The Speedy Tigers finished third at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 after winning the bronze medal match 4-2 against Ireland. This result means a lot to the Malaysian team as they have never won a Champions Challenge medal before. The host nation won today’s match thanks to two late strikes from team-captain Azlan Misron and Firhan Ashari.
The match started with high intensity from both sides. Malaysia’s first attack led to a penalty stroke which was converted by Ahmad Nasruddin (7’) to give the Speedy Tigers the lead. This spurred Ireland on, but although they had more ball possession they struggled to break down a well-organised defence.
The second ball came out of the blue when Muhammad Baharom (11’) converted a counter-attack to double the lead, much to the delight of the noisy crowd in the Stadium Wisma Belia.
The Green Machine created a few promising opportunities to get on the scoresheet but could not finish when Stephen Dowds (14’) penalty corner flick was saved and Maurice Elliott’s pass did not find Alan Sothern (18’) in the circle.
However, the Irish team kept on pushing with Phillip Brown forcing their third penalty corner at the beginning of the second quarter. Paul Gleghorne (22’) managed to deflect the ball past the strong Malaysian keeper S. Kumar. Ireland remained the dominant side throughout the second quarter and continued on their quest for an equaliser.
The effort paid off in the third quarter when Chris Cargo (43’) slotted the ball in from close range. The rest of the third quarter saw two equal teams playing as hard as they could to avoid defeat.
Tonight’s atmosphere was fabulous with the fans singing throughout the whole match. Malaysia were the slightly better side in the fourth quarter pushing for another goal. This eventually came after a penalty corner. The Irish keeper David Harte deflected the ball over the baseline, Malaysia were quick to bring it back into action, team-captain Azlan Mishron (66’) picked it up and scored with four minutes remaining.
The 4-2 was a classic counter-attack goal which came when Ireland were pushing for the equaliser. Firhan Ashari (70’) scored in the last seconds of the match securing his team the bronze medal.