At the Asia Cup hockey semi-finals yesterday, Malaysia went down 4-2 to Pakistan. The score does not do justice to Malaysia's performance but our players, coaches and team management can put their heads up in pride. The players gave their hearts out but the Pakistanis skills in dribbling and crosses caught some of our players a bit flat footed. This was the edge they had and they capitalised it well.
Our players played well except that they must avoid making mistakes in our 25yd. This is where we paid the price. Our boys held on to the waves of attacks and yet on break away we tend to give the ball away easily, thereby putting our defence on constant pressure. The other is that our players without the ball are not always on the move, creating and opening chances for the player with the ball. This would mean that the opposition can easily anticipate our moves. Further, while our strikers have the speed but they lack the skills in stick work to take on the opposing defence. Again the opposing defence can easily predict what our forwards would do with the ball. In that sense, the lack of high level skills took a toll on our performance.
Notwithstanding all these our boys still played a good game.Despite being a goal down in the 2nd half they were still looking for the equaliser and therefore opened up their own defence, which became vulnerable with pockets of "holes". This gave the Pakistanis the impetus to puncture our defence and sadly they were successful. The "never die" spirit still continued with our boys and we got our 2nd goal at the "death" of full time. Time was not on our side by then.
We must commend the players, the coaches and team management for their performance to date. A 3rd place in the Asia Cup would be a good finish for our boys. This means we must beat China and there is no reason why that is not possible. So long as we play the way we have done, i am sure victory is within our grasp.
Let it be "Malaysia Boleh" and "1Malaysia."