Indian men’s hockey team today lost to a tricky Malaysia in penalties 6-7 in the Asian Games semi-final. India will have to fight for a bronze but it is certain that they are not defending their gold medal and will not get a direct qualification for Tokyo Olympics.
This was the repeat of the scenario in 2010, India lost to Malaysia in the semi-final of 2010 Asian Games and back then Harendra Singh was the coach.
Earlier in the match, Malaysia looked dangerous in counter attacks and eventually won a penalty corner. They converted and went 1-0 up, but a video referral by Rupinder came to India’s rescue and the goal was disallowed as it hit the foot of Malaysian player.
The first two quarters went goal-less, with the teams having equal chances to convert.
In the third quarter, India came up with a mission and they got a PC in 33′ minute of the game which was converted by Haramanpreet Singh courtesy of a fierce flick in right corner of the net which got deflected from the hand of the Malaysian skipper Mohamad Abdul Mutalib.
Malaysia kept building their counter attacks and were successful in the 38′ minute when they found Indian defense off-guard. Fitri Saari broke into the Indian “D” and passed the ball to Faizal Saari who didn’t do any mistake to net the ball past Sreejesh.
India were quick to reply with another penalty corner goal via a variation, well converted by Varun Kumar in 40′ minute. India maintained its lead 2-1 and it was certain that they would make their second consecutive final and become the first team to defend their Asian Games gold medal but Malaysia had other plans as they got the equalizer in the 59′ minute courtesy of Muhammad Abd Rahim’s penalty corner conversion.
The match went to the shootout and up ahead was Malaysia’s 38-year-old experienced campaigner Kumar Subramaniam in the goal.
Malaysia got off to a flier in the shootout as they converted and went 1-0 up after Manpreet Singh was denied a chance by Subramaniam. It was even-stevens as both the team were 2-2 after the end of 5 shots. Harmanpreet Singh and Akashdeep Singh converted for India. Ashari and Fitri Saari scored for Malaysia.
In the sudden death, it was a neck to neck battle as all the four players scored for both the teams. In the fifth shot, Malaysia got the lead courtesy of Tengku and in the tensed situation SV Sunil missed out on a chance that ousted India from the gold medal match which also means that we will have a new champion this year.
Another semi final will be between Pakistan and Japan from 6:30 PM.