Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Malaysia men set up Hockey5s World Cup final with Dutch

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.

They will face the Netherlands in Wednesday’s final and will now hope to turn 2018 Youth Olympics gold – where 5s was first presented globally – into a World Cup first.

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.

Malaysia celebrate at final whistle PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS RODRIGO JARALILLO

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.

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