What a save: Malaysia’s goalkeeper Muhammad Hafizuddin Othman palms away a shot by Germany’s German’s Moritz Trompertz in the Sultan of Johor Cup match at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium Sunday night. Malaysia won 3-2.
JOHOR BARU: As promised by their coach, the Malaysians were roaring tigers against junior world champions Germany.
The defending champions showed incredible fighting spirit to come back from a two-goal deficit to upset favourites Germany 3-2 in a thrilling encounter on the opening day of the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium yesterday.
It was a mixed performance from the Malaysians who were pathetic in the first half as they allowed the Germans to score twice. But they turned their game around after the breather with some breathtaking movements and stunned the European powerhouse, who are favoured to win the Junior World Cup in Delhi next year.
The players seemed to have heeded coach K. Dharmaraj’s call to keep up a winning mentality and not be nervous when facing the world champions.
“It’s an important result that puts us in the proper frame of mind for the rest of the tournament. We must try to win every match no matter who the opponents are,” said a happy Dharmaraj after the game.
“In the second-half, the players showed they have the calibre to play good hockey and take the fight to their opponents,”
The coach made a surprise decision when he played youngster Mohamed Zulhairi Hahim in the starting lineup.
Zuhairi was among the two players who did not feature in the tournament last year or the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca. The other is goalkeeper Shahrul Azaddin Auskarzie.
Still, they had enough experience in the team, including four under-21 players in Mohamed Noor Feez Ibrahim, Mohamed Ramadhan Rosli, Amir Frid and Mohamed Forhan Azhaari.
The Malaysians began on a fast note and even forced four penalty corners in a row in the fourth minute. But it was all for nothing with German goalkeeper Victor Ally in great form.
Germany then struck in the 18th minute from only their second penalty corner when Tom Grambusch scored with a drag flick.
The five-time junior world champions were on a roll and scored their second from a field attempt by Moritz Trompertz.
Dharmaraj’s hairdryer blast must have done wonders for the young Malaysians as they stormed back after the break and quickly took control. They needed a mere three minutes to get back into the game.
Mohamed Syamin Yusof took a shot at goal from the right which had the goalkeeper beaten and Amir Farid had the easy task of slotting into an empty net. The Malaysians were in command and earned their fifth penalty corner in the 50th minute. A flick from Noor Faeez hit defender Mathias Mullers and the umpire awarded a stroke for Malaysia.
Faeez strode up and converted the flick to make it 2-2. The Germans were reeling and the Malaysians continued to push hard.
With just two minutes remaining, the Malaysians whipped up a winner. It came from Mohamed Ramadhan from the left with a superb reverse hit that had the German defence beaten.