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NST Online: Sports


Japan crush Saudi

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 09:33 AM PST


Japan’s  Shinji Okazaki scored a hat-trick  against Saudi Arabia in their Group B match yesterday. Japan won 5-0. — AP picture

Japan's Shinji Okazaki scored a hat-trick against Saudi Arabia in their Group B match yesterday. Japan won 5-0. — AP picture

DOHA: Japan routed Saudi Arabia 5-0 yesterday to set up an Asian Cup quarter-final clash with hosts Qatar, while Jordan joined them in the last eight by coming from behind to defeat neighbours Syria 2-1.

A hat-trick from striker Shinji Okazaki was the centrepiece of a comfortable Japan victory that consigned traditional powerhouses Saudi Arabia to one of the most abject and humiliating defeats in their history.

Jordan, meanwhile, had to battle back from a goal down and were indebted to some generous Syrian defending as they booked a last-eight date with Group A winners Uzbekistan.


In Jordan's only previous Asian Cup appearance, in 2004, they went out at the quarter-finals, but their Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad hopes they can go a step further this time.

"It was very tough today and Syria had some chances, but we played well, we focused and were tactically disciplined," he said.

"We made some mistakes in the first half, but rectified that in the second period.


"Uzbekistan are very strong. We faced them in a friendly a few weeks ago and their coach told me that he wanted to meet us in the final.

"They are a strong and fast team, but it's our ambition now to reach the semis-finals."

The emphatic margin of Japan's victory saw them through as Group B winners, pipping Jordan to top spot on goal difference.


Three-time champions Japan, who needed an injury-time goal to rescue a 1-1 draw with Jordan in their opening game, raced into a 3-0 lead inside 20 minutes at Doha's Al Rayyan Stadium.

Reported Stuttgart target Okazaki, a replacement for injured playmaker Keisuke Honda, broke the deadlock in the eighth minute before doubling Japan's lead five minutes later with a diving header from Shinji Kagawa's centre.

Ryoichi Maeda made it 3-0 when he flicked home Yuto Nagamoto's cross in the 19th minute and Saudi Arabia, who sacked Portuguese coach Jose Pereiro after their opening 2-1 defeat by Syria, were already dead and buried.

Maeda extended Japan's lead early in the second half before Okazaki lashed home his third in the 80th minute as the hapless Saudis, themselves three-time champions, crashed to a third successive defeat in the competition.

A draw would have been sufficient to take Jordan through at the expense of Middle East neighbours Syria and they saw Hasan Abdel Fattah fire narrowly wide after only 36 seconds at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium.

Syria gradually assumed control of the game, however, and on 15 minutes they took the lead.

Sanharib Malki's low shot was parried by Jordan goalkeeper Amer Shafi into the path of Mohamed Al Zino, who gleefully slammed the ball into an open goal from six yards.

Syria were through as things stood, but with their fans launching a premature Mexican wave, Jordan levelled.

It was a desperately poor goal to concede, defender Ali Dyab rising to meet Amer Deeb's innocuous cross from the Syrian right and succeeding only in heading the ball over goalkeeper Mosab Balhous and into his own net.

Jordan completed the turnaround shortly before the hour mark with another goal that owed much to statuesque reactions in the Syrian defence.

A goal-kick from Jordan goalkeeper Amer Shafi was allowed to reach the edge of the Syria box and striker Odai Al Shaify capitalised on the hesitancy to poke the ball past Balhous and send the Jordan fans into raptures. -- AFP

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Special effort to stop No 1

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 08:39 AM PST

2011/01/18
K.M. Boopathy
boopathy@nstp.com.my


 Malaysia’s Wong Mew Choo  training 
at the Putra Stadium, Bukit Jalil yesterday. — Picture by Fariz Iswadi Ismail.

Malaysia's Wong Mew Choo training at the Putra Stadium, Bukit Jalil yesterday. — Picture by Fariz Iswadi Ismail.

LEE Chong Wei, despite the unsavoury saga of his coach Misbun Sidek's resignation and the presence of arch rival Lin Dan, will be the player to beat when the Malaysia Open begins at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

Chong Wei, in search of his seventh Malaysia Open crown, seemed to have put the Misbun affair on the back burner when he easily secured the season opening World Super Series Masters Finals in Taipei 10 days ago.
Misbun, who resigned on Dec 31, and whose coaching career with the BA of Malaysia (BAM) is still in the balance, has yet to meet with BAM officials but discussions are expected to take place during the tournament.
Records show that it takes a special effort to dethrone Chong Wei in the Malaysia Open and Lin Dan will have to be at his best to do so.

Lin Dan failed to stop Chong Wei winning the title twice — in 2005 and 2006 — and the China ace is still hunting his first Malaysia Open title.
Lin Dan's performance has been mediocre at best in this event for reasons only known to him and his shock defeats to Park Sung Hwan of South Korea in the 2004 and 2007 editions only add to the belief that it will be tough again for him this year. Everything points to a Chong Wei-Lin Dan semi-final and that will be a cracker.
Chong Wei has it easy in the early rounds before a likely quarter-final meeting against Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Minh.

The other Malaysians will face a tough time getting through the first round with Hafiz Hashim up against China's third seed Chen Long, and veteran campaigner Wong Choong Hann facing a tricky opening match against Marc Zwiebler of Switzerland.
The draw looks bottom heavy where second seed Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia will meet Sung Hwan while Bao Chunlai of China will be up against Japan's Kenichi Tago in the first round matches.
Chen Jin of China, Thailand's Boonsak Ponsana, Simon Santoso of Indonesia and South Korean dangerman Shon Wan Hoe are all in the bottom half, thus making life easy for Chong Wei.

Men's doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong will be hard-pressed to defend their title if their recent performance in the World Super Series Masters is any indication but national doubles coach Rexy Mainaky is reasonably confident the pair can turn things around.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong will face a minor test in the first round where they meet China's back-up pair Shen Ye-Hong Wei before a likely meeting against compatriots Gan Teik Chai-Tan Bin Shen.
The Malaysian pair, if they advance, should meet Taiwan's Chen Hung Ling-Lin Yu Lang before playing former world champions Tony Gunawan-Howard Bach in the last four.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong will then find bogey pair Ko Sung Hyun-Yoo Yeon Seong of South Korea awaiting them.
The Koreans have won their last three meetings but Kien Keat-Boon Heong, on this occasion, have home ground advantage, and coupled with their experience, must not disappoint the local fans.

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