* Malaysia keep their Rio Olympics hopes alive
* Ireland stands in the way for a fifth place finish
Malaysia gave a disciplined and committed display of hockey for a convincing 4-1 win over France in the 5th -8th playoff match in the Hockey World League Semi-Finals at the KHC Dragons Stadium in Antwerp, Belgium on Friday.
While the French were left in tears on a hot and humid afternoon, Malaysia skipper Razie Rahim, in a live interview on television after the match said: “It was a very important match for us (Malaysia) after we failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
“We needed to beat France to keep our slim hopes alive and we gave a committed and disciplined performance following the defeat to India (3-2) in the quarter-finals,” said Razie.
Malaysia were a goal down after 17 minutes came back with vengeance immediately to equalise through Haziq Shamsul after Jean-Laurent Kieffer opened scoring for France.
With veteran goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin playing an inspiring role between the posts, the Malaysians fought back gallantly after – driven by their Olympic desire. Malaysia last played in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Meor Azuan gave Malaysia the lead they deserved when he deflected a shot into the France goal and 10 minutes later Faizal Saari put Malaysia in the driving seat from a penalty-corner set piece.
Faizal also had a hand in Malaysia’s fourth goal in the 57th minute when he earned a penalty stroke after France goalkeeper Martin Zylbermann brought him down inside the D and was duly sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.
Razie made no mistake from the spot to finalise the score 4-1 in Malaysia’s favour.
Malaysia will face Ireland for the second time in Antwerp. In a Group B encounter Malaysia defeated Ireland 4-2. On Friday, Ireland defeated Pakistan 1-0 in the the playoff match.
RESULTS 5th-8th playoff
Malaysia 4 France 1
Ireland 1 Pakistan 0