Malaysia qualified for their first final in the Junior Asia Cup since 1992 when they defeated India 2-0 in the semi final at the MBMB Stadium in Malacca, Malaysia.
They had failed to get past the last four stage thrice – in 1987, 2000 and 2004. And they will surely fancy their chances in the final where they will face either Pakistan or South Korea.
Though Malaysia won, their display was nothing to shout about as they were guilty of over-dribbling.
Still credit goes to coach K. Dharmaraj for leading his players into the final, a fitting result for his dedication and planning.
It was a rather pensive start as both team opted to play it safe in the opening minutes, akin to boxers have a fell at each other, with neither throwing a punch.
As the game progressed, it was obvious that India wanted to slow down the tempo as to break the rhythm of the Malaysian side.
The first real opening fell to Firhan Ashaari who sent his shot wide despite being just seven meters from the Indian goal in the 7th minute.
And in the 9th minute Faisal Saari fumbled when up against the last Indian defender, holding on to the ball instead of challenging the defence. The tale of misses continued as Azri Hassan missed a reverse stick shot barely seconds later.
India nearly capitalized on a rare defensive error by Malaysian skipper Mohd Noor Faeez Ibrahim in the 11th minute as he miss-trapped a high flick and the ball fell to Antil Naveen who in turn slipped, much to the fans delight.
Malaysia were awarded a penalty corner in the 16th minute but made a hash of it as they failed to stop cleanly. The Indian counter was swift and Sukhdev Singh’s deflection was neatly smothered by Malaysian keeper Hazrul Faiz Ahmad Sobri.
Amit Rohidass came close for India in the 22nd minute as his attempt from India’s first penalty corner went just inches wide of the Malaysian goal.
India came close again in the 28th minute as Satbir Singh broke through on the right but Malak Singh failed to connect from three feet infront of the Malaysian goal.
Malaysia were the early aggressors in the second half and they were duly rewarded in the 40th minute when umpire Mike Gerwig awarded a penalty corner for a foul on Firhan.
Up stepped Faisal Saari who sent his drag flick high into the roof of the Indian goal to send the 4,500 odd fans into frenzy. Malaysia led 1-0.
India started showing urgency, dropping their defensive stand as they attacked seeking the equalizer. With skipper Akashdeep Singh gaining control in midfield and setting up forwards with penetrative passes, only sound defending by Faez and Faiz Helmi kept the marauding Indians at bay.
Akashdeep had the best chance 15 minutes from time but hesitated in taking the shot despite in a good scoring position.
India were awarded a second penalty corner in the 59th minute but Amit’s flick was palmed away by Hazrul Faiz but resulted in a follow on penalty corner.
Amit opted to send a low flick off the next penalty corner but once again Hazrul read correctly as the ball fell to Malak who shot wide with keeper on the ground.
Malaysia won a penalty corner in the 62nd minute but this time Faeez’s flick was deflected out for a free hit.
But Mohd Syamim Mohd Yusof put the issue beyond doubt as he netted the second goal in the 65th minute off a goalmouth melee to send Malaysia into Sunday’s final.
Pakistan will play Malaysia in the final of the 7th Junior Asia Cup after they defeated South Korea 6-1 in the second semi final played at the MBMB Stadium tonight.
It will be a repeat of the 1992 final, incidentally also on Malaysian soil, when Pakistan ran out winners in the tournament that was played in Ipoh.
Pakistan raced to a 3-0 lead in the first 15 minutes with Mohammad Dilber notching a hattrick as he found the mark in the 11th, 13th and 15th minutes.
With such a comfortable lead, Pakistan showed no urgency in the second half and allowed Korea to reduce the deficit in the 47th minute via Im Seung Ho.
However Pakistan went on to score another three goals, through Dilber ( 59th minute), Muhamad Suleman ( 61t minute) and Mohammad Tousiq ( 64th minute) to seal their place in the final.