Malaysia battled hard, coming from behind twice, to earn a 3-2 win over Chile at the Birsa Munda International Stadium here to keep their hopes of a quarterfinal berth from Pool C in the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup here today.
Norsyafiq Sumantri emerged the hero after grabbing the winner via a 41st minute penalty corner to give Malaysia a crucial victory over the South Americans.
A cautious start from both ends saw the first quarter ending scoreless, then a couple of exchanges in attack at the start of the second quarter saw Chile take the lead via a Juan Amoroso penalty corner conversion in the 19th minute. Malaysia missed a penalty corner of their own just minutes earlier.
As much as a surprise as it was for Malaysia, their forays forward were disappointing as they were unable to break the Chilean defense. It was left to Razi Rahim to secure the equaliser after Malaysia were awarded a penalty stroke in the 25th minute.
The Chileans continued to look the more likely to score against Malaysia and on the stroke of half-time, Martin Rodriguez latched on to a long pass to strike it past goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman in the 29th minute.
Malaysia was under severe pressure, but coach Arul Selvaraj’s half-time talk must have done the trick as they came out in the third quarter looking tidier in defence and more purposeful in attack.
The Malaysians earned nine penalty corners without a goal to show, but an attempt forward in the 40th minute saw Mohamad Ashran Hamsani hit home for the equaliser.
Malaysia kept up the pressure from the restart and were rewarded with another penalty corner in the 41st minute. With Razie’s strike initially blocked, Norsyafiq hammered the rebound to give Malaysia the lead for the first time in the match.
Norsyafiq’s strike proved to be the winning goal. Chile were relentless and came at the Malaysians who absorbed attack after attack to end the fourth quarter unscathed and more importantly with the valuable three points in the bag.
The win was Malaysia’s first after going down to the Netherlands in their opening match. New Zealand went down 4-0 to the Netherlands in a later match and are tied with Malaysia on three points each in Pool C.
Malaysia, however, are third on goal difference.
Arul said after the match that it was a valuable win for the team, which meant they were still in the running for a quarterfinals spot. “It is an important win for us. The team displayed the desire to fight and we came back twice to secure the win. They also showed discipline in defence and overall determination,” said Arul.
“Of course, the missed penalty corners are an issue that we have to address. We will review the match and see where we need to improve in terms of tactics ahead of the final group match against New Zealand on Wednesday,” he added.