Malaysia defeated India 7-6 in a nail-biting shootout to book their place in the Final of the Asian Games. It was indeed a victory to savor for the Malaysians as the match was high intensity, end-to-end and did not offer much space to give the opposition.
A defensive approach with quick counter attacks was one of the key strategies applied by the Malaysian side. This was coupled by their experienced keeper S. Kumar who made supreme saves to deny India on multiple occasions. This, later in the shootout, proved to be crucial in the shootout.
In the initial five shootout, those who scored for Malaysia were Firhan Ashaari and Fitri Saari while India scored through Akashdeep Singh and Harmanpreet Singh. The score was tied at 2-2 at the end of the five shootouts each.
The sudden death went to the wire as Malaysia’s Firhan, Fitri, Meor Mohamad Hassan, Faizal Saari and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin scored while India scored through Harmanpreet, Akashdeep, Manpreet, Dilpreet. Sommapret missed his attempt, which ensured Malaysia’s qualification to the Final of the Asian Games.
“We knew that if we could disrupt their attacking play, we stood a chance the longer we frustrated them, the better our chances became,” said Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen.
“When the score was 2-2, we threw caution into the win and attacked. I knew if it went to shootout, we would greatly fancy our chances. The players showed hunger and desire and that was what took us through to the final”.
India was awarded a penalty corner in the first minute, but Malaysian keeper S. Kumar saved the drag flick by Harmanpreet Singh.
Malaysia though made good of their very first penalty corner in the fifth minute with Mohd Firhan Ashaari scoring from a set piece. The goal decision was short-lived as India won the video referral, resulting in the goal being overturned.
India was awarded a second penalty corner in the 11th minute but Vivek Sagar failed to find the mark. Malaysia played a patient game and slowed things down. But they showed speed and flair when in possession and were awarded a penalty corner in the 13th minute but Sreejesh was equal to the task of saving the attempt by Razie Rahim.
Malaysia defended stoutly as well in the opening five minutes of the second quarter but from a counter attack, Malaysia was awarded a penalty corner in the 20th minute. Faizal Saari, however, was denied by Sreejesh,
India went ahead in the 33rd minute as Harmanpreet send it an unstoppable drag flick to make it 1-0 in favor of India.
Faizal Saari put Malaysia on level terms in the 40th minute from a quick counter after India muffed a penalty corner in the other end.
India hit back seconds later as Varun Kumar put the finishing touches to a penalty corner to give India a 2-1 lead. With one minute on the clock, Malaysia was awarded a penalty corner and Razie powered home the ball to take the match into a shootout. They later kept their calm and went through to the Final, where they now face Japan.