Malaysia earned three points to go top of the table after a thrilling 4-3 win over Japan in their second match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh last night.
The hosts almost squandered their win after conceding two late goals as they were 4-1 up. This continues Malaysia’s unbeaten run over Japan since the 1973 World Cup in Netherlands.
Malaysia opened the scoring as early as the second minute through captain Razie Rahim. The Kuala Lumpur player placed the ball past the Japanese goalkeeper from a penalty corner. However, the home side held their lead only for a minute before Japan captain Hiroki Sakamoto executed a brilliant penalty corner of their own to score the equalizer.
On the 11th minute, another penalty corner saw Razie Rahim regain his team’s lead after his powerful shot slammed the board in the goalpost. He was offered the time and space to perfectly place the ball past the goalkeeper. Three minutes later, Razie Rahim stepped up to take a shot from yet another penalty corner but his shot was saved by Takashi Yoshikawa. Unfortunately for him, the ball rebounded and Haziq Shamsul pounced on the rebound.
In the third quarter, Fitri Saari scored through a penalty stroke to extend their lead after Izad Jamaluddin’s deflection hit Seren Tanaka in the head. Malaysia’s lack of concentration saw Japan score two goals in five minutes but could not add another due to the lack of time.
In the earlier games, Australia won India 5-1 whereas New Zealand drew 1-1 with Canada.
Malaysia face World No. 1 Australia on Saturday at 8.35pm.
Here are the highlights from yesterday’s match: