Jakarta: Defending champions India were Thursday knocked out of the Asian Games gold medal contention and denied a direct entry into the 2020 Olympics, with Malaysia again proving to be their Achilles heel in the men’s hockey semifinals. The Malaysians handed India a heartbreaking 6-7 loss in sudden death after an exhausting shoot-off.
Malaysia, who had beaten India in the last-four stage eight years ago at Guangzhou, made their wasteful opponents pay for their mistakes, both in regulation time and shoot-off. Both teams were tied at 2-2 after 60 minutes.
India conceded a late goal to push the match into shoot-off after Harmanpreet Singh (33rd) and Varun Kumar (40th) had scored from penalty corners. Malaysia struck through Faizal Saari (39th) and Muhammad Razie, who found the all-important equaliser less than two minutes before the end of regulation time.
In the shoot-off, it was anyone’s game and Malaysia handled the nerves better to make their second Asiad final.
India, who had scored a record 76 goals in the group stage, were left stunned after SV Sunil missed his attempt in the sudden death. Only Akashdeep and Harmanpreet scored in the first five shots of the shoot-off while Manpreet Singh, Dilpreet Singh and Sunil faltered.
Goalkeeper P R Sreejesh kept India in the game as he only let in two goals from Muhammad Ashari and Fitri Saari. Tengku Ahmad, Faizal Saari and Muhammad Azuan missed the target for Malaysia.
In sudden death, Malaysia’s all five attempts were successful while India scored the first four before Sunil cracked under pressure.