Kiwis pip SA to enter quarters

Malaysia drub listless England

Kiwis pip SA to enter quarters

 New Zealand qualified for the quarterfinals from Pool D following a 1-0 victory over South Africa in Hero Hockey Junior World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Tuesday.

Three teams in the pool were in contention for the quarters after Malaysia made the cut on Sunday.

The pool toppers outplayed England 4-2 earlier in the day to win all their matches and left New Zealand and South Africa to battle it out for a spot in the last-eight.  The victory saw New Zealand finishing with four points against South Africa’s three.

An under pressure South African side failed to make their opportunities count. An open chance missed by Damian Kimfley in the fifth minute will hurt them. After a goalless first half, the Black Shirts converted a penalty corner in the 44th minute through Kane Russell and thwarted the desperate attempts from the South Africans for the equaliser to seal the issue.

Against England, the Malaysians exhibited good stick work and speed. They were superior in ball control and possession and put the England defence under pressure with short and precise passes.
Their attacking style ensured that most of the action in the first half took place in the English half.
After squandering two penalty corners, the diminutive Malaysians opened the account with their third attempt with Hashim Mohd Bin slotting home in the 15th minute. Firhan Ashari tightened their grip in the 26th minute with a fine goal. England pulled one back through a penalty corner which was converted by Luke Taylor (31st) and broke for the interval trailing 1-2.

But Malaysia extended their lead in the second half through Muhammad Bin Saabah (44th) and Fitri Saari (57th). England bridged the gap through another penalty corner conversion, this time through Phil Roper (65th).

The Malaysians have been impressive in the tournament and their talent was for all to see this day. The English looked clueless when Firhan sped into the striking circle and passed the ball to Azuan Hasan only to receive a back pass and score for a 2-0 lead.

England got some good scoring opportunities in the second half but could not convert. Malaysians, on the other hand, won hearts with their attractive hockey. Baharom gave finishing touches to a crafty move facilitated by Muhammad Bin Saabah following a defensive lapse. Captain midfielder Fitri Saari, already a regular in the senior side, impressed with his skills. The fourth goal was a spectacular solo that Saari finished in style with a firm reverse shot that beat goalkeeper Harry Gibson all ends up.

In the two Pool B matches, Argentina beat Spain 1-0 with Manuel Nicolas Sacchetti the solitary goal-scorer in the 46th minute while Australia drubbed France 2-0. 

 DH News Service

Results: Argentina: 1 (Manuel Nicolas Sacchetti 46th) bt Spain: 0.
Australia: 2 (Frank Main 37th, Cameron Joyce 52nd) bt France: 0.
Malaysia: 4 (Mohd Hashim Bin 15th, Firhan Ashari 26th, Muhammad Bin Baharom 44th, Fitri Saari 57th) bt England: 2 (Luke Taylor 31st, Phil Roper 65th).
New Zealand: 1 (Kane Russell 44th) bt South Africa: 0.

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