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Malaysia have a mountain to climb to reach final

Malaysia have made things difficult for themselves in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup after suffering a 5-1 defeat to India’s second stringers.

With the defeat, Malaysia have to contend with Argentina, England and India for a spot in the final.

World champions Australia have secured a place in the final with four consecutive wins.

Argentina, ranked No. 2 in the world, have seven points from four matches and they want to secure full points against Australia today to reach the final.

Malaysia have six points and wrap up the round-robin fixtures against world No. 7 England.

England, on the other hand, have five points and they too will be going all out against the hosts to secure full points to reach the final.

If the South American champions beat Australia, then Malaysia still need to beat England to play for the bronze-medal match.

If England collect full points against Malaysia and India – who have four points, defeat winless Ireland, then Stephen van Huizen’s boys will play the Irish team for the fifth-placing match.

So the pressure will be on Malaysia to avoid another defeat.

Fitri Saari, playing for the sixth time in the tournament, said it was a do-or-die situation for Malaysia against England.

“If Argentina lose to Australia, then we must beat England to qualify for the final. But it’s easier said than done.

“England too will be going all out against us to secure a place in the final,” said the hard-working midfielder, who has represented Malaysia 141 times.

Fitri added that the defeat to India was a lesson to Malaysia as they paid the price for poor defending and poor marking.

“Our performances are inconsistent – we stunned world No. 2 Argentina (2-1) on Tuesday but got hammered by India’s second stringers India (5-1) on Wednesday,” said Fitri.

“Against England, we need to be on our toes throughout the match and also make our chances count.”

Malaysia last played England in the third placing playoff in the World League Semi-Finals in London last June and were beaten 4-1.
– The Star