Malaysia went down 1-4 to Ireland in their third match in the Five Nation Insep Hockey Challenge in Paris and may have let go an opportunity to win their first ever international tournament since 2005.
Although Malaysia have six points from two wins and a loss, they are in second spot, behind Scotland who also have six points as the Scots have scored eight goals as opposed to Malaysia's seven goals. Ireland moved up to third spot with five points as a result of two draws and the win over Malaysia while hosts France have four points following their 6-4 win over Poland today that condemned the Poles into last place for the tournament.
Malaysia will know just what they have to do against France tomorrow (Sunday) as Ireland will play against Scotland in an earlier match. If the Scots win, then Malaysia will need to better the number of goals Scotland scores in that match while an Ireland win means Malaysia has to win over France to emerge champions.
A defeat for Malaysia, with an Ireland win would mean Malaysia could end up in fourth spot, thus belittling their world ranking as they are the top ranked team in the tournament.
Coach Stephen van Huizen was peeved at the performance of the players, but lest be accused of coming up with excuses, Stephen did defend his team.
"We played badly and deserve to lose but at the same time we have to realise that the players must be tired after playing 12 matches during this tour," said Stephen.
"There was no urgency in their play and they seem to have lost their zest, hence the poor result in the match today. Still that is no excuse to lose to Ireland as it makes things more complicated and has opened up the tournament for the other teams.
"We could have put Ireland out of the equation and sit pretty on the top of the standings. But as it stands we can even end up second last.
"There is everything to play for against France, whom I must say have improved since the tournament startted."
Malaysia opted to play Roslan Jamaluddin in goal instead of S. Kumar as part of their rotation policy to provide players with more playing time.
Ireland opened scoring in the 12th minute via Eugene Magee who converted a penalty corner. But Malaysia drew evel in the 46th minute when Hafifihafiz Hanafi scored. Ireland hit back two minutes later through Mitch Darling and relied on counter attacks to catch Malaysia off guard to score another two goals.
Mitch scored the third in the 55th minute and Eugene made sure of the three points, scoring Ireland's fourth in the 65th minute.
"We have a chance to atone for the poor performance and the players realised that they cannot expect results if they play like that," said Stephen.
Such is the situation of the players due to the fasting month that the two players seected for random doping, Mohd Shukir Mutalib and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin had failed to produce a sample even after the end of the France v Poland match, some two hours after the end of the Malaysian match.