Malaysia tops the pool standings at the end of match day two of the 28th Edition Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
The hosts defeated Asian Games gold medalist Japan 4-3 in a thrilling match in front of a partisan crowd.
And two other Asian teams, Korea and India are second and third respectively, both with four points from two matches.
Malaysian coach Roelant Oltmans said they had some good and bad moments in the game.
“We did well to get the goals early and we were also able to stop the Japanese from getting an upper hand in the math. They are a strong side and we had expected a tough game.
“There is no easy game in this tournament and Japan are showing to be an improving side. They also had some good chances that they made good use of. I am happy that our players kept to their structure even under pressure,” he said.
A quick counter-attack along the left flank saw midfielder Fitri Saari crossing the ball into the Japanese D. Faisal Saari running parallel collect the ball in the D and had the simple task of beating goalkeeper Yusuke Tanaka for the opening salvo.
Nik Aiman Nik Rozemi then added the second goal in the seventh minute and put the Malaysians on a firm footing.
But the second quarter saw the deficit reduced within two minutes. Kazuma Morata was the goal scorer from a field attempt. Faizal was on hand in the 25th minute to calm the Malaysian nerves as he scored another field goal to take his tournament tally to five goals.
The Japanese did not give up and in the third quarter showed why they are becoming a powerhouse in Asian hockey.
Kota Watanabe ran 30 meters from the middle and with five Malaysian defenders back pedaling, slammed the ball on the run past Hairi Abdul Rahman for their second goal.
The Malaysians finally got a big breakthrough when they earned their first penalty corner of the match in the 53rd minute. This time Mohamed Razie Rahim took the flick and duly scored.
The joy was short-lived. Japan struck back and in the 54th minute, Koji Yamasaki scored a field goal.
Meanwhile Korea and India started the day with both walking away with a point each as Korea scored 23 seconds from time for a 1-1 scoreline.
While Canada bounced back from their opening day defeat to Korea to register a comprehensive 4-0 win over last minute replacements Poland.
Indian coach David John did not mince his words after India was held to a 1-1 draw by Korea at the Azlan Shah Cup match at Ipoh.
Despite dominating the match and having a 1-0 lead for a large part of the match. India conceded several penalty corners in the dying minutes.
And with the clock only showing only 23 seconds remaining, Jang Jong Hyun slammed home a penalty corner to share
“We should have put away the game and scored a couple more as we had better chances in the first three quarters. But we did not take those chances that came our way,” said David.
“The last quarter saw the rain providing some assistance to the Koreans. The break allowed them to catch their breath and come away with a point. So, in a sense coming away with a point is still a whole lot better,” he added
It was a not a classic encounter as the early part had India in the driver’s seat and they were heading for a win when play was stopped in the 52nd minute.
India scored their goal in the 28th minute through a field attempt by Mandeep Singh.
Both sides continued to work their way into the D to get a shot at goal but most of the attempts fell wide.
The Koreans were a subdued unit unlike their game against the Canadians which was fast and clinical.
India on their other hand used their experience to control the midfield play and were more structured defensively.
In the third quarter, rain fell and the game was stopped in the 52nd minute when the pitch became unplayable.
The game resumed after an hour delay and this saw the Koreans pushing hard for the equaliser.
The Koreans in full control had five penalty corners to get the goal. The fifth attempt with 23 seconds on the clock, bore fruit.
Canada left it late but did enough to register a convincing 4-0 win over Poland.
The 10th ranked Canadian team took the lead in the 36th minute Brendan Bisset scored from open play to give his team the lead.
Devohn Noronha Teixeira then put them in a more comfortable position with a second goal in the 47th minute from a field attempt.
The Poland side had two penalty corners to get a goal but was not able to execute them properly.
Gordon Johnston sealed the victory for the North American team with a penalty corner goal in the 55th minute.
For good measure, the Canadians scored a fourth goal when a quick counter-attack allowed Devohn to slam home from top D for his second goal of the game.
To view the media from day 2, please click: https://bit.ly/2TtLvnG