Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Malaysia lay waste to Irish dreams

Women’s Hockey World Cup Qualifier
Ireland 0 Malaysia 3 (Norbiani Hashim, Rabiatul Mohamad, Norazlin Sumantri)

Gene Muller described Ireland’s performance as “the weakest for over the past two or three years” as they were left deflated by a sub-par performance this afternoon in Santiago to leave their World Cup dreams in tatters.

Malaysia bossed the tie from start to finish with the girl’s in green stuttering through the fixture, struggling to string more than a couple of passes together while huge holes appeared behind the back four with alarming regularity.

The mitigating circumstances have been widely covered in the build-up but, nonetheless, it was a listless performance from which Ireland need to bounce back if they are to avoid losing precious world ranking points.

The warning signs came thick and fast in the early exchanges. Three corners inside eight minutes and one attacking howler from Fazilla Sylvester Silin – a fresh-air from three yards with the goal vacant – showed the measure of the task.

Megan Frazer did win a corner at the far end but Audrey O’Flynn’s slip to Eimear Cregan was intercepted. Nikki Symmons’ fine diagonal overhead from sweeper was just beyond Julia O’Halloran’s control on the right edge of the circle but they were sporadic breaks past a composed Asian outfit.

By contrast, a couple of long crash balls and one uncontrolled overhead were causing all manner of problems at the far end.

From one, Rabiatul Mohamad robbed Bridget Cleland and was only denied by an excellent Mary Goode out-stretched boot.

Audrey O’Flynn had to place a well-timed covering jab to deny a two-on-one with the Irish ‘keeper while Malaysia had two strikers on their own in the 25 from another long ball but an inexplicable foot cut that attack off at its root.

Ireland’s luck, though, failed to hold as Malaysia continued the offensive into the second half.

Another corner was kept out 25 seconds after the break – the yellows failing to shoot on four of their five initial efforts. Switching to straight shots, they drew more joy.

First off, Goode did brilliantly to deny a drag-flick. The save was harshly adjudged dangerous and the deadlock was broken from their seventh set-piece in the 43rd minute.

Goode saved first up but her pads were not fully cleared and Norbiani Hashim gobbled up the rebound with a tidy flick over the helpless netminder.

Within four minutes, it was 2-0. Sylvester Silin found a huge swathe of space down the right flank behind the full-back and measured a perfect cross which Mohamad applied a delightful first-time tough, beating Goode at the near post.

Ireland responded excellently to draw two corners, the first blocked by a runner breaking the line, the second which was neatly switched left and O’Flynn dragged for Shirley McCay’s deflection.

It slipped just wide of the post, though, and Ireland struggled to create anything more in a frustrating closing quarter.

And when Norazlin Sumantri was given the freedom of Santiago to place past Goode for the third goal with six minutes remaining, a miserable afternoon was complete.

Ireland must now win all their remaining games, starting with Scotland tomorrow, and get a couple of results to work in their favour.

*Photos courtesy of HockeyPress Argentina (Jaramillo and Correa Arce) can be seen here - strictly copyright restricted! To download and listen to an audio interview with Gene Muller click here.

Ireland: M Goode, C Sargent, E Cregan, E Clarke, B Cleland, A Speers, M Frazer, N Symmons, A O’Flynn, E Smyth, L Colvin
Subs: M Harvey, R Flinn, S McCay, L Jacob, J O’Halloran

Malaysia: F-A Yahya, N-H Md Ali, S Ruhani, J Mohamad Din, N Hashim, C Lambor, Nuraini Abdul Rashid, Nadia Abdul Rashid, N Hashim, S Othman, F Sylvester Silin

Standings (played, points, goal difference)1. Australia 1-3pts (+5) 2. Malaysia 2-3pts (+2) 3. Chile 2-3pts (-4) 4. Scotland 0-0pts 5. Ireland 1-0pts (-3)

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