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Thursday August 29, 2013 MYT 4:58:00 PM
Thursday August 29, 2013 MYT 5:00:46 PM
by aftar singh
Rupinder Pal Singh (centre) is one of the potent penalty corner drag flickers that Malaysia will be wary of in the India-Malaysia Asia Cup semi-final match on Aug 30.
IPOH: A lot has been made of Malaysia’s backline being the weak link in the ongoing Asia Cup here.
So, it is only right that questions are being asked if the defence, led by Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, can stop free-scoring India when the two teams meet in the semi-finals Friday at 9.45pm.
Malaysia have conceded eight goals in three matches through silly errors while India have been rock steady at the back, having conceded just one goal so far.
India have been prolific up front as well, having scored 19 goals in three matches.
They also have two deadly penalty corner drag flickers in V.K. Raghunath, who also happens to be a pillar of strength in defence, and Rupinder Pal Singh. They have scored five goals each.
India have yet to qualify for next year’s World Cup and will surely go for the jugular right from the start against Malaysia to qualify for the final.
Only the winner of the Asia Cup will feature in the 2014 World Cup.
The pressure will definitely be on the Malaysian defenders to stop the skilful Indian forwards.
Razie was quick to admit that “the defence is the weakest link in the team”.
“We’re making the same old mistakes ... slow in clearing the ball in the D, failing to stop the opponents outside the semi-circle and not staying cool under pressure,” said Razie, who has 154 international caps.
“We lost to Pakistan (4-1) due to poor defending and lived dangerously against Japan before coming back from two goals down to win 4-2.
“The defenders will face a torrid time against India, who play a fast attacking game. Our challenge will be to stop them from scoring.”
The other defenders in the team are Azlan Misron, who has more than 300 caps, Baljit Singh, Faiz Helmi Jali and Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin.
So, does Razie have any idea how to stop the India hot-shots?
“We’ll have to play a very tight marking game and not make any errors in the D ... and not give away any penaly corners,” said the 26-year-old Razie, who is making his debut in the Asia Cup.
“They have two good penalty corner flickers who have been scoring in every match. We (the defenders) face a mammoth task but I hope we won’t let the team and the fans down.”
Razie will also be counted on to deliver goals from penalty corners, having netted a goal each in the group matches against Pakistan and Japan.
Tags / Keywords:
hockey, Asia Cup, Malaysia, India, Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim, V.K. Raghunath, Rupinder Pal Singh, World Cup, Azlan Misron
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