KUALA LUMPUR, July 20 (Bernama) --The dream of the Malaysian men’s and women’s teams to qualify for the Indoor Hockey World Cup for the first time was dashed by mighty Kazakhstan.
The men’s squad missed the berth to the 2021 World Cup after a narrow defeat of 4-3 to Kazakhstan in the semifinals, while the ladies were edged 2-1 by the same nation at the 2019 Asia Cup at Chonburi, Thailand.
In the men’s semifinals, Malaysia started well for a two-goal advantage through fourth minute goals from Muhamad Aminudin Mohd Zain and Mohd Shafiq Yaakob, before the two-time runners-up Kazakhstan reduced the deficit through Yermek Tashkeyev in the 16th minute.
In the second half, Malaysia again had a head start as Muhammad Firdaus Omar netted a penalty corner in the 22nd minute, but Kazakhstan came back through two penalty corners from Daulet Urmanov in the 27th and 30th minute, before taking the lead through Yermek four minutes later.
Four-time runners-up Malaysia had a golden chance to net an equaliser in stoppage time to drag the match into a penalty shootout but failed to capitalise on it, hence they are set to face Uzbekistan in the third/fourth playoff tomorrow.
Uzbekistan were whipped 9-1 by six-time reigning champions Iran in the other semifinal.
Earlier, in the women’s last-four stage, defending champions Kazakhstan started off through a field goal by captain Natalya Gataulina in the sixth minute to top the scorers’ list with nine goals so far.
In the second half, Kazakhstan, who are in the hunt for their sixth title, increased the margin through Vera Domashneva in the 22nd minute, while Malaysia managed to reduce the deficit 10 minutes later through Ellya Amanina Ellias.
“We went all out today, only that we failed to capitalise on the many chances. But I’m impressed by the spirit of the players, who are mostly under 20 years. If we have a good programme for the next edition, I am confident we can do better,” women's team coach Yahya Atan told the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF).
Malaysia, the 2017 runners-up, will next face Uzbekistan in the third/fourth place playoff tomorrow. Uzbekistan lost 5-3 to hosts Thailand.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) had earlier said the finalists of men’s category and only the champions of the women’s category will earn the 2021 World Cup ticket, but today clarified that only the champions will earn qualification to the world meet.