ON TO THE NEXT ROUND
Malaysia on track for World Cup after thumping Egypt
MALAYSIA qualified for the World League Semifinals, when they beat Egypt 5-0 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, yesterday.
The finalists here will play either in London or Johannesburg to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in India.
Egypt opted to defend in numbers, and rely on counter-attacks and it backfired on them.
Malaysia will play China for the World League Round Two gold medal today. China won the semifinals 5-1.
Razie Rahim calmed the Malaysian nerves when he fired a low penalty corner towards Egypt goalkeeper Wael Noureldin’s left in the 15th minute for the lead.
This was what Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Technical Director Terry Walsh had recommended a day before as he noticed Wael was weak in that area.
After that, the goals came easy through Fitri Shaari (26th), Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (30th), Shahril Saabah (44th) and Aiman Nik Rosemi (49th).
After accomplishing their first goal, the Malaysian players took a portrait shot — and are looking forward to claiming the gold medal as well.
“One target down, now for the gold medal,” said a relieved Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen.
On paper and going by this tournament’s form, China are no match for Malaysia.
“Credit to the players as they displayed an all-round polished performance. This was our best match in this tournament so far, and I believe that we can beat China in the final to defend our World League gold medal,” said van Huizen.
In the 2015 World League Round Two in Singapore, Malaysia whipped Poland 8-0 in the final.
Looking forward, the coach has many options for the World League Semifinals as four regulars were left behind due to injuries and family commitments.
“Yes, we left four players (S. Kumar, Firhan Ashaari, Baljit Singh, Faizal Shaari) back home and I believe we will have a much stronger team for the World League Semifinals where we hope to qualify for the India World Cup,” said van Huizen.
Johannesburg will host the World League Semifinals on July 9-23, while in London it will be on June 15-25.
RESULTS — Semi-finals: Malaysia 5 Egypt 0, China 5 Oman 1; Fifth-Eighth: Sri Lanka 0 Bangladesh 9, Ghana 11 Fiji 2. TODAY — Final: Malaysia v China/Oman (6pm); Third Fourth: Oman/China v Egypt (3.45pm); Fifth-Sixth: Bangladesh v Ghana (1.30pm); Seventh-Eighth: Fiji v Sri Lanka (11.15pm) — All Malaysian time.