Hockey; FIH Series : Malaysia edge France

Malaysia and Czech Republic will fill the remaining two semi-final spots as they both overcame strong challenges from France and Scotland respectively.

Czech Republic will play hosts Ireland in the first semi-final on 15 June and the second semi-final will be an all-Asian contest as Malaysia take on Korea.

The first cross-over match witnessed one of the most competitive matches of the event so far as both Malaysia and France played for a spot in the semi-finals.

Unlike the previous match, France looked more driven and moved beyond the defensive tactics they applied against Korea.

However, the Malaysians were very much on the offensive and they converted two penalty corners in the first eight minutes to go 2-0 up through Nuraini Rashid (5th) and Fatin Shukri (8th).

The French team made amends and pulled one goal back as a good reverse stick shot by Albane Garot was converted by Delfina Gaspari.

On the brink of the end of the first quarter Hannis Onn displayed some really good skill on the ball and extended Malaysia’s lead

Malaysia looked in greater control for the majority of the first half but a yellow card in the 25th minute allowed France to step up their attack as Guusje Bolhuis Van converted a penalty corner in the 26th minute to reduce the deficit.

All five goals were scored in the first 26 minutes of the match, but the tempo of the game remained high throughout 60 minutes as both teams turned over a lot of the ball, and sought  to maintain pressure on the opposition.

In the final quarter the French team kept up the offensive with some good attacking hockey but couldn’t find an equaliser.

The last 100 seconds saw Malaysia go down to nine players and France sensed an opportunity through a penalty corner but couldn’t breach the Malaysian defence.

At the final whistle Malaysia led 3-2 to set up an all-Asian semi-final clash with Korea on 15 June.

Malaysia’s captain Siti Ruhani: “Now we are through to the semi-finals and we have to prepare really well against Korea and we will study their game closely”