Malaysia produced a stunning performance to hold the defending champion, Korea, to a 2-2 draw in pool A of the men’s hockey competition at the Asian Games in Guangzhou on Thursday, writes Mr S. Thyagarajan. But the more important point of the schedule was the fabulous performance by Pakistan, which outclassed Japan by a whopping 8-2 margin in Pool B.
A measure of the intensity of the combat can be gleaned from the fact that Korea leveled when only five remained from the hooter. It was a lively and tension packed encounter that saw the spirited Malaysians almost causing a major shock to a squad that is in quest for a hat-trick of gold medals.
True, the Koreans were quick on their feet and packed power in their drives, but the Malaysian defenders headed by Razie smothered the attacks with palpable equanimity.
The Koreans were to score first in the 10th minute through Hyun Hyesung but Malaysia came back into the match when Aslan Misron tapped in a forward pass for the equalizer. Shortly after the break, it was Malaysia that held the advantage thanks to quick sallies by Noor and Jalil. The combination helped Hanifi to strike the lead.
Put under pressure to avoid a reverse, the Koreans summoned all their strengths in search of an equalizer which emerged only five minutes before the close when Seo Jungho netted. There were some tense moments at the Malaysian goal but goal-keeper Kumar Subramaniam stood like a rock in blocking the withering drives from the Korean attackers.
Former champion, Pakistan, which demolished Hong Kong China by a dozen goals in its opening match, had a measure of Japan in Pool B with a 8-2 victory.
Taken aback by an early goal by Kenji Kitazato from a penalty corner sequence, the Pakistanis retaliated in quick time netting a series of three goals in the first half. Fareed Ahmed produced the leveler followed by an immaculate penalty corner hit by Sohail Abbas. And then came a peach of a goal by Muhammad Rizwan who darted in delectably and delivered a devastating a reverse shot to beat the goal-keeper.,
After resumption, Sohail Abbas and Waqas Muhammad, Imran Muhammad, Shakeel Abbasi and Zubair Muhammad scored in that order to take the team to a memorable victory.
Oman recovered from a 0-1 deficit to get full points against Singapore in a Pool A encounter. Initially, the initiative was with Singapore, which forged ahead thanks to a brilliant backhander by Enrico Manican. The team managed to hold on to the lead till the break despite the attempts by Omani forwards to build pressure. A penalty corner by Rajib Basim hit the cross piece and bounced away.
After the resumption, Oman, worked up a few good moves and restored parity from a goal by Al Hasni in the 55th minute. Four minutes later came the match winner for Oman from Al Shibli.
Casting aside the shock inflicted by India, which won 9-0, Bangladesh recovered well to overwhelm Hong Kong China by seven goals to three in a Pool B match. The hero of Bangladesh’s victory was the wiry drag flicker Chayan Mdmamurnur, who pumped in four goals. The 21-year old Chyan is product of the Bangladesh Sports Institute and is currently pursuing collegiate education.
Skipper Reshel Mahamad netted two goals, each one as splendid as the other from a deflection.
For Hong Kong China, which is coached by the former Malaysian international, Sarjit Singh, the veterans, the Ali brothers, Arif and Azghar, were conspicuous.
Men: Pool A: Oman 2 (Al Hasni Waleed, Al Shibli Samir) beat Singapore 1 (Enrico Marican) HT 0-1.
Malaysia 2 (Aslan Misron, Hanifi) drew with Korea 2 (Hyun Hyesung, Seo Jongho) HT 1-1.
Pool B: Bangladesh 7 (Chayan Mdmamurnur 4, Rashel Mahamud 2,Alam Maksud)) beat Hong Kong 3 (Asghar Ali 2,Arif Ali) HT 3-2.
Pakistan 8 (Fareed Ahmed, Sohail Abbas 2, Muhammad Rizwan, Waqas Muhammad, Imran Muhammad. Shakeel Abbasi, Waseem Ahmed, Zubair Muhammad) beat Japan 2 (Kenji Kitazato, Kazuhiro Tsubouchi ) HT 3-1.
Men: Pool A: Oman v Malaysia China v Korea
Women: India vThailand ; China v Japan; Malaysia v Kazakhstan
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