Malaysia was battered as New Zeland hit the host nation for a sixer in the ninth edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup Under-21 Invitational tournament at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Bahru on Tuesday.
“We lacked fitness and we lack the exposure of playing strong teams at the international stage. This is evident in a tournament like the SOJC. We could not compare the standard and the skills of a team like New Zealand,” said Malaysia coach Nor Saiful Zaini at a post-match conference.
The big defeat came in the wake of an inspiring 1-1 against Australia on Sunday – a match that had given Malaysia hope of a win against the Kiwis who were hammered 8-2 by India on the same day.
On Tuesday, in the last match of the day, the Malaysians were at the receiving end as Man of the Match, Benji Edwards fired a hat-trick with strikes in the 26th, 33rd, and 47th minutes. Every raid by the Kiwis’ into the Malaysian half spelled danger.
The other New Zealand scorers were Moss Jackson (19h), Maks Wyndham-Smith (23rd) and Dylan Thomas.
New Zealand coach Bryce Collins said the heavy defeat to India laid the groundwork for the big win over Malaysia.
“This is our first win in the tournament this year and to beat Malaysia showed we are improving. We needed this win to stay in contention for a podium finish. Two more matches to go to know our fate but we are encouraged with the performance against Malaysia,” said Collins.
New Zealand’s next match is against Japan, 4-3 winners over India, on Wednesday and complete their round-robin matches against Australia on Friday.
For Malaysia, it is a “must-win” match against defending champions Great Britain on Wednesday before facing Japan on Friday.RIZAL ABDULLAH