India lost the final game of the round robin league to Malaysia today, but will play Pakistan in the finals of the Asian Champions trophy in Doha, Qatar tomorrow (December 27th). India had already qualified for the final yesterday after beating Pakistan 2-1.
Most viewers believed that Malaysia were pretty much eliminated from the tournament even before the game began, since Malaysia needed Pakistan to either lose or draw against Japan (Pakistan won that game 5-2). With Pakistan winning their game, Malaysia now needed to beat India with an improbable six plus goal margin to qualify for the final. Most observers found that margin improbable, including us, and thought it impossible until midway through the game the score was 4-0 in favor of Malaysia. Two more goals and Malaysia would have qualified instead of Pakistan, but India didn’t let that happen as they scored three goals in response to make the score more respectable. Malaysia got another goal late in the game to make the final score 5-3, but by them it was clear to all in the stadium that it was going to be another clash of the big hockey giants of Asia, Pakistan and India.
The scorers for Malaysia were Mohd Fitri Saari in the 18th minute and Azlan Misron via a penalty corner in the 20th minute. Fitri Saari scored again via a brilliant tomahawk to make it three goals to nil in the 27th minute. After the break, Faizal Saari rocketed down the right flank, beat a couple of Indian defenders, including vice captain Raghunath, and make the score four -zero in favour of Malaysia in the 38th minute. India them came back 10 minutes later with Birendra Lakra scoring his team’s first goal of the game through a long corner in the 48th minute. The Indians started to play better and looked more menacing, and in the 61st minute Somanna set up his teammate Sunil in the striking circle with a slick pass. Sunil slammed it home, the score was now 4-2. And the pressure paid off with Raghunath converting a penalty corner a minute later to reduce the deficit to one goal. Malaysia forward Azammi Adabi scored for Malaysia in the 68th minute to confirm Malaysia’s victory in the game and give them a consolation three points.
This is the second edition of this trophy. India have won the first edition of this trophy, having defeated Pakistan 4-2 via a penalty shootout in China last year after both sides were locked with scoring at the end of the game.