Malaysia squeeze into second stage after edging Indonesia

On the defence: Malaysia captain Najmi Farizal Jazlan (centre) tries to stop a Kazakhstan player in their Group B match yesterday. — MHC

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia exacted revenge on Indonesia for their hockey defeat at the Cambodia SEA Games last year when they secured a tense 5-4 win to advance to the second stage of the Indoor Asian Cup in Taldykorganyesterday.

Malaysia were denied the men’s indoor gold by Indonesia as they came back from 0-3 down and won the shootout 2-1 in Cambodia.

In Kazakhstan, Malaysia had started off well with a 3-0 lead but had to stave off a late fightback from Indonesia in the second half to join Kazakhstan in the second stage from Group B.Earlier, Malaysia had kept their hopes of qualifying for the second stage alive after fighting back from two goals down to snatch a 3-3 draw in the dying minutes of their match against hosts Kazakhstan in an earlier match.

Kazakhstan served a shocker through a second minute field goal from Tashkeyev Yermek but Faridzul Afiq Mohd scored the equaliser in the 15th minute for Malaysia by converting a penalty corner.

But Yermek’s penalty corner conversion in the 17th minute and a field attempt from Duisengazy Agymtay in the 34th left Malaysia in trouble.

However, skipper Najmi Farizal Jazlan once again became Malaysia’s saviour by converting two penalty corners in the dying minutes of the match (38th and 39th) to keep the team’s hopes alive in the competition.

“We are relieved to see our team stage a strong fightback despite trailing by two goals towards the end and managed to secure a point,” said national head coach Rodhanizam Mat Radzi.

“Kazakhstan are a strong team and have been preparing well for the tournament. We had anticipated a tough clash and are happy to avoid a defeat.”

Favourites Iran issued a stern warning to their rivals by mauling Tajikistan 37-0 where their key player Mirzhakani Amirmahdi had plundered a mammoth 16 goals in the Group A match.

Thus, world No. 2 Iran have booked their place in the second stage of the tournament with three wins from Group A also consisting Thailand and Singapore.

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