Saturday, January 17, 2015

World League Round Two Results Day 1


                          P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
Malaysia       1   1    0   0  5  1  3
Oman             1   1    0   0  3  2  3
Singapore    1   0    0   1  2  3  0
Ukraine          1   0    0   1  1  5  0

                     P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
Poland       1   1    0   0  6  0  3
Japan         1   1    0   0  5  1  3
B'ladesh    1   0    0   1  1  5  0
Mexico       1   0    0   1  0  6  0

  RESULTS: Group A: Malaysia 5 Ukraine 1, Oman 3 Singapore 2; Group B: Japan 5 Bangladesh 1, Poland 6 Mexico 0.

FIXTURES (Malaysian time):
  Jan 18: Group B: Bangladesh v Mexico (3pm), Poland v Japan (5.30pm).
  Jan 19: Group A: Ukraine v Singapore (3pm), Oman v Malaysia
  Jan 20: Group A: Ukraine v Oman (5.30pm), Malaysia v Singapore
(8pm); Group B: Japan v Mexico (9am), Bangladesh v Poland (3pm).
  Jan 21: REST DAY
  Jan 22: Quarter-finals
  Jan 23: Fifth-Eighth
  Jan 24: Semi-finals
  Jan 25: Final and placing matches.

Malaysia 5 Ukraine 1

MALAYSIA struggled in the early stages but went on to beat Ukraine 5-1 in the World League Second Round when the forward-line failed miserably and the blushes were saved by penalty corners at the Sengkang Stadium in Singapore.
    There was no understanding in the scoring semi-circle in the first three quarters, and if they continue to turn easy matches into troubling ones, misery awaits them in the knock-out stages.
   "Yes it was a slow start and I attribute it to the newly laid pitch. But when my players got used to in late in the match, the match was won on a comfortable score and what matters most is the three points in the opening match.
   "Penalty corners, even though few (five) saved the day, and now we are looking forward to better matches in this tournament," said Malaysian coach Tai Beng Hai.
    Tournament top seed Malaysia started in a chaotic manner as Ukraine defended with numbers in the first quarter of the match.
   However, in the 13th minute, a Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin's shot at goal went sailing into the goalmouth but just to make sure, Faizal Saari connected it in for the lead.
    The second quarter was much better as Malaysia found their first penalty corner of the match in the 19th minute, and Razie Rahim's drive hit a defenders' leg and a penalty stroke was awarded.
   Razie stepped up to the spot, and flicked in for a 2-0 lead.
   The celebrations ended in the 24th minute when a freak deflection from Vitali Kalinchuk sent the ball crashing to the top of the net beating a surprised looking Malaysian goalkeeper S. Kumar.
    The score was a narrow 2-1 even though Malaysia are ranked 13th while Ukraine 24th in the world.
    Malaysia's second penalty corner by Faizal hit the post, but the third penalty corner in the 36th minute saw Razie's drive stopped by the goalkeeper Laroslav Hordey but Izwan Firdaus was at hand to slam in the rebound for 3-1.
    Izwan again scored off a penalty corner rebound goal in the 53rd minute to bring the score to a 4-1, while Haziq Shamsul scored in the 57th minute to make it a respectable win.
   Meanwhile in Group B, World No 14 Japan whipped Bangladesh 5-1 but coach Kang Keon Wook felt the scoreline did not do justice to the match.
    "We did not expect such a big scoreline and I feel that we were quite lucky as Bangladesh are fast closing the gap with us. We do not have the best players in Singapore as after the Asian Games many of our seasoned campaigners picked up injuries playing in the local league and I had to make many changes and inject some fresh faces.
   "Even then, we hope to play in the final and qualify for the World League Semi-finals," said Kang.

Cant afford a slip-up against Ukraine...

MALAYSIA will face unknown entity Ukraine in the curtain raiser of the World League Round Two in Sinapore today, and they need to score early goals against the robust and hard-playing Russians for a good start.
    Playing in Group A, coach Tai Beng Hai's world no 13 team can't afford any more slip-ups, as Ukraine are ranked 24th, Oman 22nd and Singapore 36th.
    Japan, ranked 14th, are in Group B with Poland (18th), Bangladesh (30th) and Mexico (35th).
    Stakes are very high for Malaysia, as the top three teams qualify for the WL Semi-finals and a shot at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The last time Malaysia played in the Olympics was in Sydney 2000.
   The only inside into the Ukranian style was unveiled when they played Bangladesh in a friendly and won 2-1, but Bangladesh coach K. Gobinathan said his team should have won by 10 goals if not for the missed sitters.
   And that, missing sitters, was Malaysia's bane last year.
   Skipper Razie Rahim has a double task of defending penalty corners as well as scoring them to keep Malaysia afloat in the tournament. All eight teams qualify for the quarter-finals, but Malaysia need to finish tops in their Group to justufy their rankings and enter the knock-out stages on a high.
    "The pitch is new and a little bumpy in certain areas, but not at the penalty corner areas and in traning, my attempts at goal have been satisfactory. Also, at the Asian Games (where he scored nine goals) I was the only flicker but here, I have Faizal Saari and the options are better," said the lanky Razie.
   The forward line of Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Faizal Saari, Izwan Firdaus, Firhan Ashaari and Haziq Samsul can't afford too miss sitters, as lower rakned teams normally grow in confidence when the score remains 0-0 for a long period.
    In midfield, Malaysia has one of the best in pint-sized Faiz Helmi  who barely stands at 5 feet, but has not shown any fear when playing robust and teller Europeans in his 66 caps for the country. He first played in the Champions Challenge in Argentina in 2012 and is among the main-stays now.
    "As always, I am ready and fearless against any team in the world. This tournament is no different as our aim is to win place in the final and qualify for the WL Semi-finals early. We will be discussing about Ukraine later tonight (yesterday) and plan for a win," said the small-built player with a big heart.
    In Faiz, Malaysia has a role model on how to become champions in Singapore.

Hawgood: At least 30 months to deliver...

NEW broom Australian Neil Hawgood believes Malaysia has many skilful and talented players, but he will need at least two and a half years before he can turn them into medal winners.
   Hawgood has been hired as consultant for the Singapore World League Round Two, and that was his assessment after watching coach Tai Beng Hai's players train at the Sengkang Stadium.
   "Well it took me two and a half years to turn the India women's team around, (and that should be the yardstick)," he said yesterday.
    The senior Indian women qualified for the World Cup, while the juniors won bronze in the Junior World Cup.
    Hawgood is being courted as the national coach, but first, the National Sports Council (NSC) wants the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) to clean up their amended constitution before talks about a foreign coach can move further.
    His contract with India expired in December, and if all goes well Hawgood could just be foreign coach that MHC have been trying to secure for the last year.
     When asked if he will adapt the Australian style in Malaysia: "No, that is not the approach I will take as every country has its own strength in playing hockey and I will work to improve some weak departments but not the sytle of play as Malaysia has very skilful players and I will work with this unique charachter and balance it out to bring out the best," said Hawgood.
    Malaysia has seen many foreign coaches before Hawgood and even the likes of Australian Terry Walsh, and Germans Volker Knapp, Paul Lissek and South African Paul Revington could not do much to improve the world rankings.
    Malaysia are stuck on no 13: "World rankings do not mean a thing because world no 20 teams have finished fifth in the World League. India are the best in Asia, but second to South Korea in the world.
   "The main aim is to develop a winning mentality, and with it, medals will come and naturally, the rankings will also be better."
   In Singapore Hawgood said Malaysia have had a very good preparation, and if the players focus on the task at hand, winning a gold medal is not beyond this team.