MALAYSIA played a game of two halves to hold Japan toa 2-2 draw in the Champions Challenge I at the Randburg Hockey Stadium in Johannesburg yesterday.
The national players lost 3-1 to Canada in the opening match, and will meet Argentina on Tuesday. However, the three Group B matches have no bearing as the eight-team tournament has a quarter-finals fixture.
Japan scored two goals in the first 10 minutes of the match when Hiroki Sakamoto (sixth) and Katsuyoshi Nagasawa (ninth) made sure with deft touches.
The national players looked like they forgot to check in basic skills and determination when they boarded the flight to South Africa and played like novices in the first 35 minutes.
But there was more effort put in into the second half, as Japan were forced to defend in the last 15 minutes of the match.
Malaysia’s fight back was started by Amin Rahim, who scored the solitary goal against Canada, when he pushed in a low flick to Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin to deflect in a 52nd minute penalty corner.
And then, Amin made sure with another powerful penalty corner flick in the 69th minute to give Malaysia their first point in the tournament.
Japan have two points in the tournament, as they drew their first match 2-2 against Argentina. The Japanese next play Canada on Tuesday.
RESULTS: Group B: Argentina 3 Canada 2, Malaysia 2 Japan 2.
TUESDAY: Group A: India v Poland (9pm), Belgium v South Africa (11pm).
Group B: Canada v Japan (5pm), Malaysia v Argentina (7pm).
NOTE: Malaysian time.