KUALA LUMPUR – After showcasing magical performances in their early appearance, Malaysia finally were defeated by Belgium 2-0 in their third match in Group B of World Hockey League semi-final round in Antwerp, Belgium yesterday.
With the defeat, Malaysia were relegated to second place with six points while Belgium moved to top of the group with seven points.
At the KHC Dragons Stadium, The Speedy Tigers gave the world number four ranked team a real run for their money in the opening two quarters.
Malaysian goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin produced tremendous saves in the second quarter, showing cat-like reflexes to deny Tanguy Cosyns and Florent van Aubel to keep the team going before the half-time.
The hosts bounced back in the third quarter with two goals in quick succession with Dorain Thiery and Simon Gougnard both finishing off excellent team moves to give Belgium a 2-0 lead in the third quarter.
Belgium’s initial effort was foiled by Roslan, but the ball fell to the lurking Thiery, who slotted it home in the 38th minute before Gougnard deflected from close range a minute later.
Malaysia had a golden chance in the 50th minute via a penalty corner but captain Muhammad Razie Abdul Rahim failed to complete the set piece move.
Malaysia, Great Britain and Belgium are now certain qualifiers from group B for the cross-over quarter finals, although the exact finishing positions are yet to be decided.
Malaysia are scheduled to face Great Britain on Sunday to complete the group matches.
Malaysia need to finish in the top three of the overall competition to qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.