Malaysia missed the cut for the semi-finals of the women’s event when they slipped to a 1-3 loss to Japan in final Group A match at the GBK Hockey Stadium.The Malaysians needed a draw and there was some hope after the first two quarters that they would be able to match the world number 13.
But despite the gallant effort the Malaysians, ranked 22, could not hold back the Japanese who were more mobile and speedier than the Malaysians.
Malaysia’s defeat allowed China to make the last four on better goal difference. Both teams had seven points, but the Chinese had a goal difference of 22 goals compared to Malaysian’s 17.
Malaysia’s best showing in the Asiad had been in 1982 when they won the bronze medal. Since then they have played in four other Games and finished in fourth place in 1986 and fifth in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
Japan, on the other hand, has a unique record along with India and South Korea. They are only three teams that have played in all nine editions of the event since the women’s game was introduced in 1982.
And all three teams have been in the top four of all editions.
Japan, however, have not won the gold medal. They have won the silver three times in 1986, 1994, and 2006.
Malaysian coach Muhammad Dharmaraj Abdullah said that they had come out short against the Japan team.
“They are higher ranked than us and played much better. The difference I felt is that they had better finishing. We did have some chances at goal, but we could not put them away.
“I am proud of the girls for their fighting spirit and commitment. We have improved but still not enough to beat the higher ranked players. We will now focus on the next game and try to finish as high as possible,” he said.
After a goalless first quarter, the Japanese took the lead in the 20th minute. Karina Mami was left unchecked in the D and the lanky Japanese had the easy task of slotting home from close range.
The Malaysians maintained the attacking ways and had several close calls but it was not enough to beat the Japanese defence.
In the 32nd minute, the Japanese missed a penalty stroke when Shihori Okinawa’s flick hit the post and went out.
But the Japanese increased their lead in the 37th minute with Hazuki Nagai scoring form a penalty corner set piece move.
The Malaysians earned a penalty corner in the 38th minute but Nuraini Abdul Rashid’s attempt was well saved by Japanese goalkeeper Akio Tanaka.
Malaysia finally managed to score in the 46th minute off a quick counter-attack with Nuramirah Shakirah Zulkifli scoring a field attempt.
But they still needed another goal. That became a distant dream as the Japanese scored their third goal. Hazuki was the goal scorer off a penalty corner in the 49th minute.
The Malaysian dream ended soon after.