner in the 48th minute into a penalty stroke, and Muhammad Tousiq beat Malaysian goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman.
    Team skipper, Fitri Saari, who gave away the penalty stroke to Pakistan earlier made ammends when he scored the third goal off a penalty corner rebound in the 50th minute.
    There was plenty of time to score more, and Malaysia looked the more dangerous side as they kept possession and made dangerous breaks.
    Syamim Yusof then took off the intense pressure off the Malaysian shoulder with a stunning field goal in the 64th minute and made sure Malaysia played in the final.

                                P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
INDIA                       4   4   0  0  15  4   12
MALAYSIA               4   4   0  0  16  6   12
PAKISTAN                4   2   0  2  11  10   6
ARGENTINA              4   1   1  2  9   9     4
S KOREA                   4   0   1  3  4  16    1
ENGLAND                 4   0   0  4  4  14    0

   RESULTS -- England 0 Argentina 3, South Korea 1 India 6, Malaysia 4 Pakistan 2.
    Sept 28: Argentina v Pakistan (4pm), India v Malaysia (6pm), South Korea v England (8pm).
    Sept 20: Final and placing matches.