Monday, November 9, 2009


If hockey was a game of one half, then Malaysia would have had one foot in the final of the World Cup Qualifiers played in Invercargill.

The Malaysians squandered a 2-0 lead at halftime on Saturday to ed up with a 2-2 draw against Austria. And yesterday in the match against Wales, the script was almost repeated as Malaysia, thanks to two goals from Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, went into the breather 2-0 ahead.

And they were lucky that the Welsh failed to capitalize on their chances to snatch a draw, which would have ended Malaysia’s campaign even before it could have got off the ground.

The only thing interesting that came out of the match was that the umpire, Saleem Aaron from United States had to depend on the third umpire (video replay) twice in the match.

First when he was unsure if the ball had crossed the line in the 4th minute when Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin burst through the middle to deftly lift the ball past Iwan Willians in the Welsh goal. And Malaysia were duly awarded the goal after play was held up for two minutes.

Aaron then relied on the video again in the 51st minute when Wales claimed a goal after the attempt deflected of Mohd Amin Rahim’s goal. This time it was duly pointed out that it was not touched by any Welsh player in the semi circle.

Back to the Malaysian performance, it was yet another case of not being able to handle pressure, especially when they were ahead. And rather then build onto the lead, the Malaysian players were guilty of holding on to the ball for a tad too long, thus losing possession and thereby letting the opponents back into the game.

“The players need to cut down on their mistakes and it is frustrating to see them making the same mistakes,” said coach Tai Beng Hai.

“We fail to make good of the chances that come our way and really that is an area we have concerns. Creating chances is one matter, finishing off the opponents is vital if we want to progress.”

Beng Hai said that while pleased with the win, he felt that the team was not playing to their true potential.

“Dropping the points against Austria was bad and today although we won, we could have played much better,” Beng Hai conceded.

Not withstanding that, there were some good performances by some of the players with Baljit Singh and Tengku Ahmad outstanding. And the second goal by Tengku Ahmad, a reverse stick into the roof of the Welsh goal even got the neutrals applauding.

Malaysia plays New Zealand tomorrow (Tuesday) and Beng Hai knows that it will be an uphill battle.