Malaysia stun Pak, India crush Japan
The fourth Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament began on a sensational note at the Kuantan Hockey Stadium in Kuantan on Thursday.
Kuantan: The fourth Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament began on a sensational note at the Kuantan Hockey Stadium in Kuantan on Thursday. Faizal Saari scored twice as hosts Malaysia staged a magnificent comeback to stun defending champions Pakistan 4-2 in the opening match of the tournament.
Meanwhile, eyeing their first title triumph in five years, India began its bid on a rollicking note while handing out a 10-2 humiliation on Japan. The hero for the former champion, currently ranked sixth in the world, India was veteran drab-flicker Rupinderpal Singh, who scored six goals from set pieces while Ramandeep Singh, who replaced an injured SV Sunil at the last minute, chipped in with a brace. Affan Yousuf and Talwinder Singh scored a goal each to add verve to India’s quest for resurgence.
Saari converted a penalty stroke in the 37th minute and capitalised on a penalty corner rebound in the dying seconds. Two other Malaysian goals -– from Firhan Ansari and Shahril Saabah also came off penalty corner rebounds that left the Pakistan defence shattered. Both goals for Pakistan, winners of the last two editions of Asian Champions Trophy, were scored by penalty corner strikes from Muhammad Aleem Bilal.
Malaysia took the initial lead in the 13th minute of play from their first penalty corner. Razie Rahim's penalty corner drive was blocked by Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt, but the rebound went to Firhan Ansari who slotted the ball into the boards. Pakistan equalised five minutes later as Bilal stunned the Malaysian goalkeeper with a stining shot.
Bilal was on target again four minutes after half-time with a firm drive to put Pakistan in the lead. Pakistan enjoyed the lead until the 37th minute when the game had to be stopped due to heavy showers. Play resumed after a 20-minute break and Malaysia mounted a raid into the Pakistan circle within a minute.
Malaysia's raid earned them a penalty stroke, but only after they sought a TV referral which showed that the Pakistani goalkeeper had obstructed striker Aiman Nik Rosemi in the goalmouth. The stroke was duly converted by Saari to draw 2-2 parity.