AG2018: It is Malaysia-Japan final in men’s hockey

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Pemain India, Manpreet (kiri) dibayangi pemain Malaysia, Meor saat melepaskan tembakan kearah gawang Malaysia dalam pertandingan babak Semifinal Hoki Putra Asian Games 2018 di Lapangan Hoki, Komplek Gelora Bung Karno, Jakarta, Kamis (30/8). ANTARA FOTO/INASGOC/Dhoni Setiawan/pras/18.


# Malaysia one match away from qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
# Malaysia stun defending champions India in a penalty shootout
# Japan stun Pakistan 1-0 to reach the final
Malaysia is one step away from booking an automatic berth to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a stunning upset over defending champions India in the men’s hockey semi-finals at the Gelora Bung Karno Hockey Stadium in Jakarta on Thursday.
At the same venue, Japan also pulled off a stunning upset with a 1-0 win over Pakistan in the other semi-final with Shota Hamada’s 17th-minute drag-flick goal making the difference. It will be Japan’s first ever final in the Asian Games men’s hockey.
Both Malaysia and Japan will write a new chapter in the Asian Games hockey as neither of the two teams has won the gold medal.
The Malaysia-India encounter was a nail-biting affair with Malaysia’s barely surviving exit with a late equalizer by veteran Razie Rahim of a penalty corner two minutes before the buzzer.
India thought they had a foot in the final after taking a 1-0 lead through Harmanpreet Singh with a powerful drag flick off a penalty corner on 32 minutes.
Malaysia was quick to hit back and drew level five minutes later through Faisal Saari from a field attempt. India, however, was also quick to regain the lead with Varun Kumar on target from a penalty corner.
Then came the cracker from Razie to send the match into the shootout. It was 2-2 in the first shootout with Firahn Ashaari and Fitri Saari making it count for Malaysia while Akashdeep and Harmanpreet for India.
In the second shootout Malaysia’s Firhan, Fitri, Meor Mohamed Hassan, Faizal Saari and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin getting their names into the scoresheet. India’s scorers were Harmanpreet, Akashdeep, Manpreet, and Dilpreet while Sunil Somapreet fumbled his attempt.
“Either we gave Malaysia too much respect or not enough respect,” said a disappointed India coach Harendra Singh of his team’s shock defeat.
His Malaysian counterpart Stephen van Huizen was more than delight with his team’s win and said: “The players showed hunger and desire to win and this took us through”.
Without a doubt, the hero for Malaysia was veteran goalkeeper S. Kumar who made crucial saves in the shootout. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH 
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