Kuantan (27 Oct, 2016): Drag-flick specialist Razie Rahim plucked Malaysia Tigers out of the abysses with a late penalty corner strike as the hosts drew 1-1 with Korea in the QNET 4th Asian Champions Trophy at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium today.
Razie scored the equaliser in the 56th minute after Jeong Jungwoo had given the Koreans the lead in the 37th minute from a field goal. The Malaysians finished second in the table standings with 10 points – three behind India while Pakistan, who defeated China 4-0 earlier today, ended their pool matches campaign in third spot (9), and Korea fourth (7).
The Malaysians take on Pakistan and India will play Korea in the semi-finals on Saturday.
China and Japan, who finished fifth and last respectively, will meet in the fifth-sixth classification encounter.
Malaysian head coach, Stephen van Huizen, said: “We ended the pool matches on a high. That was a great performance from the players. They knew we had to draw or win this match and applied a lot of pressure on Korea.”
“It is never easy coming back when you are one goal down especially against a Korean side that has been playing better after every match in this tournament,” he added.
Korea’s head coach, Paul Lissek, also expressed his satisfaction with the 1-1 draw against a Malaysian side which he labelled as a “greatest team’ in this tournament apart from India.
“We played our best match of the tournament to hold Malaysia to this draw today. Normally I am not the type to be happy with a draw but against Malaysia you just have the happy with the outcome of this result. So, looking at the positive side, if we beat India in the semi-finals, we can also win the title for the first time,” said the German.
Malaysia Tigers were dealt a big blow hours before the start of the match following the one-match suspension on forward Firhan Ashari imposed by the disciplinary committee for infringement committed during the Malaysia-India match on Wednesday. He was alleged to have deliberately elbowed Akashdeep Singh.
The committee also handed down a two-match suspension on India’s defender Surender Kumar who lifted his stick in an inappropriate manner thereby causing his stick to hit the chin of Malaysian player Asri Hassan. Surender will not feature in the semi-finals and final as well should India qualify.
Stephen van Huizen rested first choice and season goalkeeper S. Kumar and instead introduced Hafizuddin Othman against the Koreans.
The Malaysians did not waste much time at the start of the game and had the first look at the Korean goalmouth by the third minute but Rashid Baharom’s shot went wayward. Korea, on the opposite end, found enough space in a porous defence and got their first penalty corner in the 19th minute but Kim Seong Yeob’s shot was timely stopped by Aiman Nik Rosemi and pushed away.
In a sudden exchange of continued counter-attacks the hosts were back on top of their game and earned a penalty corner in the 22th minute but the ever reliable drag-flick specialist Razie’s push to the bottom left corner of the goalmouth was padded away by goalkeeper Hong Doopyo. The Malaysia Tigers earned three more penalty corners but without any positive result.
Paul Lissek-coached Koreans, however, proved their quality and ability with a great effort in the 23rd minute and almost had the first goal of the day when Kim Sung Yeob’s penalty corner flick struck the right post and deflected to the sideline as the first half ended scoreless.
Korea returned in the third quarter and got the best opportunity of taking a lead when Huang Taeli’s powerful shot from the right flank sailed past several Malaysian defenders and the unmarked Jeong Junwoo met the ball and deflected into goal. The early goal came as a shock to the more than 3,000 fans as complete silence fell in the stadium.
But the night turned from deep sorrow to great joy for Malaysia Tigers and the well-behaved 3,000 fans when Razie, a trainee with the Royal Malaysian Police Force, scored from a powerful flick past Hong Doopyo in the 56th minute.
The Koreans, down to 10 men in the last three minutes of play, went into full swing in search of the winning goal and earned their third penalty corner but Kang Moonkyu shot was pushed away by the young Hafizuddin. The fans heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Pakistan sealed a spot in Saturday’s semi-finals against Malaysia following a 4-0 victory over China in the last round-robin league match today.
The match started at a very slow pace with both teams ending the first quarter with no goals. Pakistan, however, looked better and earned the first penalty corner in the 21st minute as Abdul Khan nailed it with a powerful low push to the right of goalkeeper Ao Zhewei.
Abdul Khan’s second penalty corner attempt five minutes later was, however disallowed by Malaysian umpire Norazmi Safar but the 2012 and 2013 champions quick counter-attacking game saw them take a 2-0 lead in the 31st minute, once again via a Abdul Khan’s penalty corner.
Pakistan closed China’s sad chapter in the tournament with two field goals from Ali Shan and Muhammad Irfan Jr three minutes after the interval.
“The result was good as we enter the semi-finals and we must maintain this kind of result throughout,” said Pakistan head coach, Khawaja Junaid. “There were many positives in this match. We had a good structure and the boys played exceptionally well.”
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