World Cup qualification remains possible for Asian rivals
Malaysia have kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup by defeating Pakistan 3-1 in their 5-8 placement meeting here in Johor Bahru. The win sets up a 5-6 placement match against Japan, shoot-out winners over South Africa earlier in the day. Pakistan and South Africa will compete in the 7-8 play-off game.
More information about the matches can be found below, along with video highlights.
5-8 Placement Matches
Malaysia – Pakistan 3-1 (2-1)
Malaysia have kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup by defeating Pakistan 3-1 in their 5-8 placement meeting here in Johor Bahru. The win sets up a 5-6 placement match against Japan, victors over South Africa earlier in the day.
As there is a very real possibility that a fifth place finish here in Johor could result in a berth at the World Cup, today’s result ensures that the meeting between the hosts and Japan will have an enormous amount of meaning for everyone involved.
Paul Revington’s men were in terrific form in the contest against the world number 5 ranked team, and drew first blood in the 14th minute when Muhammad Razie Adbul Rahim arrowed a penalty corner drag-flick into the bottom left corner.
However, Pakistan were level just two minutes later when Shafqat Rasool clipped in after a stunning passing move, but a mistake from goalkeeper Imran Butt resulted in an Own Goal in the 19th minute to re-establish the Malaysian advantage.
Malaysia extended their lead three minutes into the second half when Tengku Ahmad Tajudin Abdul Jalil slapped the ball into an open goal after an impressive move down the right, leaving Pakistan with a mountain to climb.
Pakistan came agonisingly close to reducing the deficit in the 54th minute when Muhammad Imran rattled the post with a brilliant penalty corner effort, before Abdul Haseem Khan fired wide with a diving shot two minutes later.
The Greenshirts battled hard throughout, but Malaysia were simply the better team on the day and will be greatly looking forward to their meeting with Japan on Sunday. Pakistan will play South Africa in the 7-8 placement game.
South Africa – Japan 2-2 (0-1) (Shoot-out: 0-1)
Japan have booked their place in the 5-6 place play-off match thanks to a penalty shoot-out victory over South Africa at the Hockey World League Semi Final in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Full time finished with the scores locked at 2-2, with Japan winning a bizarre shoot-out which saw nine out of the ten attempts fail. Kei Kawakami scored with the very final attempt, giving Japan a shot at a fifth place finish.
The result means that the team from Asia have kept alive their chances of achieving a top five finish at this tournament, something which may well be enough to land a place at the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup. Japan will now play the winner of the Malaysia – Pakistan game, which is the second match of the day here in Johor.
There were very few clear-cut opportunities to speak of in the first half, with both Japan and South Africa – who were missing captain Austin Smith and Jonathan Robinson through sickness – failing to seriously test their opposing goalkeepers. Nicholas Gonsalves came close to opening the scoring midway through the first period, attempting but failing to get a touch on a searching pass across the face of goal from Julian Hykes.
Japan won a trio of penalty corners at the end of the first half, giving them the perfect chance to take an advantage into the break. The South African defence made outstanding blocks to clear the first two efforts, but it was third time lucky for Japan as Manabu Hatakeyama sent a low drag-flick into the middle of the goal to give his team the lead.
The Asian team came out strongest in the early stages of the second half but failed to capitalise on some good scoring chances before South Africa began to assert some authority on the game and eventually pulled themselves level. Craig Haley was the scorer, cracking home a penalty corner rebound in the 56th minute.
With eight minutes of the match remaining, South Africa moved into the lead with another penalty corner, with Wade Paton finding the bottom right corner of the goal with a fine drag flick from the left of the circle.
With time rapidly running out, Japan rolled the dice and decided to replace goalkeeper Katsuya Takese with an outfield player. It was a tactic that worked beautifully, allowing them to press their opponents deep and eventually force an own goal to tie the scores in the 69th minute.
Takese returned to the field in the final minute, ensuring that he would be involved in one of the most bizarre shoot-outs imaginable. The first nine efforts were missed, with South Africa failing to score all five of their chances before Kei Kawakami managed to break the deadlock and seal Japan’s place in the 5-6 play-off.Back