Saturday, October 22, 2016

Everything points to a Malaysian victory...

RESULTS: India 1 South Korea 1, China 2 Japan 1.

THE last time Malaysia played Japan in a four-match Test series in Kakamigahara in June, coach Stephen van Huizen's men were whipped beyond recognition.
  Both the teams will meet again in the Asian Champions Trophy Saturday at the Kuantan Hockey Stadium.
  Malaysia are on a high after beating defending champions Pakistan 4-2 and China 5-1, and a win against Japan will place them in the ACT semi-finals.
  Coach Stephen van Huizen has his full squad in Kuantan, unlike in Kakamigahara where seven regulars could not make the trip and they lost 5-1, 3-1, 4-3 and drew 1-1 in the Test.
  Japan, on the other hand, were whipped 10-2 by India in their opening ACT match.
  The seven regulars who did not make the trip to Kakamigahara but are in Kuantan are goalkeeper S. Kumar, Faiz Helmi, Shahril Saabah, Fitri Shaari, Faizal Shaari, Razie Rahim and Nabil Fiqri.
  "We know the stakes are high against Japan as a win will see us in the semi-finals with two matches (South Korea and India) in hand. We have had two good matches, and even though Japan did not start off well, we can't take them lightly," said Van Huizen.
  Skipper Shukri Mutalib was also realistic.
  "There were moments in both the matches when we almost lost the script after taking leads and we will need to improve in that department. We took the lead against Pakistan but let them claw back, and I am particularly not happy with the way we played in the last five minutes against China," said Shukri, who made his debut as in the 2005 Rotterdam Junior World Cup.
  There was no rest for the players yesterday, as they plotted Japan's defeat.
  "Video's of Japan's matches as well as other information will be passed to the players so that they know what to expect tomorrow (today). And taking them lightly just because they lost 10-2 to India would be disastrous," said Van Huizen.
  Japan coach Yamabori Takahiko is down without four players, and knows Malaysia has a full battery for the ACT.
  "Yes, we won comfortably in Kakamigahara, but then, Malaysia did not have seven regulars. And in Kuantan, we do not have four of our senior players and it would be a different game. However, we have our plans to rise from the heavy defeat in the hands of India," said Yamabori.  Malaysia have been doing just enough for full points, but they need to improve on their semi-circle shooting to beat Japan comfortably, and they go for maximum points against South Korea and tournament favourites India.
  RESULTS: India 1 South Korea 1, China 2 Japan 1.
  SATURDAY: India v Pakistan (6.30pm), Malaysia v Japan (8.30pm).
  SUNDAY: South Korea v China (6.30pm).


         P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
MALAYSIA 2  2  0  0  9  3  6
INDIA    2  1  1  0  11 3  4
PAKISTAN 2  1  0  1  3  4  3
CHINA    2  1  0  1  3  6  3
S. KOREA 2  0  1  1  1  2  1
JAPAN    2  0  0  2  3  12 0