Lucknow (14 December, 2016): Two late goals in the second half resulted in the Malaysian Juniors 3-1 defeat against New Zealand in the 9-12th classification match of the Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup Men, Lucknow 2016 on Wednesday.
Wallace Tan’s juniors, who received a last minute invitation from the International Hockey Federation as replacement for Pakistan, are now resigned to playing against Cedric d’Souza Austria in the 11-12th positions on Saturday (17 Dec) in this 16-team Junior World Cup.
The Austrians lost 4-2 against South Africa in an earlier match. It will be the first meeting between Malaysia and Austria since the tournament was first held in 1979 – some 37 years ago.
Oliver Logan took 13 minutes to break the deadlock for New Zealand with a penalty corner goal but the Malaysians fought hard and well for the equaliser in the 28th minute as drag-flick specialist Muhammad Firdaus Omar packed the ball to the left post past goalkeeper Thomas Mallon.
But the Kiwis took great advantage when the Malaysians were reduced to playing with nine players for a brief moment after team captain Muhammad Najib Hassan and Muhammad Amirol Aideed Arshad were sent to the sin bin. Robbie Capizzi doubled the advantage with a field goal in the 56th minute and Sam Lane made it 3-1 from a penalty corner three minutes later to see the junior Black Sticks through to the next stage.
New Zealand arrived here a transformed side – far from the team that performed poorly in the Sultan of Johor Cup just five weeks ago in Johor Baru. They lost to the Malaysians 2-1 in a round-robin league match and 4-2 in the fifth sixth classification.
“We played well in the first 30 minutes and held New Zealand back but lost our focus for a brief moment in the second half and that was when they scored the goals. It was a mistake that should never have happened,” said team captain Najib, who certainly looking agitated by this defeat.
“Playing New Zealand has always been tough. They are a very strong side. We just could not make many breakthroughs to find the goals. They had almost eight players parked in the D when we mounted each attack,” he said.
South Africa, who finished runners-up to Egypt in the final of the African Junior Continental championships, has been making waves here with a new spirit in the team following a 3-1 win over Canada, lost 4-2 against England and 2-1 to India respectively in pool D preliminary round matches.
And for the first time in the history of the Junior World Cup, the South Africans will battle in the 9-10th position match against New Zealand on Saturday.
The Austrians, who missed out on a chance of qualifying for the quarterfinals on goal difference against Argentina in Pool A, are eagerly waiting for the Malaysians in the 11-12th placing match.
As Austrian coach Cedric observed: “This team has been playing well in the pool stage and I am very happy with the performance of the players in Lucknow. The Junior World Cup is just a platform in our preparation towards the 2020 Olympics.
“We have been observing the Malaysians. They are very skilful, have great speed and it will be a very tough match. There is no doubt we have to be very careful of Malaysia’s quick attacks as there are a dangerous side.”