Tigers go down with heads held high

Malaysia put up a brave fight before going down 2-1 to World No.1 Argentina in their semi-final encounter of the HERO Hockey World League Semi-final at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London today.

Bubbling with confidence after upsetting India in the quarter-final , the Speedy Tigers started the match compact and defensively discipline as well as getting the first penalty corner of the match in the 5th minute but failed to open the scoring.

Two minutes later, Argentina gave away another penalty corner but their shot stopper, Juan Vivaldi pulled off a great save to deny Malaysia’s drag flick specialist, Razie Rahim.

Argentina then broke the deadlock in the 13th minute when Lucas Vila slotted the ball between S.Kumar’s legs after the Malaysian veteran goalkeeper saved from Gonzalo Peillat’s penalty corner.

Malaysia had a chance to respond almost immediately but Razie’s penalty corner was once again blocked, this time by an Argentine defender on the goal line as momentum started to build for the current Olympic holders throughout the second quarter.

Four minutes into the second half saw Argentina double their lead through a lapse in concentration by the Malaysian defense which left Kumar exposed while the ball was in the air only for Manuel Brunet to pounce and reel away in celebration.

Malaysia then failed to make use of a glorious opportunity in the 37th minute when they won another penalty corner with only two Argentine defenders on the goal line but all was not lost as the follow up led to Faizal Saari being pushed in the box for a penalty stroke.

Fitri Saari converted the stroke to spark a Malaysia comeback as the third quarter ended in scrappy fashion with both teams finding it hard to hold possession.

Kumar continued to frustrate Argentina’s top scorer Paillet in the 47th minute by brilliantly saving another of the 24-year old’s penalty corners to give his team some motivation to continue surging for an equalizer.

With two minutes to go, Malaysia threw everything at their opponents including switching their goalkeeper for a kicking fullback but nothing materialized until the final whistle.

Stephen Van Huizen’s men will next play in the 3rd & 4th placing match against England tomorrow (9.00 p.m. Malaysia time) before Argentina take on Belgium in the Final at the same venue.

A third place finish will guarantee a place in the 8 team Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final in India this December.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment