WORLD CUP: Beating Spain will be a consolation on a disastrous outingAFTER being left in the cold for 12 years, Malaysia have dished out a pathetic performance in the ongoing World Cup, and their Last Chance Saloon is against Spain today.
Back in 2002 when Kuala Lumpur hosted the World Cup, Malaysia finished eighth among 16 teams, and the best they can achieve at the Hague, Netherlands would be a ninth spot.
That too, provided they beat Spain today, and then win their ninth-10th classification match.
Spain have two points, while Malaysia none after four matches, and a draw would be disastrous as coach K. Dharmaraj's men will have to play in the 11-12th classification.
Malaysia, ranked 13th, justified that spot when they lost 4-0 to Australia, 6-2 to Belgium, 2-0 to England and 3-2 to India.
Out of the four goals scored in four matches, Razie Rahim delivered three off penalty corners while Marhan Jalil scored off a field attempt.
The defenders let in a massive 15 goals, and it could have been doubled if not for the efforts of goalkeeper S. Kumar, who was easily Malaysia's best player in the event.
But with porous defending, and jittery strikers, Kumar's efforts have gone to waste in four matches.
"We tried our best but we lost," said Razie after going down to India.
"We played so well and we really wanted to win (against India). We hope to finally get the three points against Spain," said Razie.
Dharmaraj said expectations were high on the team as they finished second in the Azlan Shah Cup and won bronze in the Champions Challenge 1.
"However, both the tournaments can't be taken as a yardstick as the standard of play in the World Cup is at a much higher level.
"With all the players (except for second goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin) playing in their first major tournament, some of them were overawed by the occasion.
"Here, one can't make any mistakes as goals are the punishment even for a miss-trap in the middle of the field as counters are super fast.
"However, I admit that many promising players have failed to perform at the Hague and that's why we are still winless," said Dharmaraj.
Today: Spain v Malaysia (8.30pm).
Read more: Malaysia hope for face-saving win - Other - New Straits Times