Sunday, July 28, 2013
Captain of the Belgium series Syamin Yusof exchanging memento before the first match. Pics by Mirnawan Nawawi.
THE Malaysian juniors lost to European junior champions Belgium 3-2 after letting in a last minute penalty corner at the Denetage Hockey Club in Antwerp on Saturday.
The juniors are on a nine-match tour of Europe to prepare for the Junior World Cup in New Delhi in December.
The score was 2-2 with one minute left on the clock, when Malaysia gave away a penalty corner which was duly tucked in to hand Belgium a win in the first of the three-match series.
However, it was a good show from coach K. Dharmaraj’s boys, as they went to Europe without five of their stalwarts (Faiz Helmi, Izad Hakimi, Fitri Saari, Firhan Ashaari and Meor Azuan) who are in training with the senior side for the Asia Cup in Ipoh next month.
As for Belgium, they were without two of their best, as they were in training with the senior side for the European Championships, which also doubles up as a World Cup Qualifier.
The Malaysian goals were scored by Syamim Yusof off a penalty corner rebound in the third minute, and Zulhairi Hashim off a 38th minute penalty corners.
The Belgians scored in the 12th, 34th and 69th minutes.
“We started aggressively knowing that Belgium are the best in Europe at the moment, and forced a penalty corner in the third minute. Zulhairi’s flick was saved but Syamin was cooly tucked in the lead.
“And off our third penalty corner (Malaysia had a total of five while Belgium eight), Zullhairi flicked low to place the ball between the goalkeeper and the post man for the equaliser,” said team manager Mirnawan Nawawi.
“Overall it was an encouraging display, as we could have won the match but failed to convert a 66th minute penalty corner and then let in a last minute goal instead.
“We play another two matches against Belgium before moving to England for another three matches, and they players know that they must win both to steal the series from the European champs,” said Mirnawan.
Before Belgium, the juniors were in Poland where they whipped the Polish juniors 7-0 and 8-2 and lost 3-0 to the senior side.