Heartbreak for Malaysia as Japan take gold

Japan won their first ever gold medal in men’s Hockey when they defeated Malaysia 3-1 in a shoot out after the match ended 6-6 in regulation time at the GBK Hockey Stadium in Jakarta.

More importantly it gave Japan a place by merit in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics ,although they were automatic qualifiers by virtue of being hosts.

Malaysia have only themselves to blame as the held a 5-2 lead at one stage and 6-5 with 20 seconds remaining.

But their dream of making a first olympic appearance since Sydney 2000 went up in smoke.

“ What can I say, I am very proud of my players. They achieved what was deemed the impossible and they will cherish this gold medal for the rest of their lives,” said a joyful Japan coach

Siegfried Aikman.

“ Their never give up attitude is what saw us triumph ,

“ This is such a great event for hockey in Japan as the women too won the gold.”

In the shootout, the Japanese scorers were Koji Yamasaki, Kento Tanaka and Kazuma Murata.

Those who missed for Japan were Seren Tanaka and Hiromasa Ochihai.

Malaysia got their solitary goal through Firhan Ashaari while the likes of Faisal Saari, Meor Mohammad Azuan and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tg Jalil.

While Malaysia’s best finish prior to today was a silver in the 2010 Asiad, Japan had not finished amongst the medalists in their Asian Games participation.

Not only was an olympic ticket on the cards but also bragging rights as Asian Champion.

The match got off to a blistering start as both teams

Malaysia opened scoring in the 4th minute through Razie Rahim whose blistering drag flick gave Japanese keeper Yusuke Takano no chance whatsoever.

Japan won their first penalty corner in the 7th minute but keeper S. Kumar was equal to it to deny Japan.

But Japan found the breakthrough in the

8th minute as Serene Tanaka slotted home to put Japan on level terms.

Malaysia were on fire and they took the lead once again through Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tg Jalil in the 10th minute.

And a minute later, Tengku Ahmad was on target yet again to put Malaysia 3-1 ahead

Faisal Saari further extended the Malaysian lead, scoring from a penalty corner in the 17th minute.

Japan were stunned and threw caution into the wind and were duly rewarded with a second goal in the 23rd minute through Kenta Tanaka.

The Malaysian game was in a disarray and Japan nearly scored a third but Kumar denied Shota Yamada’s attempt from a penalty corner seconds before the end of the second quarter.

At halftime Malaysia led 4-2.

It was all Japan in the sel third quarter as they had the Malaysian defence under tremendous pressure.

But Japan lacked the finesse to unlock a stubborn defence where Razie and Kumar were solid in defence.

The normally reliable Morata was off colour and that stunted the Japanese attacking ability.

Malaysia forced two penalty corners against the run of play in the fourth quarter but could not make them count

Amirol Aideed Arshad took some pressure off the team with a delightful deflection goal in the 50th minute.

Japan fought back and narrowed the deficit to 5-3 with Kentaro Fukuda scoring in the 52nd minute.

And a minute later the deficit was just one goal with Kenta Tanaka converting a penalty corner to make it 5-4.

Koji Yamasuka made it 5-5 in the 57th minute.

Malaysia thought they had won it when Tengku Ahmad deflected in a penalty corner in the 59th minute.

But 13 seconds from the hooter, Japan scored the equaliser through Hiromasa Ochihai to take the match into a shoot out.

And Malaysia failed at the shootout to hand the gold medal to Japan.