In a very close and energetic match, Canada suffered a heartbreak against perennial rivals Malaysia, ending with a loss in a game they always seemed in a position to grab.
The Malaysian and Canadian teams are only a few spots apart in the FIH World Rankings (13th for Malaysia, 16th for Canada) and had already met each other… six times this year, in unofficial matches, at the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh and at the Champions Challenge in Kuantan.
Malaysia had a slight edge in number of wins, but Canada won a prestige victory in a dramatic shoot-out in the semi-final of the Champions Challenge in front of a boisterous Malaysian home crowd.
Both teams were quick in action in today’s game, played in another beautiful day in Glasgow.
There were circle penetrations at both ends, play was physical, and the capacity crowd in the Scottish national Hockey Centre was kept well entertained, showing loudly its appreciation when Gordie Johnston gave a stunning display of individual skills when trapped in a corner by three opponents.
Malaysia scored on their first penalty-corner in the 15th minute, using a variation that fouled the Canadian runners.
Canada was not deterred by the set-back and kept their attacking game, but had trouble penetrating the tightly meshed Malaysian defence, or connecting with each other when they did. Their only chance of the period was on a penalty-corner, but Tupper could not capitalize and Malaysia walked into the half-time break with a slim one-goal lead.
Canada survived a penalty-corner early in second period, then had most of the control of play, besieging the Malaysian circle. Play was getting fairly rough, with many players crammed in the Malaysian defensive end, but the Malaysians always seemed to be an extra split second ahead of the Canadians in the critical moments to intercept the last pass or prevent a shot.
The final minutes of the game were played a breakneck speed from one end to the other, with Malaysia scoring in the final minute to end with a flattering two-goal cushion.
For complete match statistics click here.
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