Kuala Lumpur (19 January, 2017): Malaysia firmly booked a place in Saturday’s semi-finals and a step closer to qualifying for the World League round 3 following a 3-0 win over Thailand at the Tun Razak Stadium today.
Malaysia Tigress head coach. K. Dharmaraj’s biggest fears of the Thais ‘parking the bus’ were realised early in the game as they struggled to get past a defensive Thailand adamant on giving the toughest of times to the host in this quarterfinal match.
Ireland meets Wales in the first semi-final encounter whilst the world 21-ranked Malaysians will take on World No 15 Italy in the second match.
After a scoreless first half, Tigress team captain Siti Noor Amarina Ruhaini lifted the spirit in the Malaysian camp with a 38th minute penalty corner goal after two failed attempts and with four minutes remaining of the match, Norazlin Sumantri unleased a powerful shot past goalkeeper Siraya Yimkrajang to confirm Malaysia’s entry into the semi-finals.
And drag-flick specialist Nuraini Rashid made it a memorable night for the fans here with a penalty corner strike in the last few seconds of the match.
The Thais, ranked 31 in the world, took the game to their more illustrious Malaysian opponents in a highly entertaining match and had a real good chance in the 19th minute but Tikhamporn Sakunpithal shot wide from the only penalty corner earned in the match.
Tournament favourites Italy did not lift their foot off the pedal en route to a 7-0 victory against Hong Kong in the quarter-finals.
The Italians got off to the best of starts against Hong Kong as Valentina Braconi scored a brace with field goals in the second and 11th minutes before returning in the 56th minute to notch her hat-trick.
Hong Kong tried their best to get back into the match but Italy’s structure and attacking flair did not falter throughout. The Italians continued to stay on top in the second half with goals from Francesca Bendinelli, Dalila Mirabella, team captain Chiara Tiddi and Eugenia Mastronardi.
Ireland, ranked world No16, also confidently strolled into the semi-finals with an emphatic 10-0 win over Singapore. The Irish had on Tuesday carved the same margin of victory against Hong Kong in their final Pool B match.
The Green Army dominated possession but found it rather difficult to cracked more breakthroughs as the Singaporeans had packed the entire team in front of the goalmouth at every opportunity the Irish had in scoring.
It took the brilliance of Naomi Carroll to score the first goal in the 7th minute, Rebecca Barry doubles the lead off a penalty corner one minute to the end of the quarter and Anna O’Flanagan scores the third in the 22nd minute from an impressive field goal.
However, double strikes from Roisin Uptown – her third international goals, via penalty corners (23rd and 25th minutes) gave the Irish an easy 5-0 lead moving into the third quarter.
The flood gates open further in the second half as both Anna and Roisin produced another round of patience performance to score penalty corner and field goals. It was Anna’s 10th goal in the tournament and Roisin’s 50th international goal which puts the duo amongst Ireland’s top goal scorers of the tournament so far.
Nicola Daly and team captain Kathryn Mullan rounded up the day with two field goals.
Speaking after today’s victory, head coach Graham Shaw, said: “Today was all about getting the result.
It’s very difficult to play hockey against a team with all 11 players inside the circle. We’re looking forward to the semi-final now.”
In the last quarterfinals match of the day, Wales survived a late charge from Kazakhstan to prevail 2-1 winners.
Joanne Westwood fired Wales ahead in the 19th minute via a penalty corner but the Kazaks, who lost 13-1 to Malaysia in a Pool B match on Tuesday, equalised through Syambat Sabazova’s penalty corner in the 41sr minute.
As the match headed into a shootout with four minutes remaining before the buzzer, Wales dug deep into its reserves to earn a penalty corner and Leah Wilkinson made sure of victory and a place in the semi-finals.
Singapore, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and Thailand are now reduced to featuring in the 5-8th classification matches on Friday. The Singaporeans go head to head against Kazakhstan and Hong Kong plays Thailand.
Results – Quarterfinals: Malaysia 3 Thailand 0; Ireland 10 Singapore 0; Italy 7 Hong Kong 0; Wales 2 Kazakhstan 1
Friday (20 January, 2017) – 5-8th Placing: Hong Kong v Thailand (6.15pm); Kazakhstan v Singapore (8.30pm)
Saturday (21 January, 2017) – Semi-finals: Ireland v Wales (6.15pm); Malaysia v Italy (8.30pm).