JUNIOR ASIA CUP: Malaysia one match away from creating history
MALAYSIA played total attacking hockey to beat India 2-0 and keep alive their golden target in the Junior Asia Cup at the MBM Stadium in Malacca yesterday.
The hosts' win dashed India's dream of a hat-trick of titles, but ignited a fire which might just land Malaysia their first Junior Asia Cup title.
Malaysia will play Pakistan on Sunday, while South Korea and India will battle for the bronze.
In the second semi-finals, Pakistan beat South Korea 6-1.
The tournament, incepted in 1987, saw Malaysia in the final only once -- in 1992 -- while it was failure at the semi-final stage in 1987, 2000 and 2004.
"It was indeed a super show from my boys as they played non-stop hockey for 70 minutes. The title is within our reach now, and I believe in my players ability to deliver the gold in Malacca," said Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj.
Faizal Saari, who played in the Dublin Olympic Qualifier, drew first blood for Malaysia from a second penalty corner in the 40th minute when he sent the ball to the roof and sent the 4,500-odd fans into wild celebrations.
And there were more misses, as sitters went a begging, but Syamim Yusof put the Indians to bed with a diving attempt after Faizal's pass rolled towards him despite an uneven pitch in the 65th minute.
Team manager Mirnawan Nawawi said: "I was quite surprised to see India playing a defensive game. They soaked up the pressure and only counter attacked from both the flanks for 35 minutes.
"And my players were not sharp enough to score in the first half even though we had five chances. However, in the dressing room, we told them to take a step back and enjoy the game and don't be in a hurry when in the semi-circle.
"That's what won us the match and now we are just a step away from the second target in this tournament."
RESULTS -- Semi-finals: Malaysia 2 India 0, Pakistan 6 South Korea 1.
SUNDAY -- Final: Malaysia v Pakistan (8pm); Third-Fourth: South Korea v India (5pm).