The Pahang Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan and the Champions Challenge 1 in Glasgow threw up some surprise results, and no nation will be celebrating hockey more wildly than Ireland tonight, after both the men's and the women's team beat opposition who were ranked higher in the world rankings and booked their places in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Host nation Malaysia were the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1. Fitri Saari emerged as the hero when his Speedy Tigers defeated the Black Sticks 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out. New Zealand, who entered this quarter-final as the unbeaten pool A winners, found themselves trailing 4-1. However, they were able to bounce back and a goal scored in the final minute forced the ambitious Malaysian side into a shoot-out competition, with Saari scoring the winning goal.
Ireland faced European rivals France, and this closely-contested match went to shoot-out after the match finished in regulation time at 2-2. Hero for the Green Machine was goalkeeper David Harte who kept his team in the game and then kept a clean sheet in Ireland's 3-0 victory in the shoot-out.
Things got physical in the match between Canada and Poland, with two players receiving red cards with just one minute left on the clock. The tense match finished 3-2 in Canada's favour after a goalless first quarter burst into life for the next three quarters. Poland were in the ascendancy until the final quarter, but Canada found the winning goal in the 60th minute, before seeing out a tense final 10 minutes.
Korea remain unbeaten after they recorded a convincing 5-1 win over their rivals Japan. Korea were the dominant side throughout the match and ran out comfortable winners with Jang Jong Hyun scoring a hat-trick and Hyun Hye Sung and Nam Hyun adding to the total. Japan’s consolation goal was provided by Heita Yoshihara.
Saturday's semi-finals will see Malaysia take on Canada, while Ireland will play the unbeaten Korea side. In the 5th-8th place matches New Zealand will play Poland and France will face Japan.
In Glasgow, Ireland women pulled off the shock result of the day when they defeated Korea 2-1 As the team that finished in last place in their pool, Ireland were not expected to win this encounter, but they started sharply, with Kathyrn Mullan scoring from a penalty corner in the third minute. Korea came back into the match when Hye Lyoung Han scored from a penalty corner, but with just over 10 minutes left on the clock Anna O'Flanagan made it 2-1.
The second quarter final was a battle of the 'Reds'. In this case the Spanish Red Sticks against Belgium Red Panthers. Spain eventually won 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out after the match finished 1-1 in regulation time. As expected, this was a close game. There were goals at both ends of the first half, Spain took the lead in the 6th minute when captain Rocio Ybarra scored from a penalty corner, and Belgium hit back through Alix Gerniers (31') from a lovely piece of passing play that left the Spaniards causing shadows.
In the shoot-out, both teams showed a lot of nerves, and the keepers were able to force errors so that at the end of the first five attempts on goal the score stood at 2-2. In sudden death, it was Spain's Alicia Magez who scored the winning goal.
A performance of grit and determination in the face of a well-organised, spirited India team was how USA coach Craig Parnham summed up his team's performance in the last quarter final match. The USA won 1-0, through a goal by Rachel Dawson, but the performance was a far cry from the dominate displays they had shown earlier in the tournament. In comparison, India coach Neil Hawgood was delighted with the improvement shown by his side.
In the semi finals South Africa will face Ireland, while the USA will play Spain. The 5th-8th places will see Korea take on Scotland and Belgium against India.
For more information about the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan and the Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Glasgow, please visit our official tournament event pages. The microsites will bring you all of the news coming from the event, including written match reports, action photos, official match documents, goal scoring statistics and much more. Click here to get to the event page
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