Muscat — “This is a new history for us,” proclaimed Kamarulzaman Kamaruddin after Malaysia slumped to the ground in utter delight at reaching the inaugural Hockey5s World Cup final.
The Speedy Tigers edged Poland 4-3 in a semi-final which got better with every passing minute, before Malaysian keeper Shahrul Saupi swatted away one last one on one ‘challenge’ to take the game to a shoot-out.
Kamaruddin, who scored his side’s second goal, said: “Malaysian people will be proud of us. We have had a lot of training and we have gone hard at this tournament and we hope we can get something in the final.”
Malaysia looked to be heading towards the final with some ease and six minutes left on the clock when dangerman Akhimullah Anuar scored two in two minutes to give the Speedy Tigers a 4-1 cushion.
But Poland had other ideas as they pulled two goals back in the closing minutes and then found themselves with a last-gasp challenge with the clock having run down.
The clash of Saupi’s stick tackle then signalled the end as Poland failed to score for the second game running with the last play of the game. They will slug it out with Oman for bronze.
“For my team we have learned with every game as it’s so new. Winning Hockey5s will be our greatest moment.”
It would indeed be some achievement should Malaysia men, who last qualified for the Olympics in 2000, beat the Dutch, albeit in a new, shortened format of the game.
The Malaysians last year made history when they won the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup for the first time.
Three of the five goals notched in Malaysia’s semi-final win were scored by players who had won gold at the Youth Olympics.
Emotional scenes as Malaysia qualify for the final of the FIH #Hockey5s World Cup 2024.
📱 Watch them play Netherlands in the final on the https://t.co/fwIh0CuE2F App.
📆 31 Jan 2024
⏰ 20:20 hrs Local time pic.twitter.com/XMxxmrjHZu
— International Hockey Federation (@FIH_Hockey) January 30, 2024