SLIM: Hosts down Japan to finish fifth and now wait for Continental championships to know their fateTHE national hockey team were held 1-1, then taken to a shoot-out, before they tamed Japan 4-3 to finish fifth in the World League Semi-finals at Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru yesterday.
And the fifth spot could prove to be priceless for the hosts as there is a huge possibility that it might turn into a World Cup ticket after the four Continental championships are over.
"It was by far the worst performance by Malaysia in this tournament, but in the end, the most important thing is that we finished as high as we could after being knocked out it the quarter-finals," said Malaysia's coach Paul Revington.
Revington, who had sent in a quit letter two weeks before the tournament started, did not want to comment on his future just yet.
"No comments. I will need some time to think about that and come back to you guys," said Revington.
Malaysia lived dangerously as they toyed around with the fifth placing before finally subduing the Japanese in the penalty shoot-out.
In the first half, Razie Rahim's penalty corner in the 10th minute saw Malaysia take the lead, but after that, it was a tale of missing sitters.
And Japan grew in confidence as Malaysia kept missing their chances, and nailed the equaliser off a confusing penalty corner set-piece in the 29th minute when Shinji Kawauchi got the last touch.
Malaysia played in patches in the second half and were lucky that Japan were not interested to attack but instead parked the bus and defended for at least 20 minutes and relied only on counter-attacks which never came.
And in the end, the match went into a shoot-out with Malaysia only failing to score one, when Faiz Helmi misjudged, while Japan's Kei Kawakami and Manabu Haatakeyaman missed to give Malaysia a 4-3 win.
In the seventh-eight placing match Pakistan beat South Africa 6-2.
And now coach Akhtar Rasool and his men want to forget the painful episode in Johor Baru and prepare for the Asia Cup in Ipoh.
"We played well in almost all the matches but were unlucky, especially against Malaysia in the fifth-eighth match. We had more opportunities and played much better than Malaysia, but the goals never came," said Akhtar.
And if they miss the boat in the Asia Cup, Pakistan will sit out of the World Cup for the first time since they made their debut in 1971.
RESULTS -- Seventh-Eighth: South Africa 2 Pakistan 6; Fifth-Sixth: Japan 1 Malaysia 1 (Malaysia win shoot-out 4-3); Third-Fourth: South Africa 1 England 2; Final: Argentina 2 Germany 4.
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