NO CHEER FOR MALAYSIA

Good per­for­mance not enough for a first win in Azlan Shah Cup

New Straits Times - - Sport - JUGJET SINGH jug jet@nst.com.my

MALAYSIA did every­thing right, ex­cept score as they went down 1-0 to New Zealand in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yes­ter­day.

The de­feat will see them play for the fifth­sixth plac­ing.

Malaysia wasted four penalty cor­ners by half­time, while the Ki­wis only needed one to take the lead.

Kane Russel made it count in the 25th minute and Malysia were in trou­ble again.

Malaysia played two Test matches against New Zealand a week be­fore the tour­na­ment and won 8-3 and drew 33.

But when it mat­tered most, they lost 1-0.

Aus­tralia vir­tu­ally booked a spot in the fi­nal when they beat Bri­tain 2-1. They only have Ja­pan to play to­mor­row, and are the rag­ing favourites for three points.

In the first match of the day, Man­deep Singh saved In­dia the blushes with a hat-trick as the World No 6 came back twice to beat a dis­ci­plined Ja­pan 4-3 in a nail-bit­ing match.

In­dia coach Roe­lant Olt­mans said: “We started off re­ally good and kept on at­tack­ing, put­ting too much pres­sure and Ja­pan were also quick in the counter at­tacks. It was a re­ally fast pace game and the two were com­ing from both ends.

“In the sec­ond half we changed the tac­tics and had more con­trol of the game but un­for­tu­nately we could not score. The fourth quar­ter was great and that gave us more op­tions in our break­aways. Man­deep and Sar­dar played ex­cep­tion­ally well.

“Man­deep is young and very fit. He can score goals from an­gles you would least ex­pect. Some­times it is hard to un­der­stand him.”

Ja­pan coach Takahiko Yam­a­bori was vis­i­bly up­set be­cause his charges were lead­ing 3-2 be­fore col­laps­ing.

“I am most up­set with this de­feat. We had a good chance to beat In­dia after tak­ing the lead twice. But on the other hand, I am happy with the at­ti­tude of my play­ers for giving their best against In­dia.

“We will con­tinue to build this team for the World League Semi-fi­nals and I believe we are head­ing in the right di­rec­tion. The scores are im­por­tant but how the team play is far more im­por­tant.”

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