IPOH: Malaysia needed to beat India by at least eight goals to have a chance of joining Australia in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament.
Instead, it was India who went on a goal feast, clobbering the hosts 6-1 in their last preliminary round match at the Azlan Shah Stadium on Friday.
So, while India will take on Australia in the final, Malaysia will face defending champions New Zealand for the third placing on Saturday.
The same old problem – mistakes in defence – led to Malaysia’s capitulation at the hands of India, who got their goals through Chandanda Thimmiah (third minute), Harjit Singh (seventh), Ramandeep Singh (25th, 31st), Danish Mujtaba (27th) and Talwinder Singh (50th).
Mohd Shahril Saabah scored Malaysia’s consolation goal in the 46th minute.
Malaysia coach Stephen van Huizen was clearly disappointed with the way Malaysia started and felt that the two early goals did them in.
“I told the players to play some good hockey for themselves and the fans. India were quicker to the ball and they pressured us well,” he said.
“In international hockey, hard work is important ... but today we were beaten by a team who played brilliant hockey.”
For their classification match against New Zealand, he said the players will have to regroup and refocus if they want to mount a fight against the Black Sticks.
“It will be a tough game because physically, New Zealand will be in better shape after two days’ rest. We have to play intelligently tomorrow.”
Basically, if the Malaysians hope to get the better of the Kiwis, they had better cut down on their mistakes and sharpen their attack. Otherwise, another mauling awaits them.
Meanwhile, India coach Roelant Oltmans was gushing over Ramandeep’s performance and described him as “one of the most intelligent players in the squad”.
“He scored two goals today, but what impressed me was his work rate. His pressing was first class and I thought he played intelligently,” said the Dutchman.
“The whole team did what I wanted today and the scoreline was pleasing.”
India lost their preliminary round match against Australia 5-1, but Oltmans said that if they played like Friday against the Aussies, there is a chance for them to win the tournament.
“Let’s see what we have learnt from our first game against them. The scoreline was harsh as we played a good game.
“I’m hoping for a reasonable outcome tomorrow. Bring the same style of hockey we played against Malaysia and we will surely entertain the crowd.”