Thursday February 14, 2013
Clean sweep by Malaysia
By S. RAMAGURU
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia wrapped up their three Test series against Ireland with yet another win at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
This time, however, they had to come back from a goal down to beat the New Delhi-bound Irish team 3-1 in a fast-paced match.
Ireland went ahead after just four minutes through a Shane O’Donaghue penalty corner goal.
But two field goals by Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (18th and 66th), and a Mohd Razie Rahim penalty corner goal in the 42nd minute proved enough for Malaysia to end the Test series unbeaten.
The Malaysians had won the first two Tests matches with ease – 4-2 and 3-0 respectively. But that could have been due to the Irish having to play two matches on consecutive days after just arriving a day earlier.
This time, though, they had ample rest. And it showed in their game, which was much more spirited and mobile.
Malaysian coach Paul Revington was disappointed with his players’ slow start, although he was happy that they showed character to come back and win the match.
“It’s always pleasing when you win a series and improve with each match. There are still some areas we can work on ... the offensive penalty corners is one such area,” he said.
“But to score 10 goals in the three matches, and concede just three, is also a good track record and we’re certainly getting to where we want to be.”
The third Test finally saw Khairulnizam Ibrahim being given the chance to play in goal – replacing Roslan Jamaluddin.
The well-rest Irish team had the Malaysians against the ropes in the early stages.
And it took Ireland just four minutes to draw first blood as O’Donaghue scored with a direct flick off their first penalty corner.
The Malaysian equaliser, which came in the 18th minute, was practically handed to them on a silver platter when Tengku Ahmad intercepted defender Ronan Gormley’s poor square pass to slam it past goalkeeper David Harte.
Malaysia began the second half strongly and took the lead off their second penalty corner in the 42nd minute, thanks to Razie’s drag flick.
Malaysia then sealed victory in the 66th minute with another Tengku Ahmad field goal.