The recently-concluded 9th Asia Cup Men’s Hockey Tournament 2013 was a bonus for hockey fans who earlier this year witnessed another international-class competition, the Sultan Azlan Shah Tournament, also held at Stadium Azlan Shah, Ipoh.
Unfortunately, Malaysia, who came “prepared” for this prestigious tournament, failed to even secure a bronze losing 3-1 to Pakistan in the third and fourth placing match.
Korea emerged as the 9th Asia Cup champion when they beat India 4-3 in a thrilling final held on Sunday, September 1.
It was a well fought defensive start until Korea netted their first goal from a penalty corner in the 28th minute. This was followed with a field goal a minute later giving the Koreans the lead at end of the first half.
The second half saw India scoring in the 48th minute and equalising six minutes later.
Korea led again in the 57th minute but India drew level once more in the 65th. However, Korea’s 68th minute penalty corner sealed the match for good.
Unlike the Korea-India final, the tussle for 3rd and 4th placings between Malaysia and Pakistan was lacklustre. The home team was roundly beaten by the former Asian hockey giant.
Malaysia did play strongly but failed to optimize many goal-scoring chances. This led the Malaysian Hockey Confederation President, Tengku Abdullah to comment that the team’s penalty-corner conversions and finishing were poor.
National Coach Paul Revington too was equally disappointed with his players’ performance. “They played brilliant and rubbish all in one game,” he lamented.
However, the greatest disappointment was felt by the many Malaysian fans who had wanted to see Malaysia on the winners’ podium on the final night.
Nevertheless, Malaysia has qualified for a slot in next year’s Hockey World Cup 2014 to be held in the Hague, Netherlands from May 31 till June 15.
This is by virtue of Malaysia, being the third reserve for the slot, moving up the ladder when Continental champion, Argentina (from the Pan American Cup) then Spain (through Germany’s success in the Euro Hockey Cup) and finally, Malaysia, becoming the team to benefit from Korea’s Asia Cup victory.
Malaysia’s fortune could change in the World Cup. Tunku Abdullah was not convinced. “The players have to buck up if they want a good showing at the Hague.” His statement echoes the sentiments of hockey fans throughout the country.