Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ireland get the better of Ye Ol England..

IRELAND tore the formbook apart when they held world no 5 Britain to a 2-2 draw in Group B of the World League Semi-finals in Antwerp, Belgium yesterday.
  The Green Machine, ranked 14th, came back from two goals down to hold Britain. It was the first match of the tournament for Ireland, while Britain were also held to a 2-2 draw by Belgium in an earlier match.
  Malaysia play Ireland next on Thursday (25th), and it looks like touch-and-go game, as the Irish have a mix of young and experience on their side.
  Ireland coach Craig Fulton was glad with the draw, but is looking forward to a better outing in the next match against Malaysia.
  "Yes, we did have a good game today (yesterday) and could have pulled off a win if not for hitting the post three times. However, we are now looking forward to our next match against Malaysia and its not about the opponents, but how well we imporve ourselves and cut down the mistakes," said Fulton.
  Fultom was also the coach when Malaysia beat Ireland 4-2 for the Champions Challenge bronze in Kuantan last year.
  "The score was 2-2 and the last 10 minutes we lost the script and crashed. But that was a different tournament, and even though Malaysia have an experienced team which has consistently played in many tournaments, we need to play our game and winning every match here is what we need to do after this draw," said Fulton.
  Britain coach Bobby Crutchley was naturally disappointed: "Ireland did not play to their ranking (14th) and with two draws in this tournament, we need to play much better from now on."

Looking for an Irish cheer!

MALAYSIA last played Ireland in the Champions Challenge in Kuantan last year, and the hosts snapped up the bronze medal with a convincing 4-2 score.
  But the Irish did deny Malaysia a spot in the London Olympics, when they held us to a 1-1 draw at the Dublin Qualifier on St Patrick's day.
  This scribe was there to watch both the matches, one played during a massive parade in chilly Dublin, the other played under sunny conditions and sea breeze in Kuantan.
  In Dublin, Ireland went on to play in the final against South Korea, and the Asian giants beat them to the Olympics.
  Malaysia play Ireland on the 25th, 8pm, and the only route for coach Tai Beng Hai and his men is a win or it will be bust all the way in the next two matches.
  Ireland, ranked 14th, are two rungs below Malaysia: "Rankings do not matter in this tournament as every team is chasing for a spot in the Olympics and playing on a different level than what they are capable of normally," said Malaysian coach Beng Hai.
  China were a classic example, as even though ranked 31st and 19 below Malaysia they played gallantly and only lost 2-3.
  The matches here have been close, as even Pakistan could only beat Poland 2-1, while India scraped past France 3-2.
  Belgium and Britain played to a 2-2 draw, while the only match that went to rankings was when Australia thrashed France 10-0.
  On Monday, the Malaysian team were given a free day, and they went around in groups sightseeing and shopping in Antwerp to rest their edge nerves, as their next match was only three days away.
  Yesterday, there was some light training and tomorrow will be another rest day for Malaysia before the Ireland do-or-die. 

Sarjit saw the power in Zidane..

TENGKU Ahmad Tajuddin @zidane is a pint sized player who almost did not make the national team because he is also bowlegged.
  Back in 2004, a national selector stood by this scribe and said: "Its a pity that Tengku Ahmad will never make the national squad, because not only is he physically small-framed, but also bowlegged. This would be a big disadvantage when he plays bigger European players."
  We were then watching Tengku Ahmad running circles around his team-mates in a selection friendly for the 2005 Rotterdam Junior World Cup. His nick-name Zidane was cemented after the friendly, as he showed speed and agility like the Algerian/French soccer star.
  Luckily, the coach then, Sarjit Singh, saw differently from the said scout and named Zidane, from Perlis, into the training squad and he not only impressed in Rotterdam, but went on to play for Malaysia consistently and has more than 200 caps.
  He has scored many important goals and made many deft passes for Malaysia in the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Cup, and many other tournaments around the globe.
  At 29, he is at the threshold of his career and two matches away from playing in the Olympics -- 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
  Playing a feeders role now, Zidane's deft passes helped Malaysia beat China 3-2 and he is now looking forward to the challenge of his life-time -- Ireland.
  "It feels like this is the moment that I have been waiting for all my life. When we came here we were drilled that its only three matches to the Olympics, and we have won one.
  "Beating Ireland is a must if we want to play in the Olympics and there is no other option. It will not be easy, but we are ready to give our very best.
  "Ireland will be the real test on our true strength, before we take on bigger giants Belgium and Britain," said Zidane.
  If Malaysia beats Ireland, Britain and Belgium will no longer matter. What will matter is the third match -- in the quarter-finals -- as a win here will cement Malaysia's spot in the Olympics.
  Three matches, one down, two more to go.