UP AGAINST THEMSELVES
Malaysia must believe to seal World League Semi-finals berth
NO team can beat Malaysia in Dhaka, other than themselves.
This was what Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) technical director Terry Walsh said while watching Bangladesh play Egypt in the World League Round Two quarter-finals on Thursday.
Malaysia, 13th in the world, will play No 20 Egypt in the semifinals today, and at stake is a ticket to the World League Semi-finals — either in London or South Africa.
The second stage offers tickets to the 2018 World Cup in India.
With the stakes so high, Egypt have also set their sights on beating Malaysia to claim one slot, as only the finalists in Dhaka move into the World League Semi-finals.
“There is no team in Dhaka that can beat Malaysia but themselves. By saying this, I mean Malaysia must play much better than what they have been playing in the last four matches,” said Walsh.
He was busy looking for Egypt’s faults, and found plenty in both the goalkeepers.
“Their No 1 goalkeeper (Wael Noureldin) is weak on his left foot, and that’s where the penalty corners should head. Low, and left. And as for their second goalkeeper (Ahmed Adel), if they field him against Malaysia, he is slow to move to the sides on both legs.
“We have not been scoring off high penalty corners so far, while the low ones have worked. This should be our weapon to win comfortably,” said Walsh.
Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen said: “We are going to throw everything we have towards Egypt and treat this as the final itself. No use in holding back, as we came here to qualify for the World League Semi-finals and are just a step away,” said van Huizen.
Nabil Fiqri, who has been in sterling form, believes Malaysia will beat Egypt.
“No doubts in my mind, we will beat Egypt and move into the final. I will give my best, and push the rest as well,” said the recently graduated trainee Inspector who is now attached to Bukit Aman.
However, Egypt have their own dream.
“We could not arrange for training matches before coming here, but trained hard three times a day for three months. We were unlucky not to have topped the group (Group B) and avoid Malaysia in the semi-finals, but now that we are paired with them, we aim to beat them,” said Egypt skipper Amr Elhady.
Hopefully, Malaysia don’t become their own enemy today.
TODAY — S-finals: Malaysia v Egypt (3.45pm), China v Oman (6pm) — Malaysian time.
Malaysia will have to give their all against Egypt today to grab a slot to the World League Semi-finals.