Asian Champions Malaysia breezed through pool play and quarter-final unbeaten but could not handle the French team in semi-final, losing in an agonizing shootout. The Netherlands were equally dominant until the semi-finals, when they lost to Germany after challenging them until the end with a spectacular three-goal scoring spree.
In this bronze medal game, the Netherlands drew first blood in the 3rd minute when their captain Roel Bovendeert progressed along the back line, attempted a high shot and batted in goal the rebound from the goal-keeper. The Dutch did not waste any time and added a second goal three minutes later by Thierry Brinkman. Malaysia responded with a penalty-corner and, with three goals in four minutes, the match was launched on a high note!
The Netherlands had another defensive scare but progressively took control of midfield, making the Malaysians run after their long and patient passes. They had a penalty-corner in the 18th minute, which was not scored directly but Tom Hiebendaal managed to find the ball in the mad goalmouth scramble that ensued and push it in goal. Malaysia were dangerous on a couple of penalty-corners but Jan De Wijkerslooth stood tall in the Orange goal to thwart the attempts.
The Netherlands increased their lead in the 23rd minute by Milan Van Baal with a sweet deflection behind his back, his sixth goal of the competition. Thierry Brinkman soon scored his second of the match and, down 1-5 going into the break, the road ahead seemed rather steep for the young Malaysian team.
The Dutch had the match well in hands at the start of second period and Tom Hiebendaal scored his second goal of the match, carbon copy of Van Baal’s deflection behind the back. Malaysia looked somewhat dispirited, unable to entangle themselves from the Dutch press. They did not help their cause when Zulhairi Hashim picked up a yellow card for a reckless diving tackle that took Roel Bovendeert out of the game for a while. The Netherlands took advantage of the numerical advantage to score their seventh goal by Jelle Galema, with still 18 minutes to go in the game.
Malaysia pulled back one goal on penalty-corner, but the Netherlands cruised to a clean victory for the bronze medal, leaving the Malaysians in the worst spot at the foot of the podium.
Speaking on the win Netherlands coach, Sjoerd Marijne said “the team always aims for the top slot and the highest medal. When we came into this match the top most in our minds was to erase our last match against the Germans. We trained and worked on the weak areas for this match and also analysed the footage of our matches that the team played during the tournament, which helped improve the game. The most positive aspect of this team is that the boys are real fighters and do not like losing and if they do loose they know that they have to work on those areas immediately. ”.
Speaking on the loss Malaysia Coach, Raj Dhaarma Muhammad said “it was like playing the semi-finals today and it always feels good to play against a strong and competent team. The team today did not deliver as per expectations and seemed to lose focus and made errors which allowed the opponents to have a convincing win over us”.