Malaysia won a thrilling Gold medal match against Singapore in the most dramatic way possible, having to edge past the hosts courtesy of a 4-3 win on penalties.
The final day of the hockey event at the Sea Games 2015 could have produced no bigger game in the region than Singapore vs Malaysia, the fierce rivals locking horns with Gold at stake.
Malaysia had the psychological advantage having already beaten the hosts 4-1 in the previous round.
An electric start for Singapore right from hit off saw a great move almost rounded off by Silas, but his relatively weak shot was saved by Malaysian keeper Ridzwan, however, it represented a great start to the game by the underdogs.
As expected though, Singapore were soon coming under pressure but they were up for a fight and showed plenty in the way of great defence and solid counter attacking, bringing some hope to the contingent who came to support the hosts.
Malaysia finally made one of their penalty corners count, the sixth such one in the first 15 minutes led to the goal, prodded home by Hamsani Ashran.
Singapore then lost that spring in their step after conceding the first goal and the visitors began to take command of the game, the hosts having nothing but a few counter attacks which led to nothing. The best player on the pitch was Singapore captain Enrico Marican who produced some great interceptions along with some decisive passes to get his team out of trouble. The half ended 1-0 in favour of the visitors
The second half began just the way the first did, commanding play from Malaysia and resolute defending by Singapore but the hosts could not hold on for long as a goal by number 9 Abdul Rahman doubled Malaysia’s lead, the forward pouncing on a rebound following a saved penalty corner.
Singapore finally had their first penalty corner, 15 minutes into the 2nd half, leading to the start of some sustained pressure from Solly Casoojee’s men. That intense attacking display finally paid off with some great wing play by Enrico setting up Abdul Hafiz for the goal, Singapore finding themselves back in the game.
However, it seemed las though the match was done and dusted when Malaysia slotted in another penalty corner, only for the goal to be overturned by the referee after an obstruction foul.
Singapore were giving it all they had, maybe their best was not good enough for this young Malaysian side who were defending with great resilience but Captain Fantastic was there to turn in a goal in the last minute of regulation time, a scrappy finish but a goal nonetheless. 2-2 after 70 minutes.
The game then went on to the dreaded penalties and just like we have seen time and time again, there are no favourites when it comes to penalties.
Malaysia went on to win the match after 7 successful penalty attempts and along with it, the gold medal , after Singapore’s best players in the tournament , Enrico and Ashriq, failed to convert their set pieces while Malaysia just failed to convert one of theirs.
A game worthy of a final, which finished in favour of the visitors but Singapore can hold their heads high after a fantastic performance.