Malaysia’s stunning performance secured a memorable 3-2 victory over New Zealand and finished second in Pool C of the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup today.
Faizal Saari emerged as the hero with two field goals, including a late winner four minutes from time. The 32-year had given Malaysia the lead in the ninth minute.
With the lead in hand, Malaysia continued to pressure their opponents with continuous forays into their semi-circle, but the penalty corners they earned were off the mark.
That was until at their sixth attempt, Muhammad Razie Abd Rahim finally managed to sneak his shot past Dominic Dixon in the New Zealand goal in the 42nd minute.
What was supposed to be a comfortable two-goal lead soon came under attack as the New Zealanders turned up the heat. They capitalised with a quickfire two goals to draw level.
Hayden Phillips bagged a field goal in the 51st minute and a minute later Sam Lane converted a penalty corner to level the score and stun the Malaysians. Had the scooter remained, New Zealand would have finished second in the group.
It was a tense final eight minutes before Faizal slotted the winner in the 56th minute to give the Malaysians the win against the ninth-ranked New Zealanders.
“I feel great. We won today because the team gave 100 percent commitment and it was a good performance to get us into the crossover stage. For now, we will enjoy this moment, and tomorrow we start focusing on the crossover match,” said Faizal.
The victory meant Malaysia ended the preliminary round in the second spot in Pool C behind the Netherlands and will now face the third-placed team from Pool D in the crossover playoff match for a spot in the quarterfinals.
At the same time, the Dutch earn the automatic slot as group winners.
Pool D currently remains open with England on top ahead of hosts India as Spain occupy the third spot with Wales in fourth. India play Wales while England face Spain next.