JAKARTA: Malaysia’s Olympic dream and Asian Games 2018 gold went up in smoke as they lost the men’s hockey final to Japan after a penalty shootout at the GBK Hockey Stadium.
The match ended 6-6 at the normal time and Japan went on to win the shootout 3-1.
It was Japan’s first ever gold medal in the event and they also go on to score a historic double in the Asian Games.
They won the gold medal in both men and women’s category. This is a feat only achieved by the South Korean in 1986 and 1994.
The Malaysian fought bravely and they were just one minute away from the gold medal and were leading 6-5.
But with 13 seconds to go, the Japanese earned a penalty corner and scored the equalizer to take the match into a shootout.
This is also the first time the final has seen 12 goals scored in normal play.
The only Malaysian who scored in the shootout was Mohamed Firhan Azhaari.
For the Japanese the scorers were Koji Yamasaki, Kenta Tanaka and Kazuma Morata.
“What can I say, I am very proud of my players. They achieved what was deemed the impossible and they will cherish this gold medal for the rest of their lives,” said a joyful Japan coach Siegfried Aikman.
“The never give up attitude is what saw us triumph today. This is such a great event for hockey in Japan as for men’s and women’s team.”
“We didn’t play in the first half but a harsh word in the dressing room turned the tide. We knew we can play better than that and the players proved it with a sterling show in the third and fourth quarter,” he added.
The game took off on a fast pace with four goals in the first quarter.
The Malaysian scored from their first penalty corner in the fourth minute through Mohamed Razie Rahim. It was his 11th goal of the tournament.
But a defensive lapse on the eighth minute allowed the Japanese to hit back.
Seren Tanaka sped away from the 25-yard line and form an acute angle slammed the ball high into the net. Kumar had no chance of saving it.
In a six-minute spell, the Malaysians scored three goals to take a 4-1 lead.
Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin was on target in the 10th minute with a long-range reverse hit. Then he followed up with another goal from a similar fashion.
Another penalty corner in the 16th minute saw Razie scoring his second goal with his powerful drag flick.
The Malaysian should have consolidated their defence and keep the attack going. Instead, there was a defensive play on their part.
In the 22nd Kenta Tanaka took advantage of a gap in the defence and scored Japan’s second goal.
The Malaysians then had to dig in for a fight. At halftime, Malaysia led 4-2.