KUALA LUMPUR: The national men’s hockey team began their Belgium Tour Series in style by edging Belgium A 1-0 at the Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein in Antwerp, yesterday.

The Malaysian team, also known as Speedy Tigers, scored the only goal of the match through penalty corner specialist Muhammad Razie Abd Rahim in the 35th minute.

Malaysia, ranked world number 10, will next play against Belgium’s first team, ranked second in the world, tomorrow evening.

Commenting on the win, head coach A. Arul Selvaraj said his charges showed good progress in terms of fitness after 10-weeks of strength and conditioning training.

“We played with all 20 players through the rolling substitutions format. I could see a drastic change in the level of fitness among the players. The win came against a Belgium side which comprised a blend of senior and junior players.

“Belgium also had more penalty corners and better circle penetration, but we controlled the match well, especially towards the final 5 to 8 minutes of play.

“We had 15 circle penetrations and one PC...As for circle penetration we need to work harder but our penalty corner rate was 100 percent from Razie. Our preparations for next game starts now,” he said through a video shared by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC).

The Speedy Tigers, who are in preparations for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2022 from Nov 1 to 10 and 2023 World Cup in Bhubaneswar-Rourkela, India from Jan 13 to 29 next year, are also scheduled to play world number 11, France during the series. - Bernama