Saturday, March 15, 2014

Favourites Australia still rusty...

AUSTRALIAN coach Ric Charlesworth feels his side is still rusty and need more time to click, and he said this right after they demolished China 7-0 in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh on Thursday.
  Australia are the best bet to lift the 23rd Azlan Shah Cup crown, which will take their tally to eighth titles, and Charlesworth knows that his side are almost invincible in Ipoh.
    "I am happy with the win, but not with the way we played today, but that is to be expected as we just assembled as a team recently after our players returned from the HIL (Hockey India League).
    "We are still rusty, and hopefully after a few more matches, the players will start clicking better," said Charlesworth.
   World No 1 Australia are not only good for the Azlan Shah Cup, but also contenders for the World Cup in Netherlands, and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
    "It is really sad that India and Pakistan could not make it for this edition, but Australia have always supported this tournament and we really enjoy playing here. This edition also has World Cup sides in Malaysia, South Korea and South Africa and we expect our toughest matches to come from this three teams," said Charlesworth.
   Again Charlesworth was being diplomatic, as in a recent tour of Perth coach K. Dharmaraj's men were pommeled by a mixed Australian side. Malaysia had lost 5-1, 7-1, 9-0 and 4-2 to the mixed Australian national squad; and drew 3-3 with Australian Institute of Sports. 
    Malaysia have a two-day rest after beating South Africa 2-1, and they play Australia in the last day of the group stages, which could turn out to be a blessing as it will be a mammoth task to stop the Australians from scoring.
    Malaysian skipper Azlan Misron was relieved his young side edged South Africa, and he is always ready to help the seven young boys who earned their first caps on Thursday.
   "I will use all my experience (324 caps) to help this young players improve their game, it is my duty, as we need to play much better in the next match against  South Korea (Sunday) as I expect this to be our toughest match where we need to collect three points if we want to play in the final again. We need to make sure we have enough points to enter the final before we play our last match against Australia," said the experienced skipper.
   South Korea are the Asian Games champions, and also finished fourth in the World League Semi-finals in Johor Baru to qualify for the World Cup. Malaysia did not meet Korea in Johor Baru, as they were in Group A while the national team were in Group B.
    Malaysia were edged 3-2 by Australia in the final of the last edition, with the winner coming four seconds from the hooter.