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Boss expects a Malaysian victory

Written by: Staff
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Melbourne, Mar 16 (UNI) Mirnwan 'Boss' Nawawi, the man who broke Indian hearts in the 1998 Commonwealth Games hockey competition, is confident that Malaysia will repeat history tomorrow.

Eight years ago, in an epic semi-final at the Bukit Jalil Stadium, Mirnawan finished off an exquisite penalty corner set-piece five minutes into sudden-death extra-time to give Malaysia a 1-0 victory and a place in the final.

Malaysia eventually lost 4-0 to Australia in the final.

Mirnawan, who has since retired, is in Melbourne as part of the Malaysian delegation.

''Looking at this Malaysian team, I can safely say there is nothing much to separate them from the Indians,'' said the former forward, who played in three Olympics in 1992, 1996 and 2000.

''I had lunch with the team yesterday and they are all feeling confident. Eight years ago, India were very much the better team.

They dominated the semi-final and could have scored five or more goals but our goalkeeper (Roslan Jamaluddin) stopped everything which came his way.'' ''This time, I feel we have closed the gap and I will not be surprised if we start our campaign on a winning note,'' he said.

Malaysia have never lost to India in the Commonwealth Games hockey, the 1998 match, being their only meeting.

The other teams in Pool B with the duo are Trinidad and Tobago, Pakistan and South Africa.

Group A consists of Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada and Scotland.

India are missing key defenders Harpal Singh and Dilip Tirkey which leaves Sandeep Singh and Kanwalpreet Singh as their only recognised fullbacks.

Only the top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals and only Trinidad are seen as the weak links in Group B.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian women began their campaign with a 4-0 thrashing of Nigeria.

Norfaraha Hashim (31st), Intan Ahmad (45th, 60th) and Nadia Abdul Rahman (58th) scored the goals.

The win was a welcome boost to the team, who suffered the humiliation of finishing last at the 2002 Manchester Games. Then, they also created an unwanted record with an 0-18 loss to Australia.

UNI HSB AY PDS PM1930

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