MALAYSIA lived dangerously, but came back from two-goals down to beat Japan 4-2
for a spot in the semi-finals of the Asia Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh yesterday.
And their highly likely opponents are India, who play Bangladesh today, as a win is
almost assured for the two-time Asia Cup gold medallists.
"The fighting spirit was excellent against Japan, but we can't afford to play like this
in the semi-finals. We must not give away easy goals if we want to win the Asia Cup
for the first time," summed up Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president
Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
As for Malaysian coach Paul Revington: "We stayed focussed, and calm, and that is
what won us the match. In the semi-finals, we have a plan to beat India as the target
set for my team is to win the first title."
Japan score off their first shot at goal, when Malaysia bungled the five-yard rule and
gave away a penalty corner in the fifth minute itself.
Toshiro Tachibana's drag flick was deflected into goal, and the Japanese became
bolder in their attacks.
It did not take long for Japan to score their second goal, in the eighth minute, and
this time it was off a field attempt by Kei Kawakami.
The Malaysian team probably forgot, that they only needed a draw in this match to
advance to the semi-finals, and played sloppy hockey which allowed Japan to
dominate opening play.
Razie Rahim reminded his team-mates on the statistics as in the 13th minute he
scored Malaysia's first goal off the first penalty corner attempt.
And Firhan Ashaari's reverse stick drive in the 28th minute gave Malaysia the
equaliser and breathing space to march into the dressing room with dignity.
The second hald did not start rosy, as four minutes into play, Shukri Mutalib was
benched with a yellow card for stopping a high ball -- as the new International Hockey
Federation (FIH) rule was not used in the Asia Cup.
Goalkeeper Kumar brings off stunning saves to keep Malaysia in the semis, but
Japan were more dangerous in the second half.
And in the 60th minute off their seventh penalty corner, Faizal Saari sent the 2,000-
odd crowd into Sevent Heaven when he finally gave Malaaysia the lead with a sizzling
And with seven minutes on the clock, Japan now needed to score two goals to take
Malaysia out of the semi-finals.
Perak-born Azlan Misron took off the pressure when his diving shot in the 64th
minute gave Malaysia a comfortable 4-2 win.
P W D L F A Pts
PAKISTAN 3 3 0 0 24 1 9
MALAYSIA 3 2 0 1 15 8 6
JAPAN 3 1 0 2 7 12 3
TAIWAN 3 0 0 3 3 28 0
P W D L F A Pts
INDIA 2 2 0 0 10 0 6
S KOREA 2 1 0 1 9 2 3
OMAN 2 1 0 1 4 10 3
B'DESH 2 0 0 2 2 13 0
RESULTS -- Pakistan 13 Taiwan 0, Malaysia 4 Japan 2.
Wednesday: South Korea v Oman (6pm), India v Bangladesh (8pm).