Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Malaysia 3 India 2

MALAYSIA beat Asian Games champions India 3-2 in a thrilling Azlan Shah Cup match in Ipoh yesterday, to keep their hopes alive of playing in the final.
  Coach Tai Beng Hai's men played well in patches, and took the lead twice only to give India back a life-line on both occassions, but Shahrun Nabil nailed a late winner in the 58th minute and now, Malaysia must beat South Korea today, and Canada on Saturday for an outside shot at playing in the final.
  The game was delayed by an hour due to torrential rain, and after the negaraku, Malaysian goalkeeper S. Kumar @Spiderman was rewarded for his 250th international appearance.
  Malaysia were ontop of India in the first quarter, but failed to break the deadlock. 
  Faizal Saari, who skipped two months of training, missed a sitter in the opening minutes of the match, but made up with a penalty corner goal.
  Baljit Singh dribbled three India players and made a reverse stick pass to Faizal who made a darting run into the semi-circle but failed to shoot straight. For the record, Faizal scored 12 goals in the World League Round Two in Singapore but scored his first in three matches yesterday.
  It was a 17th minute penalty corner, Malaysia's first, and Faizal's drag flick almost tore the netting.
  But three minutes later, India won their first penalty corner and a low push by Rupinder Singh beat the postman for the equaliser, and the score remained until the half-time break.
  After the re-start, Malaysia claimed the lead again when a move from Firhan Ashari found unmarked Haziq Samsul who tucked in from close range in the 35th minute for 2-1.
  Malaysia made too many mistakes in the fourth quarter and gave away easy penalty cornees and in the 50th minute, India won their fifth and Rupinder equalised with a powerful drive.
  Shahrun Nabil had the last say in the 58th minute, when he scored a classic goal to give Malaysia a well deserved win.
  Malaysia play South Korea today, but Korean coach Shin Seok Kyo failed to show up for the press conference .. for the second time in a row.
  Shin was warned by the tournament director for missing the press conference after the Canada match on Monday, but he still refused to show up for interview yesterday.
   New Zealand and Australia have maximum points after three matches, and barring upsets in the remaining two matches, the Oceania neighbours will play in the final on Sunday.
  Yesterday, the Kiwis trashed Canada 5-0, while Australia easily beat South Korea 5-2 with a hat-trick from Jamie Dwyer, who helped the Aussies win their second consecutive World Cup title last year.
  Today, Australia and New Zealand clash and a draw will see them play in the final. Australia have India as their final opponents, while New Zealand face South Korea on Saturday.


                   P  W   D L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA          3  3   0 0  15 4   9
N ZEALAND          3  3   0 0  11 3   9
S KOREA               3  1   1 1  7  8   4
MALAYSIA           3  1   0 2  7  9   3
INDIA                    3  0   1 2  5  7   1
CANADA             3  0   0 3  1  15  0

  RESULTS: Canada 0 New Zealand 5, South Korea 2 Australia 5, Malaysia 3 India 2.
  April 9: India v Canada (4pm), New Zealand v Australia (6pm), Malaysia v South Korea (8pm).
  April 10: REST DAY.
  April 11: Australia v India (4pm), South Korea v New Zealand (6pm), Malaysia v Canada (8pm).

S. Kumar weaves his web..

ASIA'S number one goalkeeper S. Kumar is now officially the new Spiderman of Malaysia.
   The accolade was first given to soccer legend R. Arumugam who defended the soccer goalmouth in the 70s. Kumar rightfully earned the title on Monday when he defended with tenacity to help Malaysia keep their heads high in a thrilling 3-2 defeat to Australia in the Azlan Shah Cup.
   World number 12 Malaysia had a fairytale match and Australia had to dig deep into their reserves with World Cup star Jamie Dwyer, brought out from retirement, using all his experience before finally beating Kumar with a penalty stroke and then a field goal.
   The Spiderman, from Tampin Negri Sembilan, saved at least eight point blank shots and six penalty corner attempts to frustrate Australia. For the record, Australia retained the 2014 World Cup by hammering Olympic Silver medallists the Netherlands 6-1. Dwyer scored the sixth goal at the Haque final.
   "The feeling is great as not only I, but the entire team played good hockey against Australia but at the same time Im also frustrated because we came close to stealing a point but lost out on experience to the world champions," said Kumar.
    At the Hague, Australia were high up almost touching the stars, while Kumar and his mates finished rooted at the bottom.
    Kumar took Malaysia into the World Cup when he defended his goalmouth from Japan strikers like a lion in the World League Semifinals penalty shoot-out in Johor Baru. And in January, he was there again to stop Japan in a penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals of the World League Round Two to take Malaysia into the WL Semi-finals in Belgium.
   Belgium offers tickets to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics: "Ive never played in the Olympics and with age fast catching up 
With me, Belgium could be my last chance and Im not about to cave in without giving my very best," said Kumar, 35.
    Last year Malaysia were hammered 8-3 by Australia in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup but Kumar did not play in the tournament as he had personal matters to attend to.
   Juniors goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman was the gatekeeper then, and Australia had a field beating the kid who made his Azlan Shah Cup debut.
    Former national coach K. Dharmaraj who is now a National Sports Council development coach, is in Ipoh for the tournament and lamented on the lack of a capable replacement when Kumar retires.
   "Kumar is among the best goalkeepers in the world right now, but sadly we do not have a capable replacement when he decides to call it a day. There are many juniors who aspire to become goalkeepers and some have been sent to the Netherlands right as we speak to make them on par or  even better than Kumar. But it will take time and Im afraid there will be a big vacuum for years in the goalkeeping department and that could mean trouble for the national team. Goalkeeping is a special department that needs urgent attention because a country which is weak in that department can never break into the top five in the world," said Dharmaraj.
    Malaysia play India today and another defeat could see the silver medallists fighting to avoid the last spot in Ipoh.
   India coach Paul van Ass is confident his men will prevail: "India played well in both the matches but did not get the desired results as even though the my player have good skills, I still need to strenghten the tactical and mental side of the game and that's what we are here for. Malaysia are a very challenging side but I believe we have the advantage."
    Asian Games champions India have already qualified for the Olympics, so they can afford to experiment with their new coach van Ass in Ipoh as well as the World League Semifinals in Belgium.
    For Malaysia, the Azlan Shah Cup is the last avenue for top exposure before heading to Belgium in June for a shot at Olympic glory which the country last experienced in Sydney 2000.


                                P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA           2   2   0   0  10  2   6
N ZEALAND           2  2   0   0   6    3   6
S KOREA               2   1   1   0   5   3   4
INDIA                     2   1   1   0   3   4   1
MALAYSIA            2   0   0   2   4   7   0
CANADA               2  0   0   2    1  10  0

  April 7: REST DAY.
  April 8: Canada v New Zealand (4pm), South Korea v Australia (6pm), Malaysia v India (8pm).
  April 9: India v Canada (4pm), New Zealand v Australia (6pm), Malaysia v South Korea (8pm).

  April 10: REST DAY.
  April 11: Australia v India (4pm), South Korea v New Zealand (6pm), Malaysia v Canada (8pm).