KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia came back from a goal down to force a 1-1 draw with India in the MHF Under-19 international invitational hockey tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil here yesterday.
The Malaysians were not as sharp as they were against the South Korea, whom they beat 3-1 in the previous day, but still managed to keep the Indians at bay and then converted a penalty corner for the equaliser in the 48th minute.
The Indians dominated the match but they could make their chances count. A 45th minute strike by forward T. Khandekar brought them some relief.
For Malaysia, Megat Azrafiz stood out with his timely interceptions in the heart of the Malaysian defence. Goalkeeper Khairul Nizam also did well with saves in the second half.
Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen they were lucky to snatch the draw as India were definitely the better team.
“The players' fitness level were not up to the mark and it showed up in the in the second half. This is an area that we have to work on,” he said.
The Malaysians were forced to leave out Engku Abdul Malek from their list of 16 players and fullback Megat Azrafiq stood in as the skipper. Engku was struck on the head in the match against South Korea on Sunday.
Malaysia took a defensive approach and only had three players upfront while the Indians launched most of the attack on the flanks.
The second half was livelier than the first with both sides making greater attempts to score a goal.
India went in front with a break through the middle in the 45th minute and Khandekar beat two defenders to score scored from top D.
But the Indians' joy was short-lived.
Malaysians came charging back and equalised three minutes later.
In their fourth penalty corner, Megat’s flick at goal was deflected into the net by Mohamed Izawan Hassan from close range past goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza.
Indian coach Harinder Singh said that the match provided some important lessons for his players.
“They have to realise that when you control a match, you can't waste the chances and expect to win it. They also failed to check the Malaysians coming forward.
“But it was a good match and I think my players will come off it much wiser,” said Harinder.