WE did it! Malaysian players celebrate after beating China 3-0 and will play the Kiwis for a ticket to the New Delhi World Cup.
MALAYSIA earned their merit badge to play in the final of the World Cup Qualifier when they side-stepped 13th ranked China 3-0 in Invercargill, New Zealand yesterday.
The decisive win gave Malaysia a chance to play in the World Cup, provided they beat world number 8 New Zealand today.
Kelvinder Singh, rested much of the tournament, provided the spark in the second half, when he cooly deflected home a pass from Amin Rahim in the 37th minute.
The goal saw Malaysia raising the tempo to a maddening height, and a minute later, Kelvinder Singh was again on target but the China goalkeeper stopped him and the ball fell in Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin’s path.
Tengku, with his back facing the goal mouth, made a cheeky attempt between his legs, and beat China goalkeeper Rifeng Su.
China, shocked at the sudden transformation of Malaysia from a docile first half, to an attacking second half, started to crumble.
And the decisive third goal was scored by Nabil Fiqri in the 51st minute and Malaysia get their chance to redeem the 4-2 defeat against New Zealand in the pool match.
The stakes are high today, with the winner becoming the 11th team to qualify for the New Delhi World Cup, while the loser only a silver medallists..
Statistically, New Zealand are the superior team, but the unpredictable Malaysian side is capable of an upset.
Malaysia and New Zealand have played a total of 51 times, with the Kiwis winning 27, losing 12, and 12 matches ended as draws.
In total, the Kiwis have scored 105 against Malaysia, and were in the receiving end only 71 times.
Malaysian coach Tai Beng Hai was optimistic that his 16th ranked team will be able to beat a team which is eight rungs higher.
“We were not even expected to make the final, but here we are today. It is a totally new tournament, the final, and I believe my players are in the upward trend.
“We have nothing to lose, and I know my players are more confident when playing New Zealand than European sides,” said Beng Hai.
The coach made a good decision when he rested skipper Madzli Ikmar and fielded youngster Razie Rahim in defense to partner Jiwa Mohan, Amin Rahim and Baljit Singh.
Razie believes he will not disappoint in the final: “I am ready to stop the Kiwis as I roughly know what to expect as we have played them many times in recent months. The feeling is that, Malaysia will qualify for the World Cup.” said the 22- year-old.
Kelvinder Singh, 24, is also looking forward to score more goals: “I did not play much here because I was recovering from an ankle injury. But after giving my all against China, my ankle did not trouble me, and I will be at my best in the final.”
RESULTS: Malaysia 3 China 0, New Zealand 4 Austria 0, Scotland 2 Wales 1.
TODAY (Malaysian Time): Final -- Malaysia v New Zealand (10am); Third-Fourth: China v Scotland (7am); Fifth-Sixth: Austria v Wales (5am).
P W D L F A Pts
New Zealand 5 5 0 0 28 5 15
Malaysia 5 3 1 1 12 9 10
China 5 3 0 2 7 12 9
Scotland 5 2 0 3 8 16 6
Austria 5 1 1 3 7 11 4
Wales 5 0 0 5 5 14 0