Jakarta, August 30: Defending champions India crashed out of the Asian Games 2018 hockey competition in the semifinals, losing the penalties to Malaysia here on Thursday (August 30).
Malaysia beat India 7-6 in the semifinals after both the teams were tied 2-2 at the end of the regulation time. Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar scored the goals for India while Malaysia's Faisal Sari and Muhammad Abd Rahim were on target. In fact, Rahim scored just couple of minutes away from the hooter as India squandered a 2-1 lead and were forced into the tie-break.
Now, India will have also play in the qualifiers to enter the Tokyo Olympics 2020. "Malaysia are the deserving winners. We committed too many unforced errors and paid the price. We did not keep things simple. We tried to show our Indian skills and by doing that we lost the momentum. It is a big setback for Indian hockey. The road to Olympics is a lot bumpier now. We missed the easiest chance to qualify," said India coach Harendra Singh.
But it has been a gut-wrenching match for India after scoring 76 goals in the league phase against five teams. SV Sunil was the man who failed to convert the crucial penalty when Malaysia were leading 7-6. The team had recorded emphatic wins against Indonesia (17-0), Hong Kong (26-0), Japan (8-0), Korea (5-3) and Sri Lanka (20-0).
Harendra, however, said India were not at all fault in the shoot-out. "Shoot out is anybody's game. If we would have won, we should not have celebrated. In shoot-out, turning around is a problem. If your centre of gravity is low then it is easier (to turn around), if it is high then it becomes a problem," he said.
However, India will have to play one more match in Asian Games - against Pakistan for the bronze medal. But this has been a wonderful result for Malaysia as they are the 12th ranked team in the world and marked clear underdogs coming into this match against formidable looking India.
Malaysia too have been in good form as they have breezed past Kazakhstan (16-2), Thailand (10-0), Bangladesh (7-0) and Oman (7-0). However, they suffered a loss against Pakistan. India do not have a good record against Malaysia of late as they lost to them in the World Cup 2017 and went down 0-1 in the Azlan Shah Cup.