(Photo: Duif Du Toit, Gallo Images)
MALAYSIA looked like they were on a safari holiday in South Africa when they went down meekly 3-1 to Canada in the Champions Challenge I at the Randburg Hockey Stadium yesterday.
And their lacklustre attitude could be because the first three group matches in the eight-team tournament does not matter at all, since the International Hockey Federation (FIH) drew a quarter-finals fixture for the Challenge.
All eight teams are already assured of playing in the last eight, and that could back-fire by lowering the standard of play in the group stages.
Team manager George Koshy summed up the game as sloppy, and not up to the normal standard of his players.
“It was a sloppy show from Malaysia, and well below what they are capable off. They gave away the ball too easily, and made many unforced errors,” said Koshy.
And what could be the reason for that: “They failed to settle down quickly, and needed the whole of the first half to gather themselves.
“That gave Canada the confidence they needed to win. However, I believe we will perform much better in our next match against Japan today (tomorrow),” said Koshy.
Malaysian coach Tai Beng Hai opted for a defensive approach in the first half, and Canada made inroads at will but failed to score numerous sitters until they won their firs penalty corner and converted.
Malaysia then drew level off their first penalty corner minutes from the half-time, when Amin Rahim flicked home.
But that was the only brilliant moment for Malaysia, as Canada took control of the second half and scored two more field goals for full points.
Malaysia next play Japan today, and it could turn out to be another safari excursion for Beng Hai’s men.
RESULTS: Group B: Canada 3 Malaysia 1, Argentina 2 Japan 2; Group A: India 3 Belgium 3, South Africa 3 Poland 1.
TODAY: Group A: Belgium v Poland (9pm), South Africa v India (11pm).
Group B: Argentina v Canada (5pm), Malaysia v Japan (7pm).
TUESDAY: Group A: India v Poland (9pm), Belgium v South Africa (11pm).
Group B: Canada v Japan (5pm), Malaysia v Argentina (7pm).
NOTE: Malaysian time.