Selangor Journal
Malaysia bounced back 3-2 against Chile to pick up their first full points in Group C of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023, at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar, on January 16, 2023. — Picture by FIH

World Cup: Speedy Tigers can overcome New Zealand — Subahan

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — The national men’s hockey squad have the potential to pull off an upset against more fancied New Zealand in their final match in Group C at the 2023 World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar, tomorrow.

Although aware of the tough task awaiting the Speedy Tigers, Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal is optimistic that A. Arul Selvaraj’s men will fight hard against New Zealand in an effort to continue their winning streak after overcoming Chile 3-2 in the second group match on Monday.

“It’s not easy but anything can happen. I’m quite confident that we will put up a strong fight and try to beat New Zealand,” he told reporters here.

The record of the past 25 meetings between the two teams since the first time they met in 1975 is clearly in favour of New Zealand who recorded 13 wins while Malaysia only won six times and drew six times.

In the meantime, Subahan has also been in contact with Arul Selvaraj and instructed him to find a way to resolve all arising issues including his players’ weakness in scoring from penalty corners that has plagued the national squad ahead of the clash with the ninth ranked team in the world.

Based on statistics released by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), Malaysia only managed to score once from 13 penalty corners through Norsyafiq Sumantri when defeating Chile yesterday.

Malaysia also failed to convert three penalty corners when they lost 0-4 to three-time champions The Netherlands in the opening match of Group C, last Saturday.

Subhan at the same time is confident that if the national team, who are currently ranked 10th in the world, manage to pass the group stage, it will be considered a proud success in India.

Holland remains top of the Group C table with six points after a stylish 4-0 win over New Zealand in their second match on Monday.

New Zealand who have collected three points are now in second place followed by Malaysia in third place, also with three points, while Chile are at the bottom with no points.

According to the tournament format, the group winners will advance to the quarter-finals, while the second and third-placed teams will play against the teams of Group D (England, India, Spain, Wales) in the knockout round, for a slot in the quarter-finals.

The participation in India is the ninth appearance of the national hockey squad in the World Cup since its introduction in 1971 with the best achievement being fourth place in the 1975 edition when Malaysia were the hosts.

— Bernama

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