The Indian Junior Men’s Hockey team started off their 8th Sultan of Johor Cup 2018 campaign with a hard fought 2-1 victory against hosts Malaysia in their opening match of the tournament here today at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium.
Harmanjit Singh (12’) and Shilanand Lakra (46’) scored the goals for India while Muhammad Zaidi (47’) pulled a goal back for Malaysia.
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An exciting start to the match saw both the teams vie for possession in the middle of the park, but neither could stitch together a string of passes.
It was only after the 10th minute that India found an opening through a long-ball played from deep inside their circle.
However, the opportunity was missed as Malaysian Goalkeeper Adrian Albert made a great save.
But the Indians started to find some rhythm and drew first blood in the 12th minute as Harmanjit Singh deflected a pass from inside the circle to put it past Adrian Albert and give his team their first goal of the tournament.
The second quarter belonged to Malaysia as the home team troubled the Indian defence on several occasions by creating opportunities.
However, some resolute defending by the Indian defence made sure that the hosts could not find an equalizer before the half-time whistle.
India started the third quarter on the front foot and tried to stamp their authority on the match by creating several chances.
But the Malaysian defence stuck to their task to not concede another goal and keep their team in the match.
The visitors finally managed to convert their one-goal advantage into two as Shilanand Lakra found himself in space inside the circle and finished calmly to make it 2-0 in the 46th minute.
But Malaysia responded with an attack of their own in the next minute with Muhammad Zaidi bagging the goal for the hosts as he scored past Indian Goalkeeper Pankaj Rajak to make it 2-1.
With just 13 minutes remaining on the clock, Malaysia stepped up their efforts again and created a few opportunities, but could not find an opening as India defended well.
The visitors also had chances to finish off the match, but their resolute defending in the closing stages saw them win all the three points in their opening match of the competition.
India will now face New Zealand in their second match on Sunday, 7th October 2018, at 15.35hrs IST.