Sport

Published: Saturday December 7, 2013 MYT 6:25:00 PM
Updated: Saturday December 7, 2013 MYT 6:30:13 PM

Malaysia face tough challenge against South Africa

The South African team during a practice session ahead of their Junior World Cup Group D clash against Malaysia.

The South African team during a practice session ahead of their Junior World Cup Group D clash against Malaysia.

NEW DELHI: Malaysia have better be prepared for a tough evening when they take on South Africa in their second Group D match at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Sunday.

South Africa, on a high after their opening 2-1 win over England on Friday, will be motivated to go as far as they can in this tournament as a tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, their former president.

But then again, Malaysia too are on a high – having edged favourites New Zealand 3-2 in their opening tie.

As far as National Juniors coach K. Dharmaraj is concerned, it doesn’t matter who is on the opposite side. All he wants is a win.

“A win will set us on the road to the quarter-finals. We do not want to leave it until the last match against England,” he said.

But that will be easier said than done against a team who will be playing for a true statesman. One who embraced sports wholeheartedly.

Mandela died on Thursday at the age of 95.

South Africa skipper Dylan Swanpoel said they heard of Mandela’s passing just before the game against England and “we were determined not to lose the match”.

“He was an inspiration to all sportsmen in my country ... we have lost a leader and a statesman. The team were in no mood to lose and we want to continue with our winning ways. Malaysia are tough side and can match any of the top teams. But we have the motivation to win,” he said.

South Africa coach Darryn Galagher admitted that it was important to keep the winning momentum going.

“It’s good to get to have scored two goals in the first game ... it has boosted team morale. The players are all geared up for the game against Malaysia.

“The demise of Mr Nelson Mandela, a messiah to us, has saddened us to no end. We dedicate this win (against England) to the great man.”

So, Malaysia had better not take the South Africans for granted.

Tags / Keywords: Junior World Cup, Group D

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