MALAYSIA held Belgium to a 2-2 draw in their second friendly at Antwerp.
After losing 3-1 in the first friendly, the national players were much more composed in the second match in their preparation for the World League Semi-finals.
The World League Semi-Finals, on June 20-July 5 in Belgium, is a qualifier for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Malaysia are in Group B with Belgium, Ireland, China and Britain. In Group A are Australia, India, Pakistan, Poland and France.
Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin gave Malaysia the lead in the third minute, but Belgium equalised in the 10th minute. Shahril Saabah re-took the lead with a reverse stick shot in the 37th, but Belgium drew the match with a 43rd minute penalty corner.
For the record, Belgium beat Malaysia 6-2 in the World Cup at the Hague, Netherlands.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
NATIONAL Juniors team manager Mirnawan Nawawi feels Malaysia should just field his charges for the Sea Games, as they have been in super form in an ongoing series of friendlies against Singapore.
The first match at the Sengkang Stadium in Singapore was a little shaky as Malaysia only won 2-1, but three more friendlies produced the desired results.
The national juniors won 7-0, 5-0 and 5-2 against the Singapore seniors. The last friendly will be held today.
"My personal opinion is that we should just field the juniors for the Sea Games without including senior players dropped from the World League Semi-finals training squad.
"This is because I feel that we need to expose them in a tournament environment to get them ready for the Junior Asia Cup at the end of the year which is a Junior World Cup qualifier.
"Juniors have shown good form in the friendlies but there is still room for improvement and we can achieve that by playing as a unit in the Sea Games," said Mirnawan.
Not wanting to belittle the other Sea Games opponents Thailand, Myanmar and hosts Singapore, Mirnawan said his charges will have to be on their toes to defend the gold.
"Singapore is a good side and it will not be easy playing them in the Sea Games. However, for the future of the country as well as early preparations for the Junior Asia Cup, I feel we must field the juniors without help from any senior players," said Mirnawan.
For the record, in the last meeting at the World League Round Two Malaysian seniors whitewashed Singapore 16-1.
"We need to win the Sea Games gold medal as a boost for the Sultan of Johor Cup where we will play against Pakistan, India, Australia, Argentina and Britain.
"We will again play Pakistan and India in the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan, for a ticket to the Junior World Cup. So I feel this team needs to beat Asean opponents before they can start looking at the Asian region," said Mirnawan.
The Sultan of Johor Cup will be held on Oct 11-18 at the Taman Daya Stadium. Malaysia were champions in the inaugural meet in 2011, while Australia emerged champions the next edition. India claimed back-to-back golds in 2013 and 2014.
In the Junir Asia Cup, in Kuantan in November, defending champions Malaysia must finish among the top-four to play in New Delhi in 2016. For the record, Malaysia finished fourth in the 2013 Junior World Cup -- also held in New Delhi.
In the women's Sea Games event Malaysia will defend their gold against, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.