Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Staying alive

AZLAN SHAH CUP: Malaysia still in the race for the final

  MALAYSIA survived an early scare but still beat Canada 3-1  to keep their hopes  alive of playing in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup.

Malaysia started on a super note as they attacked relentlessly in the first five minutes and were rewarded when the partnership of Marhan Jalil and Faizal Saari clicked in the fourth minute.

A solo run from Marhan was followed by a deft pass to Faizal who deflected it past goalkeeper David Carter for the lead.

There was another chance to seal the match early when Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil won the first penalty corner in the seventh minute but Faizal flicked it over the bar.

Canada came out of their shell and won their first penalty corner in the 15th minute and Adam Froese perfected it past goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman for the equaliser.

Cheered on by a full gallery at the Azlan Shah Stadium, Malaysia were supposed to play much better but started collecting cards instead to give the Canadians the advantage.

First Izzat Hakimi was shown the green for rough play in the 22nd minute, then Faizal Saari was yellow carded in the 24th minute for hitting Jagdish Gill.

In the 32nd minute, Azri Hassan was yellow carded but Malaysia held on to the 1-1 score going into the dressing room.

The team again walked out of the dressing room looking confident and in the 46th minute, Malaysia won their fourth penalty corner and a dummy from Shahril Saabah saw Faizal netting his brace to give Malaysia the lead again.

Faizal and his teammates had many more chances to increase the lead but Canadian goalkeeper David played a solid second half to deny them.

However, Ahmad Kazamirul made sure the win belonged to Malaysia when he scored a field goal in the 67th minute.

Man-of-the-match was aptly awarded to Faizal.
"The Canadians always play robust and in the first half, my players got carried away and started retaliating and picked up many cards which placed the team under pressure.

"In the dressing room, I told them to keep calm and not retaliate but just play their normal game and it worked," said Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj.
Malaysia next meet China in another must win situation tomorrow.

Meanwhile World No 1 Australia demolished South Africa 7-0 to move closer to playing in the final.
The Australians have nine points after three matches as they had whitewashed China 7-0 and Canada 6-0 in earlier matches.

Malaysia’s Firhan Ashari (right) is challenged by Canada’s Adam Froese during their Azlan Shah Cup match yesterday. Pic by Supian Ahmad

Read more: HOCKEY: Staying alive - Other - New Straits Times

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