Monday, September 02, 2013

Not good enough

MALAYSIA'S quest for an Asia Cup bronze medal fell flat as Pakistan played with more zest to take the honours with a 3-1 win at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh yesterday.

The hosts, who have already qualified for the World Cup, were outplayed in all departments by Pakistan who will miss their first World Cup since its inception in 1971.

"I am disappointed with the way we finished in this tournament as there was something lacking in attack. Also, our penalty corner conversion rate was at its worst.
"Something needs to be done in these two areas (finishing and penalty corners) if we want to achieve results in future," said Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.

Coach Paul Revington echoed Tengku Abdullah's sentiments: "Yes, the penalty corner conversion rate was not as expected but Razie's (Rahim) and Faizal's (Saari) shoulders are sore from flicking in this tournament.

"Once they recover, we will work on them further to improve their flicks," said Revington.
The first overhead flick won Malaysia a penalty corner in the first minute but Razie's attempt was deflected by goalkeeper Salman Akbar and the ball hit the top bar and sailed out.

In the second minute, the sky opened up and the heavy rain made play much more difficult.
Malaysia had lost 4-1 to Pakistan in the group stage but looked much more dangerous in yesterday's battle for bronze, but the downpour made it difficult for both sides to score.

For the record, Malaysia lost the Asia Cup bronze medal to China in the last edition in Kuantan, 7-6 on penalty strokes after being held 3-3 in regulation time.

The heavy rain never let up in the first half, making hitting and pushing almost impossible as Malaysia kept defending penalty corners, and were reduced to counter-attacks in the final five minutes.

Faizal finally gave Malaysia the lead in the 34th minute with a diving attempt, but right after the restart, Pakistan's Haseem Khan equalised with a field goal seven seconds to half-time.
After the breather, the rain finally stopped and Pakistan moved up a gear and their hard work was rewarded with a goal in the 54th minute off their fifth penalty corner when Muhammed Imran sent in a powerful drive.

There was more misery for the hosts immediately after the restart, a Malaysian goal was disallowed and in the 56th minute, Razie scored an own goal to make it 3-1 for Pakistan.

And in the following minutes, Pakistan goalkeeper Salman Akbar made five incredible saves to deny Malaysia.

Meanwhile, South Korea won their fourth Asia Cup title when they beat India 4-3 and also gave the World Cup berth to Malaysia.
Now, India will have to wait for the Oceania Cup battle between Australia and New Zealand to claim their ticket, which is virtually theirs, as both the Aussies and Kiwis have also qualified and it does not matter which team wins.

Pakistan’s Fareed Ahmed (left) and Malaysia’s Fitri Saari battle for the ball at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh yesterday. Pakistan won 3-1. AP pic

Read more: HOCKEY: Not good enough - Other - New Straits Times

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