MALAYSIA beat England 3-1 for their third consecutive win in the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru yesterday.
But it was not a comprehensive win, as coach K. Dharmaraj's boys dominated every department but lacked the final killer touch when presented with sitters.
Goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman was the player of the match as he produced some superb saves to hand Malaysia the win.
The team received a standing ovation from the full stadium, as they cool down but Dharmaraj is still expecting more from his charges.
"It is good that we won our third consecutive match, but I am still not happy with the overall performance as the players missed too many penalty corners and also sitters.
"This is the team which is going to play in the (New Delhi) World Cup and they can't continue playing like they did today," said Dharmaraj.
The coach also said their real test starts today against Pakistan and India on Saturday.
"We have nine points, but the real test for the players is against India and Pakistan who both have matured players. Even before the tournament started, we knew that we needed to beat these two teams to gauge our preparations for the World Cup," said Dharmaraj.
It was a first half full of zest and determination, but Malaysia only had one goal to show after 35 minutes as the forwards kept bungling their chances.
Malaysia had three penalty corners, against England's one, and scored off their third attempt in the ninth minute.
Shahril Saabah's whole-body drive went crashing into the back of the net, and the crowd expected more goals to follow, but the game turned robust instead, with Kavin Kartik receiving a blow to his jaw which drew blood.
After the breather, England were as robust as ever, and the smaller built Malaysians were tumbling all over the pitch when push came to shove.
In the 41st minute, Malaysia's Firhan Ashaari and England's Rhys Goodfield were flashed the yellow card as the game turned physical.
Malaysia started to look more dangerous as the game progressed, and off the fifth penalty corner in the 43rd minute, Kavin's push was deflected in by Izad Hakimi for a 2-0 cushion.
There was never any doubt after that goal, that Malaysia would not nail full points, but Shahril Saabah made sure with another sizzling penalty corner drive in the 56th minute.
England scored their consolation in the 60th minute when their skipper Peter Bull perfected a penalty corner.
New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/sports/other/hockey-hard-man-to-please