Kuantan (25 Oct, 2016): Midfielder Fitri Saari believes Wednesday’s classic encounter between Malaysia Tigers and top-ranked India will be entertaining and that the host will need to play eight times far better than the former QNET Asian Champions Trophy winners.
“If we go by current world rankings, India is World No 6 and we are at No 14 which means we are eight rungs below. Malaysia will need to play eight times better to be sure of holding them or even winning,” said Fitri, the younger brother of me mercurial forward Faizal who has scored two goals in the tournament so far.
“The Indians are known to play an attacking game. They have speed and have very good individual skills. To contain India we must increase our level of our performance and not getting emotional on the field,” he added.
The last time Malaysia Tigers faced India was at the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in April this year which the Indians won 6-1 in the round-robin pool match. The host ended finishing fifth on the tournament.
Stephen van Huizen’s Malaysia Tigers have been riding high in this 4th edition of the Asian Champions Trophy by winning all three matches without any glitch. They defeated Pakistan, the 2012 and 2013 champions, 4-2 in the opening match, downed China 5-1 and humbled an inexperienced Japan 7-2 last Sunday.
Drag-flick specialist Mohammad Razie Rahim echoed Fitri’s call to team members to give their all best against India, who stopped arch rivals Pakistan in the track following a 3-2 victory.
“It’s an important game and we will have to overcome our mistakes in earlier matches. We have played India before and they are a far better side now than that played in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup,” said Razie. “I have been working on improving on the flicks in penalty corners this morning and I am happy with what I have achieved.”
Malaysian head coach, Van Huizen, said the host will approach India just as any other opponents in the Champions Trophy.
“We have had two days of good rest. Our objective is to win every game in pool matches which will decide the semi-finals line-up. We are aware that India is ranked very high and they are playing exceptionally well.. How we react against India will be decided on how they react against us.. We have our plans but obviously I am not going to discuss this in public,” said Van Huizen at a pre-match press conference today.
“The way India plays the game even some of the top teams in the Olympics could not contain them at certain stages and we respect India because they are a good team with good blend of individual players.
“They have a lot of structure in their play with Roelant Olthmans as current coach and Terry (Walsh) before that. Like what Fitri Saari said there is a lot of work to be done not only to hang on to our game plan but also neutralise what they are going to do,” added Van Huizen.
He, however, believes that with three good games behind them Malaysia Tigers will be up the mark in containing India’s march.
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