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Malaysia blow chance for final after Canada draw

Malaysia had a great chance to keep pace with the leaders and stay in the hunt for a final berth in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

Instead, they ended up drawing 2-2 with Canada at the Azlan Shah Stadium on Tuesday.

Again, it was poor defending that let the Malaysians down.

Canada took the lead in the 21st minute through a Scott Tupper direct flick off their third penalty corner attempt.

Malaysia hit back with a penalty corner goal of their own in the 29th minute through Mohd Shahril Saabah before Nabil Fiqri Mohd Nor put the hosts 2-1 ahead a minute into the third quarter.

Then, as always, the defence went to sleep in the 45th minute, allowing Matthew Guest to score the equaliser past goalkeeper Mohd Hafizuddin Othman.

National coach Stephen van Huizen was clearly unhappy with the draw as “we were going for a win”.

“I don’t think the Canadians are happy either. This is a match we had targeted to win … we tried hard in the last quarter,” he said.

“It was a good match in patches.”

The coach also commented on the Canadians’ robust game.

“You have to expect these against such teams and learn to handle it.”

The draw sees Canada in fourth spot in the seven-team standings with five points. Malaysia also have five points but are fifth due to their poor goal difference.

Leaders Australia are already through to the final. India are second with nine points, followed by defending champions New Zealand.

“We have two tough matches coming up – against Asian rivals Pakistan and India,” said Stephen.

“We will aim for a win, but these two teams always raise their game against us. We will see how those games go.”

Canadian skipper Tupper felt that his team should have gone for a win after netting the equaliser in the 45th minute.

“We lost two points and that’s crucial. We came back and I thought a win was possible.

“We wanted the three points to give ourselves some confidence for the next two matches.”

Tupper, however, praised his team-mates for nullifying Malaysia’s counter attacks, saying “we knew we were in for a tough fight against the speedy Tigers”.

“Malaysia have fast players in the middle and they can catch you off guard,” he explained.

“We made sure they did not threaten us with their counter attacks. We kept it tight.”