Malaysia’s young guns rose to the occasion, providing fresh hopes for Olympic qualification as they starred in the 4-2 win against Canada in the 3rd/4th placing at the 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Ipoh, this evening.
The Tigers, playing in their all white change strip, began the opening quarter brightly, pushing the Canadians back into their own half but against the run of play, went in front through Mark Pearson.
Canada’s captain, Pearson, unguarded in the circle, swung a beautiful shot past goalkeeper, Muhammad Hairi Rahman in the 14th minute to the dismay of the Ipoh crowd.
The Speedy Tigers equalized nine minutes into the second quarter when Nik Muhammad Aiman Nik Rozemi pounced on a rebound after goalkeeper, David Carter’s save through Malaysia’s second penalty corner. It was the youngster’s second goal of the tournament, following his strike against Japan in the second game.
Then it was the turn of Muhammad Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal to get on the scoresheet, his first in this tournament, lashing home a rebound from Carter’s save in the 29th minute from a swift counter attack.
Seasoned campaigner, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil completed the scoring in the second quarter, diving home to connect to a cross from the left at the final action of the half.
The hosts were not done yet, Faizal Saari lashed home the fourth, his sixth overall in the campaign through a penalty corner at the last action of the third quarter.
Malaysia who were doing most of the running, were caught out by a counter attack which saw James Wallace’s shot crept over the line in the 59th minute to complete the scoring.
With this win, Malaysia equalled their achievement in 1996, following Malaysia’s five runners up finishes (1985, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2014).
This match also provides a good indicator of the progress of the Speedy Tigers who are due to meet Canada again at the end of next month in the FIH Men’s Series Finals Kuala Lumpur 2019 to be held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
“It’s always good for the young players to play in a tournament like this. In April, we will assess their performance and then we will assess them for the upcoming World Series,” said coach, Roelant Oltmans during the post-match press conference.
“We will be resuming our training next week when we are back with Taeke Takeema to improve our penalty conversions. We are improving our penalty conversion rate each game and hopefully we can build on this for the World Series,” he added.
30th March (Saturday)
5th/6th placing – Japan 6 Poland 1
3rd/4th placing – Malaysia 4 Canada 2
Final – India 1 Korea 1 (Shoot-Out: India 2 Korea 4)