The dream of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games moved a little closer to reality for two hopeful nations on Saturday, with Malaysia and Poland winning their respective semi-finals at the men’s Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in Singapore.
Malaysia’s dramatic shoot-out victory over Japan and Poland’s comfortable win against Oman not only guaranteed a place in the competition final, but also sealed a safe passage through to the HWL Semi-Final phase where coveted berths at Rio 2016 are up for grabs.
Japan (FIH World Ranking: 15) produced a tremendous performance to push tournament top seeds Malaysia (WR: 12) all the way in the first semi-final, with Japan’s Kenta Tenaka cancelling out Marhan Jalil’s early strike to leave the tied at 1-1. The keepers were in fine form in the shoot-out, forcing five saves before Fitri Saari netted the decisive goal to send the Malaysians into the event final.
Poland (WR: 18) continued their fine form with a 7-1 win over Oman (WR: 23), with Krystian Makowski helping himself to a hat-trick to confirm his team’s place in the Olympic qualifying phase of the HWL. Polish captain Pawel Bratkowski netted his eighth goal of the campaign, leaving him two behind Malaysia’s Faizal Saari in the race to finish as tournament top scorer.
All eight teams will be in action on Sunday (25 January), with the final day’s play getting underway with Mexico and host nation Singapore going head-to-head in the 7-8 classification match (0900 local time – UTC/GMT +8) before Ukraine and Bangladesh take to the field in the battle for 5th place (1500).
Japan and Oman (1730) will contest a hugely significant 3-4 classification match, with the prize of a place in the Olympic qualifier stage of the Hockey World League being on the line ahead of the showpiece final between Malaysia and Poland (2030). To see all tournament fixtures and results, please click here.
You can keep track of all of the action from Singapore on the official tournament microsite.