MALAYSIA qualified for the Junior World Cup, when they beat South Korea 6-3 in the Junior Asia Cup at the MBM Stadium in Malacca yesterday.
The semi-finalists of the tournament will advance to the World Cup in New Delhi next year, and Japan needs to beat Malaysia by 10 goals on Monday to deny the hosts a spot in the semis.
Faizal Saari was the toast of the day, as the scored a hat-trick with a penalty corner, penalty stroke and field attempt.
"It was a hard-fought win, and now some of the pressure is off the team when they meet Japan. Team-work won the day, as there was good build-up from mid-field which resulted in three of the goals," said Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj.
The national juniors started with a bang when they scored two quick goals by the 13th minute, but their failure to increase the lead off sitters gave Korea a chance to make a come-back.
Faizal Saari almost tore the netting with a powerful penalty corner flick in the sixth minute, and the Koreans were shell-shocked into defending.
And Syamim Yusof made it 2-0 from an acute angle in the 13th minute, and the 3,500-odd supporters at the Bukit Serindit Stadium's roar was deafening.
However, Malaysia missed two sitters after that, while the Koreans closed the gap with a low penalty corner goal from skipper Yang Jihun in the 22nd minute and the score stood into the breather.
The Koreans looked more aggresive in attack after the breather, and Malaysian skipper Noor Faeez Ibrahim was flashed the yellow for arguing with umpire in the 37th minute.
However, Malaysia went on another attacking spree, and missed two more sitters to the dismay of the crowd.
But in the 41st minute, all the blunders were forgotten after a super build-up from midfield was completed with a reverse stick attempt by Amir Farid for a 3-1 lead.
And in the 45th minute, a try from Firhan Ashaari hit Lee Mookyoung's foot and a penalty stroke was awarded. Faizal steps up to the spot, and cooly slots in the fourth goal.
Korea again reduced he deficit when in the 48th minute, Jeong Youngseok scored a field goal.
The match was sealed in the 57th minute, when Faizal Saari nailed his hat-trick, and the Koreans were truly beaten at 5-2.
The Koreans again reduced the deficit, when in the 60th minute Yang Jihun sounded the board.
And the sixth goal for Malaysia was scored by Noor Faeez in the 67th minute to complete the rout.
Meanwhile, Japan struggled to beat Iran 3-1 in another Group A match yeterday.
Japan took the lead in the fifht minute through Yohei Mori whose reverse stick attempt sailed through a sea of legs and beat Iranian keeper Alireza Chazanisharahi.
But Navid Taherirad equalsied in the 16th minute and the match looked like it was heading for an upset.
Japan had a total of nine penalty corners and only the 50th minute attempt was tucked in by Hirotaka Zendana while Heita Yoshihara scored the third in the 56th.