PETALING JAYA: Size does matter in hockey.
National hockey defender Syarman Mat Tee said the physical differences separated Malaysia and world No. 2 Belgium as far as their standard in the game was concerned during their recent friendly games.
Malaysia lost 0-7 to the senior team on Wednesday but defeated the B team 1-0.
They will play two more games against France on Oct 4 and 5 in Waterloo and the 21-year-old Syarman hopes for a better show.
“The physical challenge was telling because they’ve taller and bigger players. Also, when it comes to reaching for the ball with the hockey stick, they seem better. We have to work extra hard,” he said.
“The defeat was painful, but one to forget.”
Syarman said it would not be easy to stop French striker Timothee Clement but relished the chance to rub shoulders with the best.
“Timothee leads the strike force but as a defender, it’s a challenge for me to stop him. We will do our best to beat France in the next two games,” said Syarman.
Malaysia are ranked 10th in the world, just one rung higher than France. With most French players involved in the Belgian League, it will be a quality match-up for the Tigers.
Syarman said they needed regular exposure with the best to close the gap with top hockey nations like Belgium and Germany.
“Regular matches against them will help build our confidence and we’ll have a better understanding of their pattern of play.
“We’ll also be able to improve our rankings if we play many test matches against them.”
The national hockey team are touring Europe to prepare for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in November and the World Cup in India next year.