KUANTAN (27 APRIL 2014): Malaysia suffered a 3-1 defeat against Korea in the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium.
National coach K. Dharmaraj once again placed his faith on the experience of forwards Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Ismail Abu, Faizal Shaari and Ahmad Kazamirul for the goals, leaving the German-based Kevin Lim and team captain Azlan Misron to marshal the back line.
The hosts got off to a rousing start in front of 3,000 fans and earned the first penalty corner on 11 minutes of play but Ahmad Kazamirul blew it away by firing over the top, much to chagrin of the Malaysian bench and fans as well who were expecting the hosts to bounce back after a lacklustre performance against France which saw them going down 2-3 on Saturday.
The Koreans, who last played Malaysia to a 2-2 draw in the Azlan Shah Cup in March and join the hostS nation and New Zealand in next month’s World Cup, got their act together as fast as they lost it earlier by claiming the opening goal in a 19th minute penalty corner effort.
Hyun Nam Woo, a 22-year-old with 127 international caps under his belt, placed a low shot past goalkeeper S. Kumar from a goalmouth melee much to the joy of the small band of Korean fans at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium.
Malaysia mounted numerous raids after this early setback, piled the pressure on the Koreans through quick waves from both sides and earned three more penalty corners in the process which came to a nought. The first half ended in Korea’s favour 1-0.
The Koreans, however, were far from finished and went on to trigger more seismic shocks after the interval, earning five more penalty corners in the process against Malaysia’s four.
Just two minutes after the interval, ace forward Hyo Sik You picked a well calculated pass from Hye Sung Hyun inside the semicircle and with just Kumar to beat, shot home to go 2-0 up. They rattled the Malaysians further with another goal off a penalty corner in the 50th minute, this time Jong Hyun Jang made no mistake as the Koreans held a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Malaysia’s consolation goal came from Ismail after much pressure in the 69th minute from a field goal but it was simply too late to salvage a bruised pride. Perhaps Lady Luck had deserted them just when it was needed most.
It was another day of trouble and Dharmaraj’s boys must now keep the Canadians at bay on Tuesday before wrapping up their Group B fixtures going into the quarterfinals.