ON TO THE NEXT ROUND

Malaysia on track for World Cup af­ter thump­ing Egypt

New Straits Times - - Sport - JUGJET SINGH jug jet@nst.com.my

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.

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