JOHOR BARU, Oct 19 — Malaysia’s desire to finish on the podium was achieved after defeating Japan 3-2 in the third place classifications of the 2019 Under-21 Sultan of Johor Cup (SOJC) international hockey tournament held at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here, today.
The national youth hockey team opened scoring in the 14th minutes through Mohamad Akhimullah Anuar Esook’s field goal and was followed by Adam Aiman Mamat four minutes later.
However, Japan narrowed the gap when Riku Tamura converted a penalty corner in the 23rd minute.
After the breather, Muhammad Syafiq Hassan sounded the box through his field goal in the 37th minute to put the national junior squad ahead once again.
Japan did not give up and continued to give great pressure to Malaysia when Keigo Tamura converted a penalty corner in the 57th minute.
Malaysia’s victory thus improved Nur Saiful Zaini Nasiruddin’s side performance from last year’s record after finishing in fifth place.
Despite satisfied with the players’ performance in today’s match, Nur Saiful Zaini noted that his team needed to be given plenty of exposure in international tournaments to learn the game play of other teams.
“I’m happy with their performance today, but there are two things that we need to improve on. Firstly, we missed out on many opportunities that we had as we needed to score.
“We also had to know the position of the opponent to chase and mark, but we did not have the speed to close their position. We needed to increase the fitness level and change our game play,” he told reporters in a press conference after the match.
The last time Malaysia won the championship was in 2011. — Bernama