Malaysia make 2018 World Cup

THE LONDON DISPATCH
Malaysia has qualified for the 2018 World Cup. 

And they did it in style when they defeated India 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the World Hockey League Semi Final at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

The Malaysians led the match twice to set up a semi-final date with Argentina on Saturday.

The Malaysians also stand a chance of making the World Hockey League Final in Bhubaneswar, India in December this year.

They need to finish in third place to achieve that.

Malaysian skipper Mohamed Shukri Mutalib termed this result as the best in Malaysian hockey in recent years.

“ I certainly rank this as one of our best performance and to book a berth in the World Cup on merit. I credit all the players for this important win and they have shown that there is nothing to be afraid of in world hockey,” he said.

“More importantly I think we will get the attention of the big teams and also a chance to play them more often. Now we will turn towards the next match with Argentina and plan accordingly. They are world number one team and you cannot have tougher match than that,” he said.

Malaysia pressed hard from the start and they earned two penalty corners in the third and fourth minutes.

But both times the efforts failed to get the desired result.

But soon India had control of the match and they kept up a string of attacks.

Malaysia had one good chance in the 10th minute but Faizal Saari could not get a hit in.

Tengku Ahmed Tajuddin had a good chance to put the Malaysians ahead in the 16th minute when he entered the D and shot straight at goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya.

But the Malaysians went on to take a 2-0 lead by the 20th minute.

They had their third penalty corner in the 19th minute and Mohamed Razie Rahim scored with a direct drag flick.

A minute later another penalty corner and Razie”s flick this time was deflected into the net by Tengku Ahmad.

But the joy lasted just four minutes for the Malaysians.

Indian centre forward Ramandeep Singh produced two deflections in the 24th and 26th minutes to put India back on level terms.

The Malaysians came under tremendous pressure but managed to hold on until half-time.

The third quarter produced some exciting attacking moves but both teams were making too many mistakes to create any goal scoring chances.

The Indians changed their goalkeeper and replaced Dahiya with Chikte Akash.

But the third quarter had no more goals.

In the fourth quarter, the Malaysians started off strongly and in the 48th minute earned their sixth penalty corner.

Razie this time did not make any mistake to flick to the right of Akash and put Malaysia in the lead again.

In the end, that goal sent Malaysian into the world Cup and on the verge of a place in the WHL Final in December.