Malaysia’s Speedy Tigers Crowned Runner-Up in Asian Champions Trophy 2023
BY: Michelle Liew
The men’s national hockey squad managed to claim runner-up at the Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) 2023 it ended the final round 3-4 against India at the Mayor Radhakrishan Stadium, Chennai yesterday.
While some may view the defeat as tough luck but there are many that also view this as a fitting chance for the team to improve their performance for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, next month.
India, ranked fourth in the world, first opened the scoring through a penalty corner shot by Jugraj Singh in the ninth minute.
That position did not last long as the Speedy Tigers, world No.9, bounced back with three goals to take India into the lead in the first half.
The three goals of the squad coached by A. Arul Selvaraj were scored by Muhammad Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal (m-14), Muhammad Razie Abd. Rahim (m-18) and Muhamad Aminuddin Mohd. Zain in the 28th minute.
India's comeback began at the end of the third quarter when they scored two goals in less than a minute to level the score at 3-3 through Harmanpreet Singh and Gurjant Singh.
A mistake made by midfielder Meor Muhamad Azuan Hasan was fully exploited by Akashdeep Singh to punish the national team with India's winning goal in the 56th minute.
Despite failing to win the championship, credit must be given to the players and coaching staff for making new history by advancing to the ACT finals for the first time in history since it was organized in 2011.
The players should not be disappointed, instead redoubled their efforts to make up for the defeat by winning the gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games, thereby automatically qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
If successful, it will end the 24-year wait for the national squad that last made an appearance on the Olympic stage during the 2000 edition in Sydney, Australia.