Faizal Saari (left) in a file photo. He scored two of Malaysia's goals in their 4-4 draw with RC Rotterdam. – Bernama Photo
THE HAGUE: Malaysia may have drawn their second practice match – 4-4 against club side RC Rotterdam – but coach K. Dharmaraj was still pleased as punch.
He was glad to see his players, who will be taking part in the World Cup here beginning on Saturday, slowly getting back their structure after the 8-2 thumping by hosts Holland on Sunday.
“The scoreline (against RC Rotterdam) doesn’t matter as I was looking for an improved performance ... I wanted to see them keep their shape and playing structure,” he said.
“There was better effort from the players as they are slowly coming to grips with the conditions here. It has been chilly and it rained all day yesterday. But our match was played in Rotterdam and we had to travel one hour by bus.”
In the match, the strikers were on target – Faizal Saari netted two while Fitri Saari and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin scored one apiece.
“I gave every player a chance to play and to get used to the conditions here. The players are trying hard and that is what counts,” said Dharmaraj.
“We have two training sessions at the GreenFields Stadium next and our match today with the RC Rotterdam club will be played at the venue. I will try out various combinations again. This time, I want to see the penalty corner efforts bearing fruits.”
The GreenFields Stadium is the second venue for the World Cup. The Malaysians will play three matches there against India, Belgium and Spain. The other two – against Australia and England – are at the main Kyocera Stadium.
Dharmaraj also said that the players took it easy in the friendly against RC Rotterdam as “they were worried about getting injured”.
“We have heard of a spate of injuries to other teams and the players are determined not to fall victim. We understand that Belgium and India have made two changes each after their players got injured in training matches,” he said.
“I want the players to get used to each other and work as a team. We must be disciplined for the whole duration of the game and stick with the game plan. That is what we’ve been emphasising during training.”
Malaysia will start their World Cup campaign against world champions Australia on Saturday.