HANGZHOU: The national men’s hockey team saw its bid to qualify early for the semifinals thwarted by South Korea after losing 4-3 in a Group B match at the Asian Games today.
Both teams exchanged goals in rapid fire fashion at the Gongshu Canal Sports Park Stadium, with the Speedy Tigers snatching the lead in the fifth minute through Ashran Hamsani’s finish.
South Korea equalised after star player Jang Jong-hyun, who has extensive experience playing in the local league with Terengganu Hockey Team, scored from a penalty stroke in the 11th minute.
Malaysia retook the lead when Faizal Saari calmly converted a penalty corner in the 30th minute, but the Koreans once again managed to tie the game through Lee Nam-yong two minutes into the third quarter.
A Arul Selvaraj’s men went in front again with a goal from Razie Rahim’s penalty stroke in the 44th minute, but that was quickly cancelled out when Jang scored from a penalty corner almost immediately after.
Razie then missed a golden opportunity to put Malaysia back in front from a penalty stroke in the fourth quarter, just before South Korea scored the winner through Yang Ji-hun’s penalty stroke goal five minutes before the final whistle.
Today’s defeat was Malaysia’s first in the group stage after they beat Thailand 9-0, Oman 11-1 and Indonesia 9-2.
“There were some simple mistakes and I want to remind the players not to switch off on the field. This was our weakness because our awareness was off.
“We moved at a slower pace today because we were not alert enough,” said Arul after the match.
He also refused to blame Razie for failing to score from the penalty stroke.
Meanwhile, Razie admitted to being disappointed after his miss but is determined to make amends against China in the last group match on Monday.
“I take responsibility for today’s result. I hope we will rise and do our best for the last match,” said the 26-year-old.
Malaysia, South Korea and China are currently tied on nine points but Arul’s men top the group on goal difference.