Canada remain unbeaten in Kuantan.
Canada remain unbeaten in Kuantan.
(Photo: FIH)

Canada and Korea won their matches today against France and Malaysia, respectively. Both are on four points now but Korea have the better goal difference lifting them to the top of pool B after Day 2 of the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan. France lost 3-2 to Canada, while host nation Malaysia suffered their second defeat, 3-1 against Korea.

Canada v France 3-2 (1-1)

Canada remain unbeaten in the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan after winning their second pool B match 3-2 against France. “This was a good game for us”, said Canadian coach Anthony Farry. “Kuantan is a very good place to play hockey, we really enjoy the crowd.” Captain Scott Tupper agrees: “It is hard for us to play here because we come from the Canadian winter but here it’s much better than playing at 4 degrees in Vancouver.”

This encounter promised to be an exciting one as Canada created a shock by drawing 3-3 with Korea on Day 1 while France came out on top in their opening match against host nation Malaysia, winning the game 3-2. 

Canada’s team captain Scott Tupper (4’) started the move that led to the first goal, sending a penalty corner shot into the bottom of the goal. However, the Tricolores were able to strike back 10 minutes later when Victor Charlet converted France’s first penalty corner. The remaining minutes in the first half saw both teams searching for the lead but neither were able to capitalize on their chances. The halftime score was tied at 1-1.

Canada built a two goal lead in the second half with Philip Wright (43’) and Iain Smythe (58’) getting on the scoreboard. The Tricolores fought hard to bounce back from a 3-1 deficit but could not find the back of the net. After Charlet (64’) had added another penalty corner goal to make it 3-2, France replaced their goalkeeper with an 11th field player but the equalizer did not come.

“It is difficult for us to play two matches within two days”, said French coach Frederic Soyez. “We are here with a very young team and we want to improve.” 

Malaysia v Korea 1-3 (0-1)

Korea walked away with a convincing 3-1 win over host nation Malaysia in Sunday’s last match in the Stadium Hockey Wisma Belia. As Korea have a better goal difference than Canada, they are now on top of pool B.

Malaysia were seeking to strike back against Korea today after they lost yesterday’s match against France. As both teams will participate in the Rabobank Hockey World Cup kicking off in The Hague on May 31, this match is an important reckoner for both teams.

Despite having had more ball possession and scoring opportunities, the host nation was one goal behind at halftime. Korea managed to force a penalty corner on 19 minutes and Nam Hyun fired a dragflick past Malaysia’s goalie Kumar Subramiam to give his team the lead. Malaysia created a lot of promising scoring opportunities but they were unable to break down the Korean defence.

The second half started with You Hyo Sik (37’) grabbing an early goal to double Korea’s advantage. Soon after, the leading team forced their second penalty corner which was parried well by Malaysian Sukri Mutalib to keep his team in the contest. However, Korea eventually extended their lead to 3-0 when Jang Jong Hyun scored from their third penalty corner. Despite the disheartening scoreline, the Malaysian supporters kept on singing throughout the match. With one minute remaining Ismail Abu provided the 3-1 consolation goal much to the delight of the crowd.

“We played much better than yesterday but unfortunately we didn’t take the chances we created. Now we hope to beat Canada because otherwise we will play New Zealand in the quarter final and this will be a tough match” said Malaysia coach Muhammad Dhaarmaraj.