Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tequila Sunrise at Sengkang Thursday

MALAYSIA'S quarter-final against Mexico today is a warm-up to a bigger task at hand, as a Japan semi-finals await them in the World League Round Two at the Sengkang Stadium in Singapore.
   Japan play Ukraine in the quarters, and judging by form and ranking, the Japanese are hot favourites to advance to the last four.
   As for Mexico, they received beatings from Poland (6-0), Bangladesh (5-1) and Japan (6-0) to finish at the bottom of Group B. They meet Malaysia at 9am and surely, there will not be a Tequila Sunrise at the Sengkang Stadium for the South Americans.
   The Mexican's were not willing partners to travel to Singapore, because they had finished second behind Chile in WL Round 1 in Guadalajara but when Fiji pulled out of the tournament here, the International Hockey Federation threw them a life-line which they gladly grabbed and traveled half the globe.
   In WL 1, Mexico lost 3-1 to Chile, beat Guatemala 15-1 and drew 0-0 with Brazil before winning the shoot-out 3-0.
   "We were a little slow off the block in our first match against Ukraine (5-1) and I believe it was because the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League) had just ended and the players were a little rusty physically. But the win against Singapore (16-1) saw a better performance and I believe the semi-finals could be a little tougher, but we are ready to face either Ukraine or Japan," said Malaysian coach Tai Beng Hai.
    Beng Hai did not even mention Mexico, because a win is assured, while only the scoreline remains to be recorded.
    Malaysia, who beat Singapore 8-2 in the Asian Games, were hardly challenged by the hosts at their own back-yard, but even in heavy defeat, their 500-odd fans cheered them until the final whistle, and them gave them a standing ovation.
    However, the Singapore Press tore their association apart for the huge defeat, suggesting drastic changes as they will host the Sea Games hockey in a few months time.
   Faizal Saari, who scored six out of the 16, said he is able to handle his temperament   and play better hockey after being benched for the Commonwealth and Asian Games for unruly and disruptive behaviour.
    "I'm much more composed now, and this is my highest scoring margin in an international tournament, but I hope to to even better and help the team win gold in this tournament," said Fazial.
   Faizal will get a chance to practice his shooting against Mexico, and he might just break his personal record.
     Malaysia have the best chance to win gold in Singapore, and advance to the World League Semi-finals at either Belgium or Argentina which offer tickets to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, a platform where Malaysia last played in Sydney 2000.