With minutes left on the clock, Faizal Saari converted a penalty corner to hold South Korea to a 2-2 draw, keeping alive their chance of a place in the final on Sunday. It was a fair result in the end to a very hard-fought game by both teams, especially Malaysia who came from a two-goal deficit during half time.
Taking on South Korea in the 23rd edition of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup ast evening, Malaysia faced a huge challenge. The two sides know each other well having played together numerous times. Moreover, Paul Lissek, the head coach at Korean Hockey Association, had previously coached the Malaysian team.
Malaysia started strongly and applied the early pressure creating one good chance in the first few minutes. Korea weathered the storm. They used the width of the field very well and kept our boys running hard for little reward. When Malaysia had possession deep in the Korean half, the yellow and black looked dangerous, especially around the D.
Unfortunately, Korea struck first with an early goal in the 10th minute via Oh Dae Keun. Late in the first half, Korea scored again, also by the same player. A free hit awarded outside the 23 metre line was fired into the D and deflected past the keeper to double their lead to 2-0. The Malaysians ran hard to make several more chances but to no avail.
The second half was almost a carbon copy of the first, only this time it was Malaysia doing all of the attacking whilst Korea seemed withered. Malaysia’s Helmi Jali defended like a man possessed in the second half making several incredible diving tackles to blunt the Korean attack.
The local lads spread the ball wide and had good success down the right hand side. It was however a cross from the left that found a foot in the D and created a penalty corner. Shahril Saabah converted to the delight of fans. With spirits lifted, from then on it was Malaysia all the way.
Rookie goalkeeper Muhammad Hafizuddin Othman was named the Man of the Match.