SoJC: Aussies too good for Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: The national juniors hockey team created a new unwanted record against Australia in the Sultan of Johor Cup (SoJC) with a massive 8-0 defeat at the Taman Daya Stadium yesterday.

The earlier blot was a 6-0 thrashing by Australia in the 2018 SoJC at the same venue.

FIH records show that the Malaysian juniors had played 13 times against Australia since the 1985 Junior World Cup (JWC), losing nine times, drawing twice and winning twice.

But yesterday was a nightmare when coach Amin Rahim's boys played like champions in the first quarter and then were on the receiving end for 45 minutes.

Amin said: "I only had this team for 14 days and there was not enough time to raise their fitness level as before this all the players were involved in numerous local tournaments.

"Only four boys have caps while the others are making their international debut. I am not making excuses, but it is reality.

"However, I take the challenge to turn them into better players inside 14 months, so that we can give a better challenge in the Junior World Cup (which Malaysia will host)."

Australian coach Jay Stacy only had all his players when they arrived in Malaysia and played their first match together since March in a friendly in which they beat Malaysia 4-1, and then went on to double the score in the SoJC.

Amin and his men will face another giant-killing side in South Africa tomorrow, and it is a do-or-die mission for them.

South Africa beat tournament favourites India 5-4 yesterday, and India had beaten Malaysia 5-2 on the opening day of the SoJC.

South Africa are making their SoJC debut, and the Malaysian juniors had only played against them six times in the Junior World Cup since 2001, with all the matches being close.

In the 2013 New Delhi JWC, it was a 2-1 win for Malaysia while in the 2021 JWC in Bhubaneswar it was another close 4-3 win.

South Africa coach Guy Elliott was being coy when he said they expect a tough time against Malaysia.

"But my team always take the match to their opponents and against Malaysia it will be the same gameplan," said Elliott.

So the fans can brace themselves for another close call, and hopefully the Malaysian team come out smiling this time around to avoid playing for fifth-sixth placing in their own tournament.

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