PETALING JAYA: Malaysia opened their Nations Cup campaign on a losing note against Asia Cup champions South Korea.
The Koreans gained revenge over the Speedy Tigers with a 1-0 win in Potchefstroom, South Africa yesterday.
Two weeks ago, they had lost 2-3 in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.
Jang Jong-hyun (pic), who has often troubled the Tigers in recent matches, was on target when he converted a fifth-minute penalty corner that decided the outcome of a tight contest.
Malaysia were not derailed by the early setback as they kept fighting but a full-strength Korean side ensured they earned three points in Group B to keep alive their hopes of a semi-final spot.
Malaysia will play Canada in their second match today (7pm) and a win will renew their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s group rivals Japan sounded a stern warning when they secured a commanding 3-0 win over Canada in their opening match.
Penalty corner goals from Ken Nagayoshi (22nd and 35th minutes) Taiki Takade (29th minute) gave them a rousing start in the tournament.
In a Group A clash, world No. 13 Ireland upstaged world No. 11 France 2-1 to stay ahead in the hunt for a last four spot.