JUNIOR ASIA CUP: Malaysia finally land gold after 25 years
The Malaysian team created history when they beat Pakistan 2-1 for the Junior Asia Cup gold medal at the MBM Stadium in Malacca yesterday.
It was Malaysia's first gold in the tournament, which was incepted in 1987, and the Malacca crowd went wild after the final whistle by running onto the pitch despite the strong presence of the police.
"This is a very proud moment for Malaysian hockey as we finally won gold after 25 years in this tournament.
"Full credit to my players and the coaching as well as management staff. This journey started in 2009 and ended at the top of the podium today," said Malaysia coach K. Dharmaraj.
The MBM Stadium was already packed by 5pm, and by the time Malaysia entered the pitch three hours later, there was a carnival atmosphere.
About 7,000 fans circled the stadium, which was fully packed, while many stood on the hillocks around the area.
Faizal Saari did not disappoint the fans, as off the first minute attack, Malaysia won a penalty corner, and he duly converted with a sizzler which almost tore the netting.
That set the tempo for the match, and Pakistan were all but beaten by the 18th minute, when Syamim Yusof tapped in a cross which again sent the crowd into wild celebrations.
The only danger from Pakistan was in the 34th minute, when they won their only penalty corner, but Mohamed Tousiq blew it over the top.
However, the Malaysian side looked jaded in the second half as they kept making mistakes after mistakes, while Pakistan started to get more adventurous in their attack.
In the 42nd minute, a poor clearance saw Irfan Mohamed scoring from close range to reduce the deficit for Pakistan.
After that, Malaysia defended by the numbers while Pakistan took control of the match for long periods.
Malaysia had waited for this moment for 20 years, but the last 20 minutes of the match were agonising, as Pakistan went searching for the equaliser, and Malaysia were beaten at every turn except in goalkeeping.
With three minutes remaining, Syamim was kicked in his groin, and fell down like a sack of brick. The incident almost sparked a free-for-all, and Pakistan's Mohamed Khalid and Syamim were sent to the sin-bin for five minutes, and the match was over for both of them.
Malaysia then lost Izzat Sumantri to a yellow card, but even with nine-man, they still held on.
Meanwhile, India claimed the bronze in extra-time sudden death when their skipper Akashdeep Singh scored in the 79th minute, after the match ended 1-1 in regulation time.
RESULTS: Final: Malaysia 2 Pakistan 1; Third-Fourth: India 1 South Korea 1 (India win on sudden-death goal).