Malaysia put on a slightly improved performance but still fell to a 0-4 defeat to the Netherlands in their opening Pool C match at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup in Rourkela, India today.

Coach A. Arulselvaraj’s charges out on a fighting performance, managing to hold the fort as the Dutch began the match charging at the Malaysian goal guarded by Muhammad Hafizuddin Othman from the first minute, but there was the hope of a surprise with the first quarter ending 0-0.

However, the world number 3 ranked Dutch pressed on and opened the scoring in the second quarter with a Thijs van Dam field goal, where he robbed the ball off a Malaysian defender to slot home from close range in the 19th minute.

In the 23rd minute, Jip Janssen doubled the score for the Dutch from a penalty stroke, after he was fouled inside the D. Malaysia’s chance to reduce the deficit came three minutes later when they were awarded their first of two penalty corners, but Muhammad Razie Abd Rahim’s attempt was thwarted by Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak and the teams entered the half-time break with the score 2-0.

The third quarter started with Malaysia looking more adventurous but hardly had a look at the Dutch goal, with Sultan Azlan Shah Cup top scorer Silverius Shello hardly allowed room to operate.

At the same time, Malaysia’s second penalty corner was fumbled without any attempt registered.

The final quarter saw the Dutch double the scoreline through Teun Beins from a penalty corner in the 46th minute, which was also the first goal of his international career.

The fourth goal came via Man of the Match Jorrit Croon, who slotted the ball into the top left corner of Hafizuddin Othman’s goal from an acute angle after connecting with a cross from Steijn van Heijningen.

Malaysian head coach A. Arulselvaraj agreed it was not the start the team had planned for, but there will be improvements when they face Chile in two days.

“We will conduct an analysis with the players and have a video review session to identify mistakes and make the corrections. We knew the Dutch would be very tough opponents and they showed why they are ranked third in the world, but there were many areas where our weaknesses were exposed and this needs to be corrected before we face Chile,” said Arul.

Malaysia will face Chile in their next match at the same venue on Monday, with a win required for them to stay in the running for a quarterfinals spot. In the other Pool C match today, New Zealand beat Chile 3-1.

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