Monday February 18, 2013
Malaysia face tough task against Russia in opener
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian women’s hockey team will face a difficult task against bigger built Russian team in the opening match in round two of the World League tournament at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium in New Delhi today.
The other teams in the competition are world No. 9th ranked Japan, hosts India (12th), Kazakhstan (33rd) and Fiji (59th).
The World League was introduced last year for teams to earn their places for next year’s World Cup.
The top two finishers in New Delhi will qualify for the semi-finals schedule for either June or July.
Malaysia, ranked 22nd, last played Russia, ranked 20th, in the Champions Challenge II in Kazan, Russia in 2010 and the national team lost 2-1.
Malaysia played a friendly match against Russia last Friday and also lost 1-0.
However, an upbeat National coach Mohd Nasihin Nubli said in a telephone interview said: “Although the Russian players are physically bigger, it does not matter as we are physically fitter. We are confident of upsetting the Russians.
“Nothing is impossible. Although the conditions here are quite chilly, my players are all fired up for the match. We need to play a tight marking game and must not make too many mistakes.”
Malaysia also lost 1-0 in their second friendly against Japan on Saturday.
Nasihin said skipper Nadia Abdul Rahman would play a double role in the tournament.
“She will not only marshal the midfield but will also play as a striker. Our mission is to finish in the top two,” said Nasihin.
Malaysia’s women’s hockey team have never featured in the World Cup.
JAPAN vs FIJI (10am), RUSSIA vs MALAYSIA (12pm), INDIA vs KAZAKHSTAN (6pm).