KUALA LUMPUR: The national men’s indoor hockey team created history when they won the 2022 Indoor Hockey Asia Cup for the first time after edging defending champions Iran 3-2 in a shootout after both teams were tied 4-4 at full time in the final in Bangkok, Thailand today.
The win at the Huamark Indoor Stadium enabled Malaysia to end Iran’s domination in indoor hockey, having won the title eight times in a row since the first edition in 2008.
In the shootout, Muhamad Izham Azhar, Norsyafiq Sumantri and Shello Silverius found the mark while goalkeeper Mohd Khairul Afendy Kamaruzaman also stood out when he stopped one of Iran’s attempts.
Norsyafiq was also named man-of-the-match in the final.
Earlier, in regulation time, world number three Iran shot ahead after just three minutes through a penalty corner goal by Mohsen Bohlouli but Malaysia bounced back to take a 2-1 lead courtesy of field goals by Muhammad Ashran Hamsani (12th minute) and Shello Silverius (16th minute).
Although Iran hit back to level the scores four minutes later through a field goal by Amirmahdi Mirzakhani, Malaysia remained unfazed and went 3-2 ahead through a Mohd Norhafizie Jamil Azomi field goal in the 26th minute.
Iran then made it 3-3 through a field goal by Mohammad Karimi (32nd minute) before Muhammad Ashran netted his second goal of the game in the 36th minute to put Malaysia 4-3 up, but Iran again showed their mettle when they scored the equaliser through a penalty corner goal by Hamid Nooranian in the 38th minute.
National head coach Muhamad Amin Rahim praised his men for their performance and determination in carving out a historic win.
“I must praise them for their resilience in achieving victory. Each player gave his best and this is the result of their own hard work. Not easy to play seven matches in eight days.
“I hope indoor hockey will continue to receive attention because we have a big potential to play at the highest level,” he said in a brief statement to the media via the WhatsApp application.
This is the first time in eight years that the national men’s indoor hockey team have managed to make the final of the Asia Cup. The last time they made the final - in the 2014 edition in Changhua, Taiwan - they lost 5-1 to Iran.
Meanwhile, in the women’s section, Malaysia managed to return home with the bronze medal after ousting Kazakhstan 2-0 in the third-placing match at the same venue, thus improving on their fourth placing in the 2019 edition.
The national women’s team got their goals through two penalty stroke conversions by Iren Hussin and Nur Aisyah Yaacob in the 15th and 39th minutes respectively. – Bernama