Malaysian player Ramadan Rosli (left) hands out his hand for a handshake after losing 6-2 to South Africa. -S.S KANESAN/The Star
THE HAGUE: Malaysia started off promisingly but ended like chumps as they were blasted 6-2 by South Africa in the World Cup’s 11th placing playoff at the Kyocera Stadium in The Hague, Holland.
Malaysia finished last for their worst ever showing in hockey’s premier tournament.
Yesterday, the Malaysians held the lead at half-time and were in control of the match.
But they succumbed to a South African fightback and gave away six goals in the second half to end up without a single win.
National coach K. Dharmaraj said his players were upset with a penalty stroke given to South Africa early in the second half.
“They lost concentration after that and conceded three quick penalty corner goals. It is a learning experience for the players and they now know what it is like to play at this level.
“You just cannot make mistakes and expect to win. We played well in patches and that’s not enough. The South Africans were also determined not to finish last and they took their chances better than us,” added Dharmaraj.
The match got off to a slow start with Malaysia taking the initiative. They could have taken the lead in the 11th minute when they earned their first penalty corner, but Mohamed Razie Rahim sent his flick wide.
In the 26th minute, Mohamed Firhan Azhaari beat two South African defenders to slot the ball past goalkeeper Eramus Pieterse to give Malaysia the lead.
The Malaysians had another penalty corner in the 31st minute but failed to take advantage. They went off at half-time with a 1-0 lead.
It was all over for Malaysia in a seven-minute spell after the breather.
In the 43rd minute, South Africa earned a penalty stroke and Justin Reid-Ross easily converted for the equaliser.
Reid-Ross was again on target in the 48th minute when he converted South Africa’s first penalty corner past goalkeeper S. Kumar.
Reid-Ross then completed his hat-trick a minute later, again through a penalty corner.
The African champions were not done yet with Lloyd Jones stretching the lead to 4-1 with a field goal in the 50th minute.
After that, Malaysia replaced Kumar with veteran Roslan Jamaluddin, giving him his first taste of action in the tournament.
But there was no joy for Roslan as the South Africans scored two more goals through Austin Smith (64th) and Jean-Pierre de Voux (69th). Mohamed Shahrun Nabil pulled one back for Malaysia in the 69th minute, but it was too little too late.