JOHOR BAHRU, Oct 13 —The national junior hockey squad claimed the fifth position in the Sultan of Johor Cup (SOJC) International Under-21 Hockey Tournament after trouncing New Zealand 6-3 in the fifth/sixth placing match at Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here this evening.
Despite failing to meet its mission of a top four placing, the national team displayed its best performance to date and the squad clearly did not disappoint fans who turned up to cheer for Malaysia.
The team under coach Nor Saiful Zaini Nasiruddin netted its first goal through a field goal by Muhammad Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal in the first minute.
Eleven minutes later, Muhammad Azrai Aizad scored another field goal to put Malaysia two up.
The third goal came from Muhammad Fahmi Khalid who converted a penalty corner in the 23rd minute from Muhammad Haikal Hasrin pass while the fourth was a field goal by Muhammad Hafizuddin Zaidi, one minute before first half whistle.
Stunned with the incessant attacks of the hosts, the Kiwis fought back in the second half via a field goal by Wyndham Smith Maks in the 30th minute followed by another field goal by Jeram Kaylan three minutes later.
The hosts replied with field goal in the 36th minute by Muhammad Azrai Aizad.
New Zealand in the attempt to close the gap found the net via Nield Tim with a field goal in the 46th minute.
Sensing the fight back by the Kiwis, Muhammad Azrai Aizad put in his fourth goal of the game, one minute before the final whistle.
At a media conference, Nor Saiful Zaini said he was happy with the achievement of his boys even though they could only secure the fifth placing.
According to him, the squad found its rhythm later in the tournament especially the win against Japan yesterday.
“The players have to learn to find their footing faster and this tournament was an important lesson for the junior squad,” he said. — Bernama