Sunday, 16 March 2014 | MYT 10:32 PM
Malaysia fight back to hold Koreans to a draw
Faizal Saari (second left) being congratulated by his team-mates after scoring the equaliser against South Korea during their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup match in Ipoh. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. - SAIFUL BAHRI / The Star
IPOH: Malaysia turned in a magnificent second-half performance to come back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Asia Cup champions South Korea in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament.
A minute of silence was observed by both teams at the Azlan Shah Stadium before the start of the match on Sunday, as respect for the passengers and crew of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, which vanished on March 8.
The Koreans were quick off the mark with striker Oh Dae-keun netting a brace in the 10th and 30th minutes.
Forward Mohd Shahril Saabah, who earned his second international cap, converted a penalty corner in the 58th minute. Faizal Saari, who scored the winning goal against South Africa on Thursday, equalised in the 65th minute off another penalty corner.
Malaysia, who wasted 11 penalty corners against South Africa on Thursday, did well to score from two of the three awarded against the Koreans.
With the draw, Malaysia kept alive their hopes for a place in the final after garnering four points from a win and a draw.
The Koreans, who lost to Malaysia 3-2 in the same tournament last year, also have four points from two matches.
While the Koreans started off aggressively, the homesters got off to a jittery start and hardly earned a single penalty corner in the first half.
And when skipper and defender Azlan Misron received a hit on his nose during a tackle in the eighth minute, the game turned around.
While Azlan, who plays as the last man, was getting treatment off the field, the Koreans took advantage to take the lead two minutes later.
Jung Man-jae collected a ball from the top D before making a through pass to Dae-keun, who easily tucked the ball past goalkeeper Mohd Hafizuddin Othman.
Two minutes later, the Koreans squandered their first penalty corner, only to get another penalty corner in the 17th minute. This time, Hafizuddin did well to stop the flick from Jang Jong-hyun.
Seasoned forward Tengku Ahmad Tajudin had a golden chance to equalise from close range in the 24th minute but his hit went wide.
The Koreans increased their lead in the 30th minute thanks to poor defending by the Malaysian backline.
Dae-keun was the toast of the Koreans, deflecting the ball into the goal off a free hit by Kim Seong-kyu from outside the semi-circle.
It was a revitalised Malaysian team after the breather as the strikers surged forward with the aim of reducing the deficit.
And their hard work was rewarded with a penalty corner in the 58th minute and striker Shahril beat a defender before scoring a reverse-stick goal.
Malaysia earned another penalty corner in the 65th minute and Faizal made no mistake from the top D.
The homesters went on to earn another penalty corner in the dying minutes but Faizal’s flick went wide.
Goalkeeper Hafizuddin, who earned his second international cap, was named Man of the Match after making a number of commendable saves.
Chief coach K. Dharmaraj praised his players for coming back from two goals down to snatch a point against the Koreans.
“We had six new players in the team and they did well against the experienced Koreans. Our strategy of playing cautiously in the first half and going all out after the breather paid off,” said Dharmaraj, who is looking forward to a win against Canada on Monday.