After a heart-breaking 1-2 loss to Korea yesterday, Malaysia will now shift their focus towards securing a third-place finish at the ongoing 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup held in Ipoh.
A bronze medal placing will equal the Speedy Tigers achievement in 1996, their second-best achievement after its five runners up finishes (1985, 2007, 2009, 2013, and 2014).
Malaysia will only need a draw tomorrow against Canada to secure a 3rd/4th place playoff on Saturday either against the same opponents or Japan if results go their way.
Adding spice to the affair is the teams are due to meet up again at the end of next month in the FIH Series Finals to be held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
This represents Malaysia’s last chance to book a ticket at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after narrowly missing out at last year’s Asian Games in the final match against Japan.
In view of their upcoming encounter, coach, Roelant Oltmans is keeping his cards close to his chest and will not reveal their penalty corner variations so as to maintain the element of surprise in Bukit Jalil.
“Tomorrow (today), is a rest day, after recovery, then I will start thinking about Canada. As we will be meeting them again, we will be keeping the penalty corner variations under wraps for the World Series,” said Oltmans during the post-match press conference.
Even though Malaysia didn’t not manage to reach the final, missing out to Korea and India, Oltmans is satisfied with the overall performance of the team.
“Of course we want to play in the final, we played like this, and we deserve to be final. But sometimes we don’t get what we deserve.
“More importantly, we continue to show improvement in the performance. We played a fantastic game, we created far more chances (against Korea).
“If we play hockey like this, take our chances, we will qualify for the Olympics,” added the 64 year old Dutchman.
29th March (Tomorrow)
India vs Poland, 4.05 pm
Korea vs Japan, 6.05 pm
Malaysia vs Canada 8.35 pm