Thursday, October 16, 2014

4th Sultan of Johor Cup: India overwhelm Malaysia 4-2 to keep final hopes alive

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

The Indian junior men’s hockey team kept its hopes of reaching the final of the 4th Sultan of Johor Cup alive after they got the better of hosts Malaysia 4-2 at the Tamam Daya Stadium in Johor Bahru.

The Harendra Singh-coached Indians did exert pressure on the Malaysian defence and forced a slew of penalty corners, but they had to wait until the 25th minute to draw first blood. Harmanpreet Singh converted the team’s fourth penalty corner. Hardly had the Malaysians charted out their fightback plans, Harmanpreet struck again from the set-piece two minutes later.

India held on to the two goal lead at half-time.

The Malaysians regrouped splendidly and notched up two quick goals in the first seven minutes of second half. The match was thrown wide open, but Harmanpreet pulled India ahead rattling the cage in the 55th minute. India were better off in avoiding tense final moments and they precisely did that as Varun Kumar converted a penalty stroke in the 63rd minute to make the scoreline 4-2. The home side had seven minutes to draw the contest, but India held firm to close out a feisty 4-2 triumph.

India will now have to beat Australia in their final league tie on Saturday to harbor hopes of a final berth, where they may end up facing Great Britain or Australia. This was India’s second win over Malaysia in this event – in the 2013 edition final India beat them 3-0 in the final. They had drawn 3-3 in the league phase of the 2013 edition as well as playing out an identical  3-3 draw in the 2012 edition after having lost 1-5 in the inaugural 2011 edition.

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