Malaysia had never defeated Pakistan at the Asia Cup; eight defeats and one draw.
The opening minutes of the opening match of the Super Four stage of the 10th Hockey Asia Cup at Dhaka’s Maulana Bhashani Stadium, suggested the same.
In the very first minute, a wonderful one touch move involving three men culminated in Umar Bhutta getting the ball unmarked in the middle of the circle. He sounded the board with a reverse hander.
In the third minute, Pakistan had a penalty corner but Abubakr’s push missed the left post by a good margin.
It seemed Pakistan would run over the opposition but the Malaysians were able to find their stride.
After a couple of their attacks had been thwarted, a PC came the Malaysian way. Experienced Razi Rahim’s flat deceptive push found the right corner of the goal with Pakistani net minder Mazhar completely wrong footed.
Soon, Pakistan had a PC of their own but took a long time in execution and the ball was cleared.
Pakistan again managed an early goal in the second quarter. A defence splitting angular long ball from the left edge of the 23 metre area reached Abuzar Yaqoob in front of the far post, who made no mistake to restore Pakistan’s lead.
An injury to goal keeper Mazhar resulted in his being replaced by Amjad. Malaysia’s second PC went abegging as skipper Irfan had made a brilliant rush.
It got heated. First Pakistan’s Ali Shan was sun-binned for five minutes, immediately followed by Malaysian Syed Cholan’s suspension for two minutes. In the 25th minute, the scores was again level as a result of Rashid’s blunder. A Malaysian cross from left wasnt properly stopped by experienced Rashid in the circle. Shahril Saabah pounced on the rebound.
Both the sides had some good chances in the last five minutes of the first half but it remained 2-2.
Within four minutes of resumption, Malaysia went ahead for the first time courtesy a penalty stroke put in by Fitri Saari.
If Pakistan were a slightly better side in the first half, Malaysia had more of the exchanges in the second. Although both the sides had their moments but the 12th ranked Malaysians made a greater number of purposeful raids and created more chances than their 14th ranked opponents.
The two goal keepers were repeatedly called into action.
The match ended with a well deserved 3-2 win for the Malaysians, their first ever over Pakistan in the Asia Cup.
Pakistan: Umar Bhutta (1′) & Azfar Yaqoob (19′)
Malaysia: Razi Rahim (10′), Shahril Saabah (25) & Fitri Saari (34)
Pakistan next faces South Korea on Thursday