Malaysia threw out the form book and ranking table when they nicked a 3-2 win over favorites India in the quarter-final of the HERO Hockey World League Semi-final at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London today.
World No.6 India started the match slowly and soaked some Malaysia pressure before conceding in the 19th minute to a powerful Razie Rahim penalty corner which flew of the keeper’s stick into the roof of the net.
Razie turned provider a minute later when another of his beautifully executed penalty corners found Tengku Tajuddin’s perfect run who deflected it pass India’s Vikas Dahiya to give the Speedy Tigers a two goal lead.
Going down 2-0 looked to have waken Roelant Oltmans’ men as Ramandeep Singh initiated a comeback when he tapped in from close range after the ball was smashed in from the wing in the 24th minute.
Ramandeep’s poacher instincts then managed to equalize for India two minutes later when Malaysia’s goalkeeper S.Kumar parried a shot towards the 24-year old following a fluffed penalty corner as both teams entered half-time tied.
India used the momentum well after the break as they piled on hard pressure on Malaysia’s defense but just couldn’t muster up a clear opportunity.
The start of the final quarter saw Malaysia come back to life with man of the moment, Razie getting the winner in the 48th minute by whipping another trademark drag flick to net his fifth goal of the tournament.
S.Kumar then came Malaysia’s rescue in the 54th minute when he pulled of a brilliant save to deny India’s forward Akashdeep Singh who struck a fierce shot on target before his team switched their goalkeeper for a kicking back to push for a last minute equalizer and force penalties.
Malaysia rode their luck a little in the final 30 seconds of the match when they allowed Ramandeep to go unmarked but he wasted a golden opportunity to tap in the ball into an empty net as joyous scenes from the Malaysian bench greeted the final whistle seconds later.
Malaysia’s coach Stephen Van Huizen said, “My players showed massive determination and desire to win even after they equalized, we didn’t lose focus and continued to believe that we could upset them”.
“I have to admit that we had a little good fortune towards the end but we definitely deserved this win. Argentina won’t be easy but like today, anything can happen and our goal is to still finish as high as possible even after already qualifying for next year’s World Cup”, he added after thanking everyone at the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) and all their fans for their support and prayers throughout tough times by dedicating this win as a Raya present for all Malaysians.
This win secures Malaysia’s berth to next year’s Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India as World No.1 Argentina awaits Stephen’s men in Saturday’s semi-final.