KUALA LUMPUR: Get it right with the penalty corners.
Not happy with the conversion rate, Malaysia coach Stephen van Huizen put his charges through a full training session just working on penalty corners at the Maulana Bhansani National Hockey Stadium in Dhaka yesterday.
Out of 18 penalty corners won in the two Group A matches at the World Hockey League Round Two, Malaysia only managed to score three.
They had six against hosts Bangladesh but only scored one in the 3-0 win on Saturday.
Things got worse on Sunday. They had 12, but only netted two in the 6-1 win over Oman.
Team manager Mohamed Nasihin Nubli said that the pitch was heavy and not conducive for a smooth execution.
“The drag flicks are also not working. The coach is very concerned, so we conducted a full training session on penalty corners this morning. It was a good session and I hope the players will learn from it,” said Nasihin in a telephone interview from Dhaka.
Fortunately, Malaysia are scoring plenty of field goals – six in two matches.
“If we had taken our penalty corner chances well in both the matches, we could have won by a bigger margin. But our objective here is to improve on our playing structure and to get full points. It’s not about how many goals we score,” said the former international goalkeeper.
Youngster Nik Aiman Nik Rozemi is Malaysia’s leading marksman with three goals. The other scorers are Mohamed Razie Rahim (2), Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (2), Mohamed Marhan Mohamed Jalil (1) and Shahril Saabah (1).
Malaysia, the world No. 13, play winless Fiji today. It’s Malaysia’s first ever meeting against the world No. 44.
Malaysia should have no problems emerging Group A winners to set up a quarter-final clash with world No. 41 Sri Lanka, who are expected to finish bottom of Group B.
“All our players are injury free and we’re happy with their progress. We will give the fringe players more time on the pitch against Fiji.
“Our focus is on the quarter-finals and semi-finals. These are the two most important matches for us. We could be meeting China in the last four. This is going to be a tough match and we are preparing for it,” said Nasihin.