Malaysia came up with a brave performance to put India out of the podium finish at the Hockey World League Semi Final with a 3-2 win here on Thursday. It was a double goal by Razie Rahim (19’ and 48’), Tengku Tajuddin (20’) that helped Malaysia win a semifinal berth and also qualify for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. Though India were tipped as favourites to win, a stubborn Malaysian outfit kept India in the hunt the right from the beginning. While successful circle penetrations were not easy to come by for India, Malaysia surprised them with two goals in the first five minutes of the second quarter that dented India’s start.
It was Razie Rahim who scored Malaysia’s first goal through a PC in the 19th minute flicking the ball to the right corner of the post. Tengku Tajuddin doubled Malaysia’s lead in the 20th minute with another splendid PC, choosing to fire the ball to the top corner giving no chance for Vikas Dahiya to stop it.
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India however shook off the starting jitters with a better performance in the later part of the second quarter. They made better attempts on goal but India’s breakthrough came in the 24th minute when a well-thought through pass by midfielder Sumit set up the goal for forward Ramandeep Singh who stepped in front of Malaysian defender to nick the ball into the post. This spectacular goal narrowed India’s gap to 1-2.
Almost immediately Ramandeep Singh doubled his score in the 26th minute when he picked up a rebound off Chinglensana Singh’s shot on goal to fire the ball past Malaysian keeper Kumar Subramiam.
It was originally a PC attempt when Harmanpreet Singh tried a variation where he pushed the ball to Manpreet Singh but India skipper could not make a strong connect. The ball was then picked up by Chinglensana and improvised by Ramandeep to ensure India levelled the score.
With the score board reading 2-2 at half-time, the third quarter began with India trying to keep up their momentum. Midfielder Sardar Singh helped India win a PC in the 35th minute, but the opportunity to take the lead when amiss with Harmanpreet Singh’s flick being well-defended.
With a little less than two minutes to go for the third hooter, Manpreet set up forward Talwinder Singh for what could have been a brilliant goal. However, Talwinder’s strike was slightly wide with Mandeep having little chance to deflect the ball into the post.
With no goals scored in the third quarter, the final 15 minutes kept the spectators at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Stadium on the edge of their seats. Malaysia won a PC when Najmi Jazlan found defender Surender Kumar’s foot in the circle.
But Razie Rahim’s flick was blocked away by India’s first runner with the umpire awarding another PC to Malaysia. India were unfortunate to lose their referral with Manpreet suggesting that the ball struck his hand and not his feet.
Rahim was ruthless with his dragflick pumping the ball behind India keeper Akash Chikte to take a 3-2 lead in the 48th minute. Malaysia keeper Subramiam came up with a brilliant save to deny Akashdeep Singh when he was set up by Chinglensana for a goal.
It didn’t help India’s cause with Malaysia winning another PC in the 57th minute but Razie Rahim’s flick went far wide. Another chance went amiss for India when Ramandeep’s deflection going wide of the post ending the match in Malaysia’s favour.