The Malaysian hockey players celebrate after scoring a goal against Canada in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games on Saturday. - AFP
GLASGOW: A goal in each half was enough to give the cagey Malaysian men’s hockey team a 2-0 win over Canada.
Malaysia, who came under fire after finishing last in the 12-nation World Cup in The Hague, Holland, last month, got their goals through Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin (14th minute) and Izwan Firdaus Ahmad Tajuddin (69th) in their Group B match at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre on Saturday.
National coach K. Dharmaraj was pleased with the opening win, especially after watching his team lose all their six matches in the World Cup.
“It was a good start for us … the win will boost the players’ morale and confidence in the coming matches,” he said.
“We had a good start by taking an early lead but our forwards failed to score despite creating a number of chances.
“I’m happy that Izwan did well to score in the dying minutes of the match.”
The result would have been different had Malaysia, who looked shaky at the start, conceded a goal in the ninth minute because of poor defending.
Luckily for Malaysia, the unmarked Gabriel Garcia failed to connect a pass by Matthew Guest.
And Malaysia, who beat Canada 3-1 in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in March, made them pay for it five minutes later off their first penalty corner.
Defender Ahmad Kazamirul, who was dropped from the World Cup squad, got his name on the scoresheet with a low drag flick past Canadian goalkeeper David Carter.
Despite taking the early lead, the national forwards, led by S. Selvaraju, failed to make an impact.
Canada, who lost their opening match to New Zealand 3-1 on Friday, earned a penalty corner in the 29th minute but Malaysian goalkeeper Mohd Hafizuddin Othman did well to save the drag flick taken by skipper Scott Tupper.
Malaysia earned their second penalty corner three minutes into the second-half but skipper Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim failed to get it right.
Canada earned three penalty corners in the last 15 minutes of the match but goalkeeper Hafizuddin superbly thwarted them.
Izwan Firdaus went on a solo run in the 61st minute, beating two defenders, but his reverse stick attempt from the top D went just inches wide.
But it didn’t matter because, eight minutes later, Izwan doubled the lead when he collected a pass from Mohd Shahril Saabah and slammed it past Carter.
Malaysia play England on Sunday.