KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia struck first but still failed to stop European champions Holland from walking away with a 3-1 win in the Samsung Champions Trophy tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
It was the 18th meeting between the two teams and the Dutch stretched their winning sequence to 15. Malaysia have won twice and drawn the other match.
Yesterday, Malaysia displayed the same kind of grit and fighting spirit that they showed in their opening 0-2 loss to Australia on Thursday.
This augurs well for the future of Malaysian hockey.
Team manager George Koshy was happy with the outcome, considering that the team were out to gain exposure and experience in the tournament.
“So, in that sense we are ahead. Our target is the qualifiers and we need to ensure that the players keep to the objective and improve with each game. The Dutch are way ahead of us but the important thing is that the players will benefit from the outing,” said George.
Malaysia were forced to rest injured defender S. Baljit Singh while Mohamed Razie started in place of Hafifihafiz Hanafi.
Holland dominated from the start in a match played at a fiery pace but it was Malaysia who drew first blood from a quick counter attack in the 19th minute. A lurking Kelvinder Singh deflected a shot into the Dutch half past goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann for the opener.
Malaysia’s joy was short-lived as the Dutch equalised seven minutes later. They lived up to their reputation of having one of the best penalty corner batteries when Taeke Taekema flicked his shot right past the entire Malaysian defence.
Inspired, the Dutch started stringing together several slick moves, forcing Malaysia to defend doggedly. But the Malaysian defence was breached in the 32nd minute when Rob Reckers deflected Jereon Delmee’s free hit past rooted Malaysian goalkeeper S. Kumar into goal.
The Dutch then extended their lead just a minute into the second-half when Ronald Brouwer beat two defenders to slam in a reverse hit to go 3-1 up.
Malaysia never gave up and came close with two field attempts and two penalty corner hits. But that was all they could muster as the Dutch held sway till the final whistle.
Holland coach Roelant Altmans was pleased that the Malaysians had proven to be worthy opponents and felt that they could go far if they kept up their play in the coming matches.
“We deserved to win but, at the same time, I must say that the Malaysians played well and troubled us in the second-half. They had a tough match on the opening day and they showed good form against us. I’m sure they can do better in their other matches,” said Altmans.
Today is a rest day and tomorrow Malaysia will take on England.
In other matches yesterday, Pakistan bounced back from their defeat to Germany on Thursday to beat Spain 2-0.
Goals from Waqas Sharif (54th minute) and Akhbar Ali (61st) were enough to give the Pakistanis their first win in two matches.
Germany, meanwhile, continued from where they left off on Thursday by hammering Britain 4-0.
Sebastian Draghun opened the scoring in the 32nd minute before Mathias Witthaus added the second six minutes later.
Carlos Nevado made it 3-0 in the 58th minute before Witthaus completed the rout with his second of the game in the 70th minute.