By T.N. Alagesh
AFTER conceding three goals in the first half, Malaysia staged a late comeback to hold Australia 3-3 in their third Test at the Indera Mahkota Hockey Stadium in Kuantan yesterday.
The heavy downpour during the match did not dampen the players' spirits as Malaysia pushed forward in the final minutes and Jivan Mohan scored off a goalmouth melee in the 68th minute to draw level.
The national team, who lost the previous two matches, looked to be heading for a third defeat when Australia captain Liam De Young gave the Champions Trophy bound side the lead in the 13th minute when he scored from close range.
Two minutes later, C. Ciriello scored off a penalty corner setpiece with a rising flick and Fergus Ravanagh, who collected a long pass from the centre of the field in the 31st minute, scored past Mohd Abdul Hakim, who was making his debut in the Malaysian goal.
|Malaysia’s Mohamad Sukri Abd Mutalib (left) tries to stop Australia’s C. Ciriello in their third test at the Indera Mahkota Hockey Stadium in Kuantan yesterday. The match ended 3-3. Pic: HALIM MAT ALI.|
The national team hardly had a decent opportunity to score in the first half, and Malaysian Hockey Federation president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah must have been unimpressed.
When the match resumed, Malaysia launched several raids and their efforts paid off in the 38th minute through Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin.
The hardworking Mohd Razie Abd Rahim then scored from close range in the 53rd minute.
Jivan then completed the comeback with his effort two minutes from time. National coach Tai Beng Hai said the players had executed their tactics accordingly and managed to play their normal game after failing to do so in the previous two matches.
He said the draw was a good sign that the team were on track and the test matches are the platform for the players to prove their worth on the pitch.
"The players have another two matches to impress me and I hope the rotation system deployed for the matches gives all players, especially the young ones, an opportunity to play.
"The players were too eager to attack in the first half, and this gave the Australians the opportunity to hit three goals but they followed my instructions well in the second half," he said.