PETALING JAYA: Relentless pressure from the start and never taking their feet off the pedal right until the end.
This was how Malaysian hockey team skipper Marhan Jalil described the way the Kookaburras subdued their opponents but said the heavy defeats in the four-match friendly series in Perth last week were lessons well learnt for the Malaysian Tigers.
Malaysia lost the four matches 3-0, 7-0, 5-0 and 3-0 where Marhan had captained the side for the first time against Australia, the No. 1 team in the world, and admitted that they had been in a pressure-cooker situation all the way.
“Australia play at a different level altogether,” said Marhan.
“They never let you settle down, pile on the pressure from the start to finish. It was tremendous pressure from the start and we had to have a tough mindset to have any chance against them.
“They closed down on a player with possession of the ball so quickly and hardly gave anyone room to dribble or make a pass.
“The scorelines may suggest that it had been heavy beatings but the friendly series were a blessing in disguise for us. This is the only way we can go forward – playing the best.’’
Marhan believes the series have toughened them ahead of the Asian Cup in Jakarta from May 23-June 1 where they have been drawn in Group B with South Korea, Oman and Bangladesh.
“I am 100% sure that we can do well in the group stage and reach the super four. Let’s go with the winning mentality,” said the midfield general.
The Asian Cup will be crucial to Malaysia’s ambitions of qualifying for the World Cup in Bhubaneswar from Jan 13-29 where three teams from the tournament will be the continental representatives together with hosts India.
“As the captain, I will have to keep motivating my teammates to take this series as the best learning experience they can get and start eliminating their weaknesses,” he said.
“We should not be afraid of the top teams and must be prepared to face them regularly.
“We must also stop committing mistakes (under pressure) as this was exploited by Australia.”
The national players will return to physical training today after a short Hari Raya Aidilfitri break.