Friday, November 13, 2009


The two faces of the Malaysian team were on parade yet again at the World Cup Qualifiers at Invercargill. To sum it all up, Malaysia played speculative hockey and rode their luck to remain in contention for a World Cup berth.

Malaysia led Scotland 3-0 at half time with two goals from 18-year-old Faisal Saari and a penalty stroke converted by Mohd Amin Rahim.

And for the third time within a week, the Malaysian players allowed their opponents back into the match in the second half. Against Austria last Saturday, Malaysia ended up with a 2-2 draw after a taking a 2-0 lead at halftime while the same happened against Wales the next day where a 2-0 lead was almost lost as Wales could only muster a goal in reply.

In the match against Scotland, had the match gone for another five minutes, Malaysia would have conceded the equalizer, but prevailed to win 3-2 and in the process stay in the hunt for a place in Sunday’s final and more importantly a shot for the World Cup berth.

“We got the result we wanted, and to me what is more important is the three points,” said coach Tai Beng Hai.

“Our defence lost possession in crucial moments and that allowed the Scots back into the match. But we have a chance now and I believe if we play as what we did against the Kiwis, we can overcome China for a place in the final.

“My instructions were simple at halftime, that is to hold on to the ball and create openings. But we failed to hold on to the ball and almost paid the price for it.”

Beng Hai made changes to the defence and left out skipper Mohd Madzli Ikmar, opting to play Mohd Razie, Jiwa Mohan, Mohd Amin and Baljit Singh in defence. Faisal Saari was fielded in attack in place of Razie.

However the defence crumbled in the second half as the Malaysians were not patient and rather then let Scotland come at them, opted to attack thus leaving gaps in defence.

The players lost the initiative when Scotland reduced the deficit via Kenneth Bain in the 37th minute and were akin to lost sheep when Stephen Dick made it 2-3 with 21 minutes to play.

Luckily it was Scotland that they were facing for any other team would have found the third goal and sent Malaysia packing. But they lived to fight another day and it will be left to be seen if they have the tenacity to match the spirited but weakened Chinese who really are here with an in-experienced side.