Monday, May 16, 2016
THE Malaysian Under-16 team ended their Whitsun Cup campaign on a laudable note when they came back from 1-4 to hold Germany Under-17 5-5 in Mannheim yesterday.
But the 'Malaysian Syndrome' of letting in last minute goals came back to haunt even this squad which is in its infant stage of preparing for the 2020 Junior World Cup.
After a mammoth come-back, Malaysia took a 5-4 lead, but with one minute remaining on the clock, the Germans scored the equaliser.
On Sunday night, they bungled two penalty strokes when they lost 3-1 to Netherlands in their second match. Malaysia were drubbed 6-1 by Germany Under-16 in the first match.
Malaysia got their goals off Akhimullah Anuar (two goals), Arif Syafie, Zafri Afiq and Amirul Hamizan.
Coach Nor Saiful Zaini said his charges played their best match of the tournament.
"It was great to see the boys come back into the match after going 1-4 down. We were sharper in attack but could have fared better defensively. Our goals were results of well taken chances. I also must give credit to the goalkeeper (Helmi Fazli, from Bukit Jalil Sports School) who made some very good saves", said Saiful.
Malaysia ended the tournament with 1 point, after losing their first 2 matches to Germany U16 (1-6) and Holland (1-3).
"The boys understand the demands of international youth hockey. They responded fairly well to several new ideas and this will augur well for us in the future. Overall, I believe this tour has served us well in understanding the players we have and the areas we need to work on collectively".
And the major concern for Saiful, as seen in the first two matchers, were the goalkeeping and strike-force department.
The other goalkeeper is Hamiz Ahir from Temerloh Sports School.
"The departments that needs urgent improvement are goalkeeping and scoring. Both the goalkeepers were guilty of letting in soft, very soft, goals in the first two matches. We also bungled more than 10 scoring chances in both the matches.
"Also, we failed to score two penalty strokes against Netherlands, which could have turned the tables on the Dutch."
According to Saiful, Malaysia were always on top of the three teams, on possession and penalty corner's won, and the scoreline does not reflect the actual game atmosphere.