Saturday, January 10, 2015



Poles make early claim..

POLAND are dead serious to claim the World League Round Two crown in Singapore on Jan 17-25.
  And they have left no stone unturned as before coming to Malaysia on Dec 27, as they played matches in Belgium and Spain and their youthful team did not disappoint manager Tomasz Cichy.
  "We want to win the tournament and have been to Belgium and Spain to play matches before heading to Malaysia for acclimatization. We have a team with an average age of 24, and they have been improving steadily.
  "Possibly, we will meet Malaysia either in the semi-finals of final, and we are ready for them," said Cichy.
  Three teams from the Singapore tournament will advance to the World League Semi-finals in either Belgium or Argentina. The Semi-finals offer three teams from each venue to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics.
  But fourth or fifth placed teams in both the WL Semi-finals also have a chance to play in Rio, provided teams which have already qualified by winning their continental championships finish among the medallists.
  Malaysia, who finished fifth in the WL Semi-finals in Johor Baru, got the chance to play in the Netherlands World Cup on this continental clause.
  The stakes in Singapore are high as top seeded Malaysia, ranked 13th in the World, only have Oman (22nd), Ukraine (24th) and Singapore (36th) for company in Group A. Poland, ranked 18th, are in Group B with Japan (14th), Bangladesh (30th) and Mexico (35th).
  But Malaysia are well known to crumble when playing lower ranked teams like the 4-2 defeat in the hands of World No 29th ranked Papua New Guinea in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
  Malaysia played two friendlies against the Poles, and the result was not encouraging as the Poles greased the hosts to a 4-4 draw then a 4-3 win.
  However, Malaysia had more than 10 scoring chances in both the matches, and according to goalkeeper S. Kumar: "We should have won by a 10-goal margin if not for poor shooting in the semi-circle, and this is what we can't afford in Singapore."
  That, could be coach Tai Beng Hai's biggest challenge when he plots the downfall of minnows in the Group stages.
  All eight teams qualify for the quarter-finals, and if Malaysia play to their seeding, they should top Group A and play either Bangladesh or Mexico in the last eight.
  In the semi-finals, either Japan or Poland are expected to be the hurdle.