Speedy Tigers not up to speed in Nations Cup

KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIA may be ranked world 12th, but the Speedy Tigers finished a poor seventh among nine teams in the Nations Cup which ended in Gniezno, Poland, on Sunday.

Overall, coach Sarjit Singh's team were disappointing due to inconsistence performance, poor penalty corner conversion and weak defending (conceding too many late goals).

They also picked up an unwanted record of eight yellow and 10 green cards in five matches - which is more than the other eight teams. Malaysia scored a total of 17 goals and conceded the same number.

Malaysia also failed to achieve their semi-final target having entered the tournament as among the top four ranked teams after world No. 9 France, No. 10 New Zealand and No. 12 South Korea.

The Speedy Tigers were clearly not up to speed in Poland as their fitness was lacking.

However, old warhorse Faizal Saari has not slowed down, scoring a hat-trick against Austria in Malaysia's 5-4 win in the seventh placing playoff. He emerged as the tournament's joint top scorer with France's Victor Charlet with seven goals.

Sarjit admitted that there are weaknesses in the team, especially in the defence which crumbled under pressure.

"The other area that we failed to capitalise on is penalty corners. We need to work on our penalty corner set-pieces which are very crucial in winning matches.

"We also did not defend the penalty corners well as we conceded many goals," said Sarjit, who guided Malaysia to fourth place in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh last month.

Malaysia's biggest letdown was in the opening match against world No. 16 Pakistan. Sarjit's men were leading 3-0 and 4-1 before conceding three late goals to draw 4-4.

Malaysia conceded more penalty corners than they earned in the five matches. And the conversion rate was only 17.39 per cent out of a total of 23 penalty corners in five matches (converted only four).

Malaysia also conceded 37 penalty corners and let in nine goals.

Indeed Sarjit has a lot of areas to improve on before Malaysia heads to Inner Mongolia for the Asian Champions Trophy from Sept 8-17.

World No. 10 New Zealand won the Nations Cup after edging France 4-3 in the final in a penalty shootout. Both teams were deadlocked at 1-1 in regulation time.


Final: New Zealand 1 France 1 (New Zealand win penalty shootout 4-3)

Third placing: South Africa 4 Pakistan 3

Fifth placing: Canada 2 South Korea 1

Seventh placing: Malaysia 5 Austria 4

Ninth: Poland

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