IPOH: With nothing to lose, Malaysia should throw caution to the wind and take the fight to their opponents in their two remaining Sultan Azlan Shah Cup matches.
Malaysia will face Asian champions and world No. 6 India in their final group match today before playing in the classification match for fifth position against Japan tomorrow.
Malaysia have played four matches thus far – drawing one and losing three.
Malaysian team officials claimed that the players had performed well in the last four matches and were only let down by poor finishing.
Malaysia have a good set of forwards and also three good penalty corner flickers in Mohd Razie Rahim, Faizal Saari and Shaharil Saabah.
Woeful finishing aside, another problem plaguing the national team is the lack of coordination between the midfielders and forwards.
Fitri Saari is a classy player and can be very effective going forward. He needs to step up and lead the line.
Players like Faizal, Mohd Firhan Azhaari, Mohd Haziq Shamsul and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin are just as good, but their lack of understanding has made the team look disjointed.
Malaysia should adopt a more positive attitude – starting today – and take the fight all the way to the Indians.
There is no shame in losing by four goals if the performance level is high. The result will not take them into the third place playoff, but at least it will show everybody that they are truly prepared for the big time.
National head coach Stephen van Huizen expects India to come at full force against his team.
“They are eyeing a place in the final, so we expect them to come charging at us. We must be prepared,” said Stephen.
“Overall, we played some good hockey against New Zealand (despite losing 1-0) on Wednesday ... there were bad patches as well.
“We tried out several penalty corners moves ... some did not come off well. We will look into improving on this.”
India have beaten Malaysia 79 times out of their 112 meetings, with 18 draws.
All the six teams – including Australia, Japan and Britain – are using the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to prepare for the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in June (in London) and July (in Johannesburg).