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Monday August 26, 2013 MYT 4:37:00 PM
Monday August 26, 2013 MYT 4:40:16 PM
by aftar singh
IPOH: S. Kumar was named the best goalkeeper in the last Asia Cup in Kuantan in 2009. He was also the first Malaysian player to be voted the best player in Asia in 2010.
But sadly, his performance has been on the slide in this year’s tournaments.
The 33-year-old Tampin-born player conceded 18 goals in six matches in the World League semi-finals in Johor Baru last month.
And in the on-going Asia Cup in Ipoh, Kumar has already let in five goals in two matches.
Although Malaysia whipped Taiwan 10-2 in the opening Group A match on Saturday, Kumar conceded a goal from the very first attempt made by Taiwan forward Liu Ching-kun in the fourth minute.
He was replaced by reserve goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin in the second-half of the match.
In the second match on Sunday, Pakistan punished Malaysia 4-1 for their porous defending and for conceding two own goals.
Midfielder Mohd Fitri Saari scored an own goal in the 60th minute. And seven minutes later, Kumar also conceded an own goal after Pakistan’s Muhammad Umar Bhutia hit from outside the D touched his pads before the ball sounded the board.
Kumar, who has 217 international caps to his credit, admitted he needs to buck up fast as he has not been playing well lately.
“It’s a wake-up call for me that I have to stay alert throughout the match,” said Kumar.
“Goalkeepers are under more pressure in matches now with the own-goal introduction last year.
“I admit that it was basically my fault for conceding an own goal against Pakistan. I didn’t realise the ball touched my pads before it sounded the board,” said Kumar.
Malaysia will wrap up their Group A fixtures against Japan Tuesday. Both teams have three points each from two matches.
Malaysia, who have a better goal difference, just need a draw against Japan to qualify for the semi-finals.
Pakistan have already secured a place in the semi-finals with two wins after beating Malaysia (4-1) and Japan (7-0).
Kumar, however, said that although they just need a point against Japan, they would go all out to collect full points.
“We cannot take Japan lightly as they gave us a torrid time in the playoff for the fifth placing in the World League semi-finals,” said Kumar.
In the match, Malaysia won 4-3 in a penalty shootout after both the teams failed to break a 1-1 deadlock in regulation time.
Kumar said that it would be a big blow for Malaysia, who are ranked 13th in the world, if they lose to Japan, who are ranked 16th in the world.
“Our target is to win the Asia Cup for the first time,” said Kumar.
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hockey, Malaysia, Asia Cup, S. Kumar
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