Lucknow (11 Dec, 2016): Late-entry Malaysia scored a goal in each half to beat African continental champions Egypt 2-0 in the Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup Men, Lucknow 2016 at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium here on Sunday.
The win has certainly boosted Malaysia’s morale here after going through a rough patch (7-2 defeat) in Friday’s Group B opening encounter against the Netherlands as they prepare for the next wave against Belgium on Monday.
Jeroen Baart’s Belgium surprised all by carving a 3-2 victory over the Dutch in an earlier match, topped the group with six points and qualified for the Dec 14 quarterfinals from Group B. However, the Malaysians will need to beat the Belgians at all cost on Monday for any chance of moving into the last eight.
But that alone will not be enough as Malaysia must also hope of the Egyptians coming at full force to upset the Dutch tomorrow, which is wishful thinking going by the reputation of the former European junior champions.
The Malaysians started the match without Syed Mohamad Syafiq Syed Cholan who is recovering from a shin injury and will likely not go into action Belgium on Monday.
Egypt, who lost 4-0 to Belgium, got off on a fast pace and earned the first penalty corner in the 11th minute but were denied by the heroic effort of goalkeeper Muhammad Zaimi Mat Deris who was in his element despite the fog returning slowly into stadium making visibility or the lack of it, a major problem.
However, Manof the match, Zulhamizan Awang Abas shot Malaysia ahead two minutes later from open play after collecting a pass from Rafizul Ezry Mustafa outside the D and tapped the ball past goalkeeper Ahmed Ezzat while Abdul Khaliq Hamirin struck the final blow on the Egyptians with a 61st minute open play goal.
While the players did all the hard work on the field the victory over the Egyptians was well orchestrated by the best brains in the management team here with the arrival of Malaysian Hockey Confederation Technical Director Terry Walsh, National senior team coach Stephen van Huizen, national junior coach Wallace Tan, assistant coach Muhamad Amin Rahim and goalkeeper coach Mohd Nasihin Nubli Ibrahim as they put the pieces together to chart Egypt’s downfall.
Malaysia had only one penalty corner throughout the match while Egypt had two coming their way. But it was Wallace Tan’s juniors who had better control and ball possession compared to the Egyptians as the strolled to victory much to the cheers from the Indian fans who had always respected Malaysian hockey levels.
“It was a good and timely win for us today and we are happy. Belgium defeated Netherlands today as we have to go all out against the Belgians on Monday. The door for the quarterfinals is still open and there is every chance for us but we need to play a much better game,” said Wallace.
“We took off slowly and once we got going we kept moving forwards. Unfortunately we did miss a couple of chances otherwise the score would have been higher. Nevertheless, it was a good game and gave the players the confidence here,” he added.
Six-time champions Germany pounded Japan 6-1 to top Group C with nine points and qualified for the quarterfinals alongside India from Group D.