By Anne Das
History was created when Malaysia won 3-2 at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup for the first time after 29 editions at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium, Ipoh, last night.
The crowd erupted in joy after the final buzzer and sadly they invaded the pitch in their joy, which should have never happened with better security.
Nevertheless, it was a historical win and the crowd was overwhelmed by the occasion. Still, there was no excuse as it endangered both the teams on the field.
Shello Silverius gave Malaysia a much-needed boost when coming from the blind side, from the right to connect a long hit from the left by Muhammad Hassan to beat Korean goalkeeper Kim Jaehyeon in the 14th minute to give a 1-0 lead.
But the lead was short lived as Jang Jonghyun equalised in his second attempt of two consecutive penalty corners in the 16th minute.
National hockey coach A. Arul Selvaraj explained “I did not talk team tactics to the players at halftime but took them to task for not playing to their best ability. I reminded them of the fans out there and they cannot let them down.
“And having done so well to reach the final despite key players missing and several players playing with injuries. I asked them if they want to let the fans and themselves down?
“I also told them to get back onto the field and believe in themselves and deliver what they are capable of.
“And they responded positively and we got the results.
“It was a team effort and everyone carried out their duties and the results were achieved.
“But this is just the beginning. We still have a long way to go and must continue the hard work.
Razie Rahim penalty flick goal seconds before the end of the third quarter saw Malaysia take the lead 2-1.
On resumption of the final quarter, Malaysia stepped up their performance to score their third goal of Muhamad Aminuddin Mohd Zin’s field goal.
But the Koreans with their never-say-die attitude reduced the deficit with a penalty corner goal off Jeon Byungjin.
Malaysia stayed focused to keep the slim lead and win the match and seize the title.
Players like goalkeeper captain Najmi Jazlan, Hafizuddin, Razie and Shello who were depended on to play key roles indeed lived up to their expectations.
Korea on the other hand was obviously disappointed that they failed to defend the title they won in 2019 when the last tournament was held before the Covid-19 pandemic.
National hockey coach A. Arul Selvaraj said he is now looking forward to seeing the team improve further in the Nations Cup from Nov 28-Dec 4 in Potchefstroom, South Africa.
“What was seen is just a tip of the iceberg of what the team is capable of and to what extent they will go to achieve their target.”
After the Nation Cup, Malaysia will be competing in the World Cup from January 13-29th 2023 in India before the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
Winning the Asian Games in Hangzhou will book the Olympic ticket and failing which will mean Malaysia will have another chance in January 2024 in the Olympic qualifier, where 16 teams will be involved and the top three in each Group qualify.
His Royal Highness Paduka Seri Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Al- Marghfur-Lah presented Malaysia the Cup named after his late father, to the Malaysian team in the presence of Datuk Mohammad Tayyab Ikram, the President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH)
ROLL OF HONOUR
Man of the Match: Razie Rahim (Malaysia)
Best Goalkeeper: Hadizuddin Othman (Malaysia)
Top Scorer: Razie Rahim (Malaysia) – 6 goals
Best Player: Shello Silverius (Malaysia)
Fair-play (Raja Ashman Shah) Trophy: Japan
2nd Runners-up: Pakistan
1st Runner-up: Korea