MALAYSIA qualified for the semi-finals of the Asian Champions Trophy with two matches in hand when they beat Japan 7-2 at the Kuantan Hockey Stadium Sunday.
It was a third straight victory for coach Stephen van Huizen's men as they had beaten defending champions Pakistan 4-2 and China 5-1 earlier.
In another match yesterday, India beat Pakistan 3-2 in a close encounter and with seven points after three matches, India are also mathematically in the semi-finals in this six-team tournament.
"We have achieved out first target which was to qualify for the semi-finals of the ACT. Japan defended well in the first quarter, but after Aiman cracked open their goalmouth, they had to move forward and that was when we got our chances to score more goals," said van Huizen.
And after this Malaysia will rest for two days before playing India on Wednesday and South Korea on Thursday.
"The rest will be used for recovery as well as tactical purposes. Both India and South Korea look like the teams to beat in this tournament and we need to play much better than we did in the previous three matches to win points," said van Huizen.
After making the semi-finals, Malaysia's next target should be topping the table at the end of the pool matches, as the No 1 team plays No 4, while the No 2 team plays No 3 in the semi-finals.
The crowd came by droves to watch Malaysia maul Japan, but the first quarter ended uneventful as the hosts failed to find a single penalty corner, and the goal which they scored was disallowed.
Japan, who had lost to India 10-2 and China 2-1, played a defensive game by camping in their own half and only opening up for counter attacks.
But they finally cracked in the 23rd minute, when Aiman Nik Rosemi shot home from close range.
The goal opened up the match, and with Japan chasing for the equaliser, they were hit with another world class deflection from Rashid Baharom in the 27th minute.
A long shot from Najmi Farizal, from the 25-yard line, saw Rashid deflecting it past goalkeeper Kunitomo Masahito for a 2-0 lead entering into the dressing room.
The other goals came easy with super efforts from Nabil Fiqri (33rd), Faizal Shaari (37th, 59th), Firhan Ashaari (44th) and Fitri Shaari (58th).
The Japan goals were scored by Kenji Kitazato (59th) and Kentaro Fukuda (60th).
RESULTS: India 3 Pakistan 2, Malaysia 7 Japan 2.
MONDAY: South Korea v China (6.30pm).
TUESDAY: Pakistan v Japan (6.30pm), India v China (8.30pm).
P W D L F A Pts
MALAYSIA 3 3 0 0 16 5 9
INDIA 3 2 1 0 14 5 7
PAKISTAN 3 1 0 2 5 7 3
CHINA 2 1 0 1 3 6 3
S. KOREA 2 0 1 1 1 2 1
JAPAN 3 0 0 3 5 19 0