Sunday, December 8, 2013

Malaysia ccheck into quarter-finals

MALAYSIAN Juniors lived dangerously, and even survived a penalty stroke to beat a stubborn South Africa 2-1 and qualify for the quarter-finals of the Junior World Cup at the Dhyan Chand Stadium yesterday.
   Theor ticket was confirmed when New Zealand held England to a 2-2 draw in another Group D match.
   After the second straight England are their last opponents to decide who tops the group.
   Goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman had nerves of steel when he palmed away a penalty stroke: "I was not afraid at all, infact, I was determined and confident because I did not want to let my team-mates down. It was my moment, and I am happy I survived the test."
   Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah was happy with the three points, but not the way his boys played.
   "We are heading towards the quarter-finals, but still, I think the boys need to play at a higher level and stop making too many mistakes. They must keep up the momentum, and must beat England at all cost," said Tengku Abdullah.
     Malaysia were lost souls when they gave away a 20 seconds penalty corner to South Africa, and until the 14th minute, handed them another three more penalty corners on a platter after poor defending.
   South Africa bungled the first three penalty corners, but in the 14th minute Matthew Brown sent the ball crashing into the net with a powerfull drag flick.
   There was total collapse as Malaysia kept giving away penalty corners, while their attacks were harmless whizzing balls from left to the right side of the South African goalpost.
   However, luck favoured coach K. Dharmaraj's boys when a shot from outside the semi-circle by Nor Aqmal  Ghaffar was deflected in as an own goal by goalkeeper Rene de la Peyre in the 29th minute.
   After that blunder, Rene pulled off three point-blank saves to keep his team-mates in the match until the half-time hooter.
   Dharmaraj must have worked his magic in the dressing room, because his charges came charging out out and after a series of attacks, Firhan Ashaari scores Malaysia's second goal with a cool attitude in the 42nd minute.
   Thand hgandful of Malaysian supporters at the stadium felt that it was game on after that goal, but there was more erratic play as they lived dangerously with a slim lead.
   They hung by a shoe-string when in the 54th minute, South Africa won a penalty corner but it was turned into a penalty stroke when skipper Fitri Shaari defended with his body. Malaysia asked for a TV referral, but the stroke was upheld.
    Matthew Brown stepped to the spot, and faced goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman. However, Hafizuddin brought off a super save and Malaysian lived to keep the slim lead with 16 minutes left to play.
   And they killed the clock to take a step closer to the quarter-finals.

Group B: France and Australia in quarter-finals

AUSTRALIA confirmed their quarter-final spot from Group B when they beat Spain 2-0 at the Dhayan Chand Stadium in New Delhi.
   And France followed suit from the same group, when they beat Argentina 3-2 for six points after two matches.
   The Australian win, came at the back of a  5-2 win against Argentina on the opening day, and the Aussies have

France next to decide if they top the group or finish second.
    Australia, the bronze medallists in the 2009 Malaysia-Singapore Junior World Cup, only had two weeks of

training, and two friendly matches against New Zealand before heading to New Delhi.
   Second half goals from captain Daniel Beale and his fellow Queenslander Daniel Beale won them the match.
    "Even though we won two straigh matches, but the boys still play in patches and this is not their full potential.

However, after today, I believe the players will perform better," said Australia Coach, Paul Gaudoin.
   Spain Captain Alejendro de Frutos said: "It was a tough match against Australia, and the defeat has placed us in a

very difficult position in this tourrnament, however, we need to continue and win our next game against Argentina tomorrow (today)”.

JUnior World Cup: Results and standings

  RESULTS: Group A: Belgium 5 Egypt 0, Pakistan 1 Germany 6.
Group C: South Korea 2 Netherlands 3, India 3 Canada 2.

                                P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
BELGIUM                 2   2  0   0  8   1  6
GERMANY               2   1  0   1  7   4  3
PAKISTAN                2   1  0   1  4   8  3
EGYPT                      2   0  0   2  2   8  0

                                P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA             1   1  0   0  5   2  3
FRANCE                  1   1  0   0  4   3  3
SPAIN                      1   0  0   1  3   4  0
ARGENTINA             1   0  0   1  2   5  0

                               P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
NETHERLANDS    2   2  0   0  6   4  6
S KOREA               2   1  0   1  9   7  3
INDIA                     2   1  0   1  5   5  3
CANADA                2   0  0   2  6   10 0

                              P  W  D  L  F  A Pts
MALAYSIA             1   1  0   0  3   2  3
S AFRICA               1   1  0   0  2   1  3
N ZEALAND           1   0  0   1  2   3  0
ENGLAND              1   0  0   1  1   2  0

Malaysia as chaotic as Delhi traffic...

MALAYSIA were not at their best, but the three points they shaved off New Zealand was a valuable step towards their target of finishing among the best in the Junior World Cup in New Delhi.
   Skipper Fitri Saari and his men were as chaotic as the New Delhi traffic, where rules are made to be broken by every form on wheels. Whizzing in and out, honking like crazy, and daring the other driver to cross their path is the attitude of the typical India driver.
   And not to mention the carts pulled by horses, elephants, and even camels freely intermingling with the traffic with chaotic harmony.
   But there was no harmony in Malaysia's 3-2 win over the Kiwis, as they almost lost the script in their chaotic approach of the match.
    And coach K. Dharmaraj summed it up when he said "we were lucky". But luck sometimes runs out of the New Delhi drivers too, as almost almost the cars, bikes and trucks have dents and scars to remind one of their mistakes on the road.
   Malaysia can no longer depend on luck in their remaining matches against England and South Africa. For the record, South Africa beat England 2-1, and Malaysia will be meeting the Africaans today at the Dhyan Chand Stadium.
    "At times, we were really reckless against New Zealand and we can't affford that in the remaining two matches. Starting with South Africa, we need to win all matches and not rely on other results to move into the last-eight," said Fitri.
   The Evel Knievel dare-devil attitude must only be displayed in the opponents semi-circle, and not in ther own back-yard which gave away nine silly penalty corners to the Kiwis.
   "Reallistically speaking, there ar no easy teams in the World Cup. Every team came here with a mission, and to take South Africa lightly would be foolish," said Dharmaraj.
    Foolish were Pakistan, when they toyed around with Egypt in Group A, and the score stood at 2-2 at one time, before they had to bring out their best to win 3-2.
    South African coach Darryn Galagher, knew the score when he said: "We came here knowing well that Malaysia would be the team to beat in our Group (D) and it will not be an easy match, as we need to counter their speedy strikers."
    Speedy, but not sharp, were the Malaysian strikers in their opening match.
    "Now that the first match of the tournament is out of the way, I believe my players would be much more settled after a day's rest. We came here with a mission, and at no cost, would stray from it," said Dharmaraj.
    Dharmaraj's personal target, just like the other 15 coaches, is to see his charges win the gold. And the first step towards it would be to collect full nine points in Group D, and not wait for other results to work in their favour to play in the quarter-finals.