KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — After losing two matches in a row, the national men’s hockey team finally recorded a 4-2 win over the world’s number nine, New Zealand in the final test match at the National Hockey Stadium here today.
Two field goals by Faizal Saari and Nik Aiman Nik Rozemi in the fourth quarter gave Roelant Oltmans’ side an important win before leaving for the 2018 World Cup campaign in Bhubaneswar, India, after going down 1-2 and 3-4 to the same side in the previous two matches.
The ‘Speedy Tigers’ shocked the opponent through a second-minute lead from a Muhammad Razie Abdul Rahim’s penalty corner before New Zealand equalised eight minutes later through a Kane Russell penalty corner.
In the second quarter, a field goal by striker, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil put Malaysia back in front and a high defensive discipline was shown to maintain a 2-1 lead up to the third quarter.
The Black Stick fought back in the fourth quarter of the game and scored their second through a George Muir field goal in the 46th minute but three minutes later Faizal Saari struck Malaysia’s third before Nik Aiman field goal (56th minute) sealed a 4-2 victory for the home side.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Oltmans hailed his team’s performance and effort as they managed to minimise the mistakes made in the last two matches.
“We capped the defend structure very well we didn’t allow them to create much chances and at the same time we had some very good breaks. I think we could have created more opportunities to score.
“Overall, this game was much better than the first two matches. So pleased with the progress we made in the series. Making progress to the World Cup and it was a quite a good game against a team like New Zealand,” he said.
Malaysia were set to face an uphill task at the World Cup, scheduled from Nov 28 to Dec 16, after being drawn in Pool D with former champions Pakistan, the Netherlands and Germany.
At the last World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands in 2014, Malaysia finished last in the 12-team tournament. — Bernama