* Malaysia can still make it in the playoffs
Malaysia have chosen the hard way to keep their Olympic dreams alive after suffering a heartbreaking 3-2 to India in the quarter-finals in the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in Antwerp on Wednesday (Thursday morning in Malaysia).
The defeat means Malaysia will now have to beat France on Friday in the playoff for 5th to 8th place to keep their Olympics hopes alive.
Team manager Stephen van Huizen was quick to admit that Malaysia paid a high price for their poor defending when they had the upper hand after a dream start – leading 2-1 by the 23rd minute to cancel India’s third minute goal by Satbir Singh.
Malaysia were on level terms by the 15th minute when skipper Razie Rahim scored from a penalty corner set piece. Shahril Saabah put the Malaysians in front on 23 minutes.
India, who have already qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics after winning the Asian Games gold medal in Incheon, pulled no quarter-finals in the match and Jasjit Singh Kular, 23 made it 2-2 from a penalty corner on 48 minutes.
The equaliser took the fight out of the gritty Malaysians and it was Jasjit again on the scoresheet – again from a penalty corner set piece. This came in the 55th minute to give India a 3-2 lead and it it turned out to be the winner.
“We have to regain our composure to play France and look forward to the playoff with confidence. I must admit that the defeat to India is a shattering blow to our Olympic campaign,” said Stephen.
In the semi-finals on Friday, India will take on hosts Belgium while world champions Australia will face Great Britain. Australia beat Ireland 4-1 while Britain stopped Pakistan 2-1 in their quarter-final matches.