KUALA LUMPUR: The national women’s hockey squad just increased their chances of making it to the classification match for 3rd place in the Asia Champions Trophy after they managed to pull off a shock 3-2 win over Japan in the third match in Donghae, South Korea earlier today.
The victory is a welcome boost for coach K. Dharmaraj’s charges after succumbing to two successive defeats in the first two matches against South Korea and China. In the previous edition in Singapore two years ago, the Malaysian Tigresses also defeated the Japanese 2-0.
"It is definitely satisfying to register a win against a team who ranked No 12 in the world.
"Praise should be given to each player because they showed a strong fighting spirit.
"An improved performance was clearly evident since the first match itself, but this time round we managed to achieve a very meaningful victory,” said Dharmaraj.
The Malaysian Tigresses did not have to wait long to go ahead when forward Nur Zafirah Aziz managed to score a goal as early as the first minute through a field goal which was the result of a blunder by the Japanese goalkeeper.
However the lead did not last long as Ishibashi Yui levelled the score in the 9th minute.
Fatin Shafika Shukri then put Malaysia back in front after scoring via a penalty corner in the 21st minute before Nuraslinda Said added a third field goal in the 30th minute.
Japan refused to go down without a fight and they reduced the deficit in the 34th minute through Shimizu Minami.
The Japanese continued to put pressure on the Malaysian lasses but national goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya was in top form as she kept the opponents at bay and prevented them from adding to the scoreline.
Malaysia will be in action for their final round robin match against India tomorrow (Thursday).
"India will definitely be very tough opponents but we are on a mission to win and make the classification match for 3rd place,” stressed Dharmaraj.
Asia Champions Trophy
Tomorrow (May 17)
Malaysia v India, 1.30pm
South Korea v China, 3.30pm
(Venue: Sunrise Stadium)