Sunday, April 12, 2015

Azlan Shah Cup: From silver to wood..

SILVER medallists Malaysia ended as wooden spoonist when they were beaten 3-1 By Canada in a penalty shoot-out in the 24th Edition of the Azlan Shah Cup yesterday.
  There was not much of change in attitude from the pool matches, as they kept letting in easy goals after taking hard-fought leads and the match ended 4-4 and had to be decided by shoot-out. And from back-to-back silver medals in 2014 and 2015, Malaysia ended last.
  In the shoot-out, Firhan Ashaari, Haziq Samsul and Nabil Fiqri missed their attempts, with the only goal coming from Faizal Saari.
  For the record, the last time Malaysia finished last was in 2011, when seven teams competed.
  Malaysian coach Tai Beng Hai did not turn up for the Press Conference, and manager Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad sat on the hot seat.
  "Even though it is disheartening to finish last, I believe its a blessing because after a high in Singapore, we were brought down to earth weeks before the Olympic qualifier in Belgium," said Nur Azmi.
  Malaysia were champions in the World League Round Two in Singapore, by whitewashing teams like Mexico and Singapore.
  "We need a hard re-look at the boys, and rectify fast our weaknesses especially in defense. If we can'e even beat Canada (ranked 14) we are going to be in trouble if we go to Belgium with this same attitude," Nur Azmi.
  The Belgium Olympic Qualifier is on June 20 to July 5, where Malaysia will have to beat the likes of Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland and China in Group B. And in the quarter-finals, they are likey to face India, Pakistan or even Australia.
  Yesterday, Malaysia played under pouring rain, but still, the stadium was half-filled when the match started at 3.40pm.
  Razie Rahim ignited the fire with a second minute penalty corner, but Canada equalised via Gabriel Ho-Garcia off a field attempt in the 16th minute.
  But three minutes later, Faizal Saari perfected a penalty corner to give Malaysia the lead again, and Firhan Ashaari made it 3-1 in the 23rd minute when he slotted home a field goal.
  It continued raining, but a determined Canada kept pushing forward and were rewarded when Ho-Garcia slotted home his second and the score stood at 3-2 at half-time.
  And three minutes into the half-time, 33rd minute, Ho-Garcia scored another field goal for a hat-trick and Malaysia looked like they might lose it.
  Faizal then got his brace in the 37th minute, and Malaysia were back in command at 4-3. But Matthew Sarmento again gave Canada a life-line in the 49th with a field attempt to make it 4-4.
  Malaysia had beaten Canada 4-1 in their last pool match on Saturday: 
  RESULTS: Final -- Australia 2 New Zealand 2 (NZ win shoot-out 3-1); Third-Fourth: India 2 South Korea 2 (India win shoot-out 4-1); Fifth-Sixth: Malaysia 4 Canada 4 (Canada win shoot-out 3-1).