It was a golden opportunity not to be for Malaysia

02 Sep 2018 / 12:57 H.

    JAKARTA: It was just a bridge too far for the Malaysian men's hockey squad to end a 60-year wait to claim their first gold medal after losing 1-3 in a penalty shootout to Japan in the final of the 2018 Asian Games at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, tonight.
    The defeat was even harder to stomach for the national squad when they were leading 5-2 at one stage before the match ended 6-6 and saw Malaysia miss the chance to gain automatic qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
    This is the second time, the squad just could not clear the final hurdle after missing their first shot in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in China.
    The Malaysians were in their element when they led 4-1 in the first two quarters.
    However, after Malaysia widened the score to 5-2 , Japan, ranked 16th in the world found their lethal rhythm to blast in three goals and equalise 5-5.
    Malaysia almost snatched the gold medal after scoring the sixth goal towards the end of the match but with just 20 seconds of play left, Japan equalised with a penalty and forced the match into a penalty shootout.
    In the shootout, it was all over for the Malaysians when they missed three penalty shots via Faizal Saari, Meor Muhammad Azuan Hasan and Tengku Ahmad Tengku Abdul Jalil and handed over the gold medal to Japan.
    Three of the six goals netted by Malaysia in during match time were through two field goals (11th and 12th minutes) as well as a penalty corner in the 59th minute by Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin .
    Three other goals were contributed by Muhammad Razie Abd Rahim and Faizal via penalty corners in the 4th and 17th minutes followed by a field goal by Muhammad Amirol Mohd Arshad in the 50th minute.
    Meanwhile, Japan's six goals were netted by Seren Tanaka in the ninth minute, Kenta Tanaka (23rd minute), Kaito Tanaka (52nd minute) and Koji Yamasaki (58th minute) followed by two penalty corners by Kenta (53rd minute) and Hiromasa Ochiai (60th minute).
    MEANWHILE, national goalkeeper S. Kumar was visibly disappointed over the defeat to Japan.
    "What I can say now is that I am shattered. We played well and even led 5-2, at that time I thought we had qualified for the Olympics.
    "We all have to accept the loss and be satisfied with the silver. We should have killed the match but they fought back," he said when met by Malaysian media after the match tonight. — Bernama

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