Defending Champions India registered their third consecutive victory at the 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy as they best Malaysia 3-2 in a closely-fought encounter here at the Sunrise Stadium on Thursday. India had earlier beaten Japan 4-1 and China 3-1 in their previous matches. With three convincing wins, India have qualified for the Final on Sunday as table toppers with nine points.
For India, goals were scored by Gurjit Kaur (17′), Vandana Katariya (33′) and Lalremsiami (40′) while Nuraini Rashid (36′) and Hanis Onn (48′) scored for Malaysia.
The first quarter saw both teams trade PCs with India opening the account in the very first minute of the match which put Malaysia on a backfoot. However, good PC defending saw Malaysia steer clear of an early goal by dragflicker Gurjit Kaur. Malaysia’s attempt to score off a PC too was overturned by Indian defenders.
India, who had beaten Malaysia 6-0 in the warm-up match ahead of the start of the tournament, made their first break through when PC specialist Gurjit Kaur improvised on Lilima Minz’ injection to strike the ball past Malaysian goalkeeper. She kept her flick low to find the bottom right corner of the post fetching India a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.
India though did not look their attacking best with Malaysia often denting their chances in the circle and kept the pressure on India, their goalkeeper came up with impressive saves to keep India from scoring from PCs.
However, the ten-minute half-time break helped India comeback with fresh variations to score. High press worked as India scored off a counter attack when a quick-thinking Vandana dispossessed Malaysian attacker inside India’s striking circle to score in the 33rd minute. Soon after, India conceded a Penalty Stroke when defender Deep Grace caused an infringement while attempting to stop Malaysian attacker from taking a shot on goal. Nuraini Rashid broke no sweat in on converting the Penalty Stroke.
The following minutes saw India win as many as three PCs but couldn’t make much of it. Meanwhile, a brilliant long pass by Skipper Sunita Lakra to the striking circle was deflected into the post by young forward Lalremsiami from the top of the circle displaying a perfect one-touch hockey. The goal took India’s lead to 3-1 in the 40th minute. The Final quarter saw Malaysia make amends to missed chances as they vied for late goals. Though Hanis Onn did well to score Malaysia’s second goal, they could not muster an equaliser or a winning goal. “We could have made better use of our chances to score today. Though we are happy with the win, we are not very happy about how we played. We will go back to the team hotel and discuss about the mistakes we made and how to improve ahead of the next match against Korea,” stated team Skipper Sunita Lakra after the match.
On 19 May, India will take on Korea at 11.30 hours IST in their third Pool Stage match at the 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy.