IPOH – Malaysia wasted an opportunity to take all three points in the opening game of the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey championship against Japan tonight, with a 1-1 draw.
Malaysia started aggressively, to the delight of 3,000 fans at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium here, and scored the first goal through a penalty corner converted by Razie Rahim in the eighth minute.
However, Stephen Van Huizen’s men seemed to have become complacent after the goal, making many simple mistakes in the process.
Japan, ranked 16th in the world, capitalised on the national squad’s weak display, getting the equaliser in the 40th minute through Shota Yamada from a penalty corner.
Malaysia tried to double their effort in the final minutes of the game, however, the score remained 1-1 till the final whistle.
Van Huizen, during the press conference after the game, said tomorrow’s match against Australia would be more difficult as all of today’s matches ended in draws.
“All the teams ended up with a point each today, so I expect Australia to go all out to get three points in tomorrow’s match to qualify for the finals,” he said.
Meanwhile, Japan’s coach Takahino Yamabori said he was disappointed the team only managed to take a point from the match.
“Many opportunities to add goals went begging, but as the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, it was an acceptable result,” he said.
India vs New Zealand – 4.05pm
Jepun vs Great Britain – 6.05pm
Australia vs Malaysia – 8.35pm