NOTE: Pakistan 3-0 up by the 18th minute...
MALAYSIA played total attacking hockey to beat India 2-0 to keep their golden target alive in the Junior Asia Cup at the MBM Stadium in Malacca yesterday.
The win dented India’s dream of a hat-trick of titles, but it ignited a fire which might just land Malaysia their first Junior Asia Cup title.
Malaysia will play Pakistan on Sunday, while South Korea and India will battle for the bronze.
In the second semi-finals, Pakistan beat South Korea 6-1.
The tournament, incepted in 1987, saw Malaysia in the final only once in 1992, while it was failure at the semi-finals stage in 1987, 2000 and 2004.
“It is indeed a super show from my boys as they played non- stop hockey for 70 minutes. The title is within our reach now, and I believe in my players ability to deliver the gold in Malacca,” said Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj.
Faizal Saari, who played in the Dublin Olympic Qualifier, drew first blood off Malaysia’s second penalty corner in the 40th minute, when he sent the ball to the roof and sent 4,500- odd fans into wild celebrations.
And there were more misses, as sitters went a begging, but Syamim Yusof put the Indian’s to bed with a diving attempt after Faizal’s pass tricked bumpily towards him in the 65th minute.
“I was quite surprised to see India playing a defensive game, as they soaked in the pressure and only attacked on counter from both the flanks for 35 minutes.
“And my players were not sharp enough to score in the first half even though we had five chances. However, in the dressing room, we told them to take a step back and enjoy the game and don’t be in a hurry when in the semi-circle.
“That’s what won us the match and now we are just a step away from the second target in this tournament,” said team manager Mirnawan Nawawi.
Mirnawan has been in this position before, as he skippered the 1992 team which reached the final of the Junior Asia Cup, only to lose the gold to Pakistan in Ipoh.
Malaysia have never been at the top of the podium in the Junior Asia Cup, but come Sunday, that dream might just become a reality.
RESULTS: Semi-finals -- Malaysia 2 India 0, Pakistan 6 South Korea 1.
SUNDAY: Final -- Malaysia v Pakistan (8pm); Third-Fourth: South Korea v India (5pm).