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Hockey: Hosts Malaysia stun favourites NZ to reach semis in Kuantan

Malaysia celebrate a stunning penalty shootout win over favourites New Zealand to reach the semi-finals of the Pahang Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan on the east coast. Photos: c/o FIH. 

May 2, 2014: Hosts Malaysia were the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the Pahang Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan after edging previously unbeaten New Zealand 3-2 in a penalty shootout following a 4-4 draw in regulation time.


Korea beat Japan 5-1 in Thursday’s last quarter-final, while earlier Canada beat Poland 3-2 and Ireland beat France in a shootout after 2-2 draw in regulation time. Malaysia will face Canada in Saturday’s semi-finals, while Korea will take on Ireland.


Malaysia gave up a 4-1 half-time lead in their clash with tournament favourites New Zealand at Stadium Hockey Wisma Belia, where a big crowd watched two teams preparing for the upcoming Rabobank Hockey World Cup in the Netherlands.


The Black Sticks, the world’s sixth-ranked side, were quick to get on the scoreboard as Steve Edwards put his team ahead after three minutes of a match played in four 17½-minute quarters, due to the hot weather conditions in Kuantan.


After Malaysia team captain Azlan Misron equalised from open play in the 20th minute, the ‘Speedy Tigers’ added another just three minutes later when Muhammad Saabah – later named Man of the Match – fired home a penalty corner, with the unbeaten Black Sticks going behind for the first time in the tournament.


Fitri Saari scored a minute later after a solo run and the raucous crowd then pushed Malaysia for a fourth goal, which eventually came off the stick of Saabah in the 31st minute. Malaysia nearly added a fifth, but goalkeeper Devon Manchester eventually thwarted Faizal Saari after the Malaysian’s solo run.


New Zealand had better control of the game in the third quarter, as flicker Andy Hayward converted a penalty corner in the 45th minute. After the teams returned for the fourth and final quarter, Hayward scored on the hour mark to make it 4-3.


With three minutes remaining, New Zealand substituted their goalkeeper to play with 11 outfield players and the tactic paid off as they won a penalty corner in the last minute, which led to another corner that hat-trick hero Hayward converted.


In the shootout, Hugo Inglis and Blair Hilton put New Zealand 2-0 ahead, but Malaysia fought back and won after scoring their last three attempts through Firhan Ashari, Saabah and Fitri Saari.


Malaysia coach Muhammad Dhaarma Raj said: “Their late equaliser was very difficult to swallow, but we managed to prepare the boys for the shootout.”


New Zealand coach Colin Batch said. “We lost this match in the second quarter, but I’m very proud on how the guys came back in the second half.”


Korea celebrate a convincing 5-1 win over Japan in Thursday's last quarter-final.

Korea enjoyed a convincing 5-1 win over Japan in Thursday’s last quarter-final.

Jang Jong-hyun powered home a penalty-corner hat-trick as Korea convincingly beat East Asian rivals Japan in the last quarter-final, ensuring the Asian champions remained unbeaten in Kuantan.


The world’s seventh-ranked side opened the scoring when Hyun Hye-sung converted from close range in the 11th minute, before Jang converted corners in the 24th, 40th and 49th minutes and Nam Hyun added a corner in the 59th minute. Heita Yoshihara scored a consolation goal for Japan in the 63rd minute.


Korea coach Shin Seok-kyo said: “Penalty corners are the strength of the Korean team, so I’m happy with this. This was not an easy win. Japan played very well and put us under pressure.”


Source: FIH

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