Brave China denied but World Cup qualification dream remains alive and kicking
Malaysia produced a superb fightback against China to take the final of the men's Hockey World League Round 2 event in Dhaka to a dramatic shoot-out before emerging triumphant at the Moulana Bhashani Hockey Stadium on Sunday (12 March).
Lower ranked China (FIH Hero World Ranking: 18) moved into a 2-0 lead thanks to strikes from Du Taleke – later named as the tournament’s best player – and Su Jun, an advantage that they held until the first minute of the fourth quarter when a Sharil Saabah penalty corner dragged Malaysia (WR: 13) back into the contest.
The equalizer arrived five minutes from the end of the contest, with Najmi Jazlan scoring a penalty corner to force the match into a shoot-out in which Malaysia excelled. Both nations successfully converted their efforts in the first three rounds with Tengku Ahmad giving Malaysia a 4-3 lead. A miss from China’s Meng Dihao proved decisive, with Fitri Saari netting to give Malaysia a 5-3 victory and a fantastic confidence booster going into this summer’s Hockey World League Semi-Finals, where those coveted tickets to the 2018 Hockey World Cup are up for grabs. China, who impressed greatly in Bangladesh, will also move forward to the Semi-Final stage and look capable of putting forward a serious challenge.
Egypt sealed third place in the competition by powering to a 5-1 triumph over Oman. Egypt held a narrow 2-1 lead going into the final quarter before netting three times in six minutes to kill the tie, with Amr Ibrahim scoring two penalty corners before Mahmoud Mamdouh completed the scoring in the final minute.
Egypt must now wait until the completion of all the men’s Round 2 events before knowing if they are one of the two highest ranked of the three third placed finishers, something which would be enough for a ticket to the Semi-Final phase of the Hockey World League.
Earlier in the day, host nation Bangladesh finished their competition on a positive note by defeating Ghana in a shoot-out. The home favourites needed a last-minute strike from team captain Rashel Mahmud to tie the match at 3-3 with Krishno-Kumar Das scoring the vital goal when the shoot-out went to sudden death.
Sri Lanka sealed a 7th place finish with a 5-3 victory over Fiji thanks in part to a Shamika Gunawardhana double in the second quarter of the contest.
Like all the Round 2 events, the competition in Dhaka featured a clash between teams that came through the first phase of the competition against sides that were automatically given a bye through to Round 2 due to their higher placement in the FIH Hero World Rankings. The highest ranked teams will enter the competition at the Semi-Final stage of the Hockey World League.
The top two finishers from the men’s Round 2 events in Dhaka, Belfast (11-19 Mar 2017) and Tacarigua, (25 Mar-2 Apr 2017) are certain to qualify for the Semi-Finals, being joined in the World Cup qualifier phase by the two highest ranked of the third placed finishers from those three events.
To learn more about how the teams progress through the competition in the hope of reaching the 2018 Hockey World Cups, click here, with more details about all of the HWL events available by clicking here.
More information about the tournament in Dhaka can be found on the official competition pages by clicking here and on FIH’s social media channels by using the #HWL2017 hashtag.
7: Sri Lanka