Asia will be well represented at the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Finals in June and July of this year as Malaysia and China guaranteed themselves a spot in the next round of the global competition.
Not only does this mean that both teams will have the chance to qualify for the HWL Finals at the end of the year, but it also keeps their chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup very much alive.
It was action all the way at the Moulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium on the penultimate day of the HWL Round Two event in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The semi-finals saw Malaysia and China slam home five goals apiece to ensure they would be in the Finals, taking place on Sunday 11 March. Malaysia were the top-ranked side coming into the competition (World ranking: 13) but even so, the 5-0 demolition of Egypt showed that captain Sukri Mutalib and his men mean business.
Goals were shared among the Malaysian sharp-shooters, with Razie Rahim opening the scoring just prior to the end of the first quarter with a well-taken penalty corner. He was joined on the scoreboard by Fitri Saari, Tengku Ahmad, Shahril Saabah and Aiman Nik Rosemi. All Malaysia’s goalscorers during this encounter feature in the top 12 goalscorers for the tournament, demonstrating the depth of attacking ability in the side.
The second semi-final saw the prolific Du Talake score three goals – one penalty stroke and two penalty corners – taking his tournament tally to nine. China (WR: 18) raced to a 4-0 lead before Oman pulled one goal back in the final 10 minutes of play. Ashram Al Nasseri making the most of a rare defensive error from the Chinese.
The other Chinese goals came from Su Lixing and Guo Jin.
In the earlier matches to decide the lower order finishing places, Sri Lanka (WR:41) suffered a 9-0 thumping at the hands of the host nation. Bangladesh (WR: 32) scored in the opening minute of the match when Mamunur-Rahman Chayan struck from a penalty corner. Chayan scored a second halfway through the second quarter and was joined on the scoresheet by Milon Hossain (3), Mainul Islam Kowshiq, Arshad Hossain (2) and Rashel Mahmud. The result means Bangladesh will face Ghana in the play-off for fifth place.
And that match between Ghana (WR: 38) and Bangladesh has all the makings of a real goal fest as Ghana showed they know where the back of the net is as they demolished Fiji (WR: 44) 11-2. Jonny Botsio showed why he is so feared in front of goal as he struck five times, making himself leading goal scorer with one game to play. The other six goals were shared between Matthew Damalie, Shamrock Baah, Elikem Akaba, Godsway Balagi, Richard Adjei and Salya Nsalbini. Adrian Smith and Leevan Dutta scored for Fiji.
Malaysia and China will join the top two finishers from Belfast (11-19 Mar 2017) and Tacarigua, (25 Mar-2 Apr 2017) in qualifying for the Semi-Finals. They will be joined in the World Cup qualifier phase by the two highest ranked of the third placed finishers from those three events.
To learn more about how the teams progress through the competition in the hope of reaching the 2018 Hockey World Cups, click here, with more details about all of the HWL events available by clicking here.
You can keep track of the tournament in Dhaka on the official competition pages by clicking here and on FIH’s social media channels using the #HWL2017 hashtag.
Sunday 12 March Match Schedule
09:15 7 / 8: Sri Lanka v Fiji
11:30 5 / 6: Bangladesh v Ghana
13:45 3 / 4: Egypt v Oman
16:05 Final: Malaysia v China