Malaysia’s fortunes at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup went from bad to worse yesterday after they succumbed to their third defeat of the tournament, losing 0-1 to New Zealand in what was a rather frustrating affair.
Despite introducing Hafizuddin Othman in place of S. Kumar in between their sticks, Malaysia were unable to turn on the style as New Zealand sealed a narrow win, courtesy of Kane Russell’s 25th minute goal.
According to Van Huizen, his men deserved all three points against the Kiwis. “When you look at the result, the graph might show a downward trend. But for me, the last two matches have been good and showed that my men played their best,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.
“We failed to take our chances … that was the difference. Credit to the Kiwis for their defensive play. We have two more matches to go, we will try to get it right,” he added.
Where are the goals?
But the bigger concern comes in the form of Malaysia’s inability to find the back of the net. Across all four matches that the Speedy Tigers have been involved in thus far, they’ve only scored a total of two goals. Comparatively, they’ve conceded 9 goals in four matches, including the six they let in against Australia, earlier this week. Against New Zealand, Stephen van Huizen’s men were guilty of not converting any of their seven penalty corners during the match.
The concern elevates to a higher level when you juxtapose their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup form to the fact that they were impressive in two test matches against the Kiwis, before the tournament. Van Huizen’s charges won the first one 8-2, before drawing the second one 3-3.
The 0-1 defeat against New Zealand effectively ended Malaysia’s hopes of sneaking into the 3rd-4th classification match, despite having one more match to play against India on Friday. Regardless of the outcome of that clash, Malaysia will now compete against Japan in the 5th-6th classification match on Saturday.