KUALA LUMPUR: India and Malaysia have played each other 112 times in men’s hockey. India have won 77 times and Malaysia just 16 times.
Not only that. India also denied the Malaysian men’s hockey team a place in last year’s Rio Olympics when they won 3-2 in the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Hockey League Semi-Finals in Antwerp, Belgium.
Today, the two teams meet again at the same stage of the World Hockey League Semi-Finals. This time, though, the stakes are lower as both have qualified for next year’s World Cup.
A win for Malaysia will not only confirm their World Cup berth, but will also take them into the top eight in world hockey.
That loss still rankles among the Malaysian players.
And if that’s not enough, the two India players who scored in Antwerp – Jasjit Singh Kullar and Satbir Singh – are still in the team and Malaysia had better be wary.
In the 2015 match, Malaysia were leading 2-1 with goals from Mohd Razie Rahim and Mohd Shahril Saabah while Satbir replied for India. Then Jasjit scored two late penalty corner goals (49th and 56th) to dash Malaysia’s Olympic hopes.
Razie, who was the skipper of the team then, still remembers the setback vividly, saying that Jasjit caught them by complete surprise when he took the flicks.
“We didn’t have any data on him and never expected him to be a flicker,” said Razie yesterday.
“He is playing here (in London) but has not scored any goals or taken any flicks. Still, we will be wary of India’s ability to change flickers.”
Razie also warned his team-mates not to just focus on the two players.
“We beat India in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (in Ipoh in May). So, there’s no reason why we can’t do it again. But it will be tough,” said Razie, who has scored three goals in London thus far.
India coach Roelant Oltmans also did not want to be drawn into talking about the Malaysian game.
“For me, what is important is India’s game and how we prepare for it. We are not overly bothered about who we are pitted against. All the four quarter-final matches will be tough.
“We are here to win and will not take any match lightly, although we have an automatic spot in the World Cup,” said Oltmans.
Akashdeep Singh is India’s top scorer with five goals – all field attempts. National Juniors skipper Hermandeep Singh is their main penalty corner flicker.