x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Golden goal clinches win for UAE over Thailand in IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia

The UAE nearly squandered a three-goal lead as Thailand scored three times in the last eight minutes to force the game into extra time.

The UAE’s Mubarak Al Mazrouie, centre, celebrates with teammates after scoring against Thailand during their IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia game at the Zayed Sports City Ice Rink in Abu Dhabi last night. Christopher Pike / The National
The UAE’s Mubarak Al Mazrouie, centre, celebrates with teammates after scoring against Thailand during their IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia game at the Zayed Sports City Ice Rink in Abu Dhabi last night. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // The UAE and Chinese Taipei have taken home the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia five times between them and remain the only unbeaten teams after two rounds of this year’s seventh edition of the championship.

The UAE, winners in 2009 and 2012, were given a scare before Saeed Al Nuaimi scored a golden-goal winner to clinch a 5-4 victory over Thailand last night while defending champions Taipei had no such problems in a 16-1 drubbing of Kuwait at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink.

The UAE nearly squandered a three-goal lead as Thailand scored three times in the last eight minutes to force the game into extra time.

“They scored twice when we had Mubarak Al Mazrouie sin-binned but on equal terms we got a chance and scored the golden-goal winner,” Emirati defender Ibrahim Budebs said.

“In this league format of the competition every game is like a final.

“They applied pressure and nearly took the game from us. You just can’t afford to relax and we nearly paid a heavy price.

“It was a good lesson and it was good we had to experience it so early in the competition.”

Masato Kitayama cut the lead to 4-2 before Likit Neimwan closed it to one goal with a minute and 42 seconds left on the clock. Tewin Chartsuwan then struck the equaliser with less than 30 seconds left to force the game in to five minutes of extra time.

The host team had taken a firm hold early in their second match of the tournament last night and had a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period.

Omar Al Shamsi scored the UAE’s first goal in the eighth minute off an assist from Faisal Al Blooshi and Juma Al Dhaheri doubled it three minutes later with a first-time shot.

Tim Suphankomut pulled one back for Thailand with an excellent flick to the roof of the net but Obaid Al Muharrami regained the two-goal cushion for the 3-1 lead at the end of the first period.

Al Mazrouie scored with four minutes left in the second period to extend the UAE’s lead to 4-1 before Thailand rallied to score three times in eight minutes.

Earlier, Taipei went on the rampage against Kuwait. They took a 6-0 lead at the end of the first period and piled on the goals.

To Weng led the charge with four goals with Chang Kai Hsiang and Yang Chang Hsing scoring three apiece. Meshal Al Ajmi scored a consolation goal for Kuwait in the second period.

Taipei will meet the UAE in the second last game on Thursday and Weng, the captain, believes this game is likely to be the championship decider.

Taipei meet Thailand tomorrow after today’s rest day.

“From what we have seen so far, the UAE definitely seems the strongest opponent,” the Taiwan captain said.

“The UAE have progressed well as a team and we believe they have an excellent development programme.

“We still have a game before we play the UAE and our focus will be on this game.”

In the other game last night, Mongolia bounced back from their narrow defeat to Thailand in a penalty shoot-out in their first game to get the better of Hong Kong 9-2

apassela@thenational.ae