Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Defensive blues

ASIA CUP: Kumar admits backline has not been impressive

  GOALKEEPER S. Kumar holds the key to Malaysia making the  Asia Cup semi-finals  at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh today.

But going by form, Kumar might allow the Japanese in instead.
Voted the best goalkeeper in Asia in 2011, Kumar and his main defenders Razie Rahim and Baljit Singh have been guilty of letting in five goals in two matches in Ipoh, and a whopping 18 goals in six matches in the World Legue Semi-finals in Johor Baru.

"Yes, five goals in two matches do look a bit too many, but I'm still focused on the task at hand which is to win the Asia Cup gold medal.

"And I will give my best against Japan to achieve that target," said Kumar.
Taiwan scored off their first shot at goal against Kumar, while Pakistan's shots were not that dangerous but the ball still slipped past the defenders and the goalkeeper.

"We did not impress against Japan (1-1) in the World League, and had to win the shoot-out, but I have a feeling that my teammates are ready to beat Japan and play in the semi-finals," said Kumar.
Another player who had a bad run in Johor Baru and is having the same in Ipoh is striker Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, who started his career as a promising player in the 2005 Junior World Cup in Rotterdam.

But he has been overtaken by younger strikers in the last two tournaments.
"I played the feeder's role when playing Taiwan, and against Pakistan, the marking was too tight as at times five players surrounded me when I got the ball.

"And many times when I ran with the ball, there was not enough Malaysian support in the semi-circle to turn the attack into goal. Yes, it has been a disappointing tournament for me, but I hope to deliver against Japan and make it memorable," said Tengku Ahmad.

Pakistan are assured of the top spot in Group A as they play whipping boys Taiwan today, while Malaysia will need to beat or hold Japan to a draw to secure their semi-final slot.

Malaysia’s Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (centre) tries to get past a Pakistan player at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium on Sunday. Pic by Muhaizan Yahya

Read more: HOCKEY: Defensive blues - Other - New Straits Times

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