Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: Malaysia ride on late equaliser to hold India 2-2 amid controversy
The India-Malaysia match in the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Hockey tournament may have been of academic interest for the hosts as they were already assured of a final berth but the Blueshirts had plenty to play for – they stood a chance of featuring in the bronze medal play-off tie if they overcame their opponents.
In the end, India were undone by a late Faizal Saari goal via penalty stroke which saw the match tied 2-2. The final minute goal deprived India of featuring in the bronze medal play-off. They would now play Pakistan in the 5-6 place play-off match on Sunday.
Malaysia hit the right noises early on and forced their first penalty corner in the 6th minute.
India regrouped well after the early setback and started to control the midfield with a nice bout of passing play. India earned their opening short corner but Rupinder Pal Singh’s drag-flick was saved on the goal-line by Malaysian shot stopper Subramanium Kumar.
Malaysia looked promising in the 17th minute when Faizal Saari made a fine solo run down the right flank but was timely dispossessed by Harbir Singh.
India scripted the equalizer in the 20th minute when Mandeep Singh produced a fine one-handed tap-in, making the most of a brilliant move orchestrated by Amit Rohildas.
India attacked more with purpose after restoring parity.
Mandeep Singh was a livewire upfront and so were Malak Singh, Gurmail Singh and Satbir Singh. In fact, the burst of speed of the quartet unsettled the Malaysians, who started committed unforced errors.
Indian defence showed much improvement in the latter stages of the first half. Rupinder Pal Singh stood like a rock of Gibraltar in the backline.
India had a great opportunity to go ahead in the 25th minute when captain Danish Mujtaba was well set up by Akashdeep Singh. Mujtaba’s flick was superbly saved by Subramanium Kumar.
Both teams were locked 1-1 at half-time.
India pulled ahead in the second stanza when they profited from their second penalty corner in the 48th minute. Rupinder Pal Singh converted the set-piece, unleashing a drag-flick that went towards the left of the Malaysian goal-tender.
Malaysia tried to bounced back but kept at bay by India.
India were reduced to ten men in the 57th minute when Gurjinder Singh was yellow-carded for a nasty challenge on a Malaysian player.
India could have enhanced the lead in the 60th minute when Danish Mujtaba sprinted down the right and set up Chinglensana Singh but the Manipuri lad failed to deflect home.
India got their second marching orders five minutes from the final hooter when skipper Danish Mujtaba was green-carded for a challenge on a Malaysian player.
Danish Mujtaba returned to the pitch and nearly scored of a nifty Dharamvir Singh pass but for a solid save by the Malaysian goalkeeper.
Malaysia forced a short corner in the 68th minute which resulted in a penalty stroke amid strong protests from the Indians. Indians strongly protested that Manpreet Singh’s goal-line save was fair and did not deserve a penalty stroke.
Faizal Saari converted from the dreaded spot to make it 2-2.
With this result, India have finished last in the group with 4 points and will play Pakistan next, who finished second from bottom with 5 points, for the 5th/6th position playoff on Sunday.