MALAYSIA qualified for the Junior World Cup when they beat Japan 3-1 in the Junior Asia Cup at the MBM Stadium in Malacca yesterday.
The semi-finalists of the tournament advance to New Delhi in November next year, and the hosts were followed by Pakistan, India and South Korea.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) gave three tickets to Asia, and India as hosts, so the semi-finalists will be under less pressure on Thursday.
Group A champions Malaysia will meet Group B second placed India, while in the other semi-finalists, Group B champions Pakistan play Group A runners-up South Korea.
“Even though the pressure is less in the semi-finals as we have already qualified for the World Cup, but I will push my players two steps further and go for the gold medal now,” said Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj.
However, the encounter against Japan, who needed five goals to pip Malaysia, was not an easy one.
The Japanese scored first in the fourth minute when Yohei Mori caught the defense napping.
But the 5,000-odd crowd at the MBM Stadium kept up the cheers, and Malaysia equalised off their second penalty corner in the 14th minute when skipper Nor Faeez Ibrahim’s low push almost cracked the board.
The score stood until the half-time hooter.
And after the rest, it was another tale of misses for Malaysia, until the 58th minute when Syamim Yusof had the final touch after a brilliant move in the semi-circle.
And Faizal Saari made sure in the 67th minute with a brilliant half-hit to sent the crowd into wild celebrations.
RESULTS: Group B: China 1 India 2, Pakistan 14 Sri Lanka 0; Group A: Japan 1 Malaysia 3.
Wednesday: Classification -- China v Iran (6pm), Japan v Sri Lanka (8pm).
Thursday: Malaysia v India (6pm), Pakistan v South Korea (8pm).
P W D L F A Pts
MALAYSIA 3 3 0 0 15 5 9
SOUTH KOREA 3 2 0 1 12 8 6
JAPAN 3 1 0 2 5 8 3
IRAN 3 0 0 3 3 14 0
P W D L F A Pts
PAKISTAN 3 2 1 0 17 2 7
INDIA 3 2 1 0 15 3 7
CHINA 3 1 0 2 6 3 3
S LANKA 3 0 0 3 0 30 0