After losing two matches in a row, the Malaysia men’s hockey team finally recorded a 4-2 win over world’s number nine New Zealand in the final test match at the National Hockey Stadium on Thursday.
Two field goals by Faizal Saari and Nik Aiman Nik Rozemi in the fourth quarter gave Roelant Oltmans' side an important win before leaving for the 2018 World Cup campaign in Bhubaneswar, India, after going down 1-2 and 3-4 to the same side in the previous two matches.
The Speedy Tigers shocked the opponents with a second-minute lead through Razie Abdul Rahim’s penalty corner before New Zealand equalised eight minutes later through a Kane Russell penalty corner.
In the second quarter, a field goal by striker Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil put Malaysia back in front and a high defensive discipline was shown to maintain a 2-1 lead up to the third quarter.
The Black Stick fought back in the fourth quarter of the game and scored their second through a George Muir field goal in the 46th minute, but three minutes later Faizal Saari struck Malaysia’s third before Nik Aiman field goal sealed a 4-2 victory for the home side in the 56th minute.
Speaking to reporter after the match, Oltmans hailed his team’s performance and effort as they managed to minimise the mistakes made in the last two matches.
"We capped the defend structure very well... we didn’t allow them to create much chances and at the same time we had some very good breaks. I think we could have created more opportunities to score.
"Overall, this game was much better than the first two matches. I am pleased with the progress we made in the series ahead of the World Cup and it was a quite a good game against a team like New Zealand," he said.
Malaysia are set to face an uphill task at the World Cup, scheduled from November 28 to December 16, after being drawn in Pool D with former champions Pakistan, the Netherlands and Germany.
At the previous World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands in 2014, Malaysia finished last in the 12-team tournament.