Quilmes - Malaysia booked a place in Saturday’s semi-finals of the Champions Challenge here in Argentina when they beat the inexperienced South Africa men’s hockey team 4-1 in
the first quarter-final of the tournament on Thursday.
The defeat means that, at best, South Africa can finish fifth, provided they
win their last two playoff games, the first being at 13:30 on Saturday
against Japan or South Korea, who face-off in their last-eight tie later
The most experienced team in Quilmes by far, the Malaysian Tigers boast an
average 150 Test matches per player despite their average being just 25, while
South Africa - by far the most inexperienced team at the tournament - can only
muster an average 35 Tests per player despite the average age of 24 being just
one less than the Malaysians.
Group A winners Malaysia started with a bang when Ahmad Tajuddin breached the
goalline after a fast-paced counter-attack a mere three minutes into the match.
The opening quarter also saw the Tigers earn three
penalty corners that weren’t converted. Leading into half-time, SA had their
best period of the match, creating problems for Malaysia’s defence, but striker
Miguel da Graca let slip a great chance to equalise when he only had keeper
Kumar Subramiam to beat.
The Tigers made the perfect start to the second half when Faizal Saari
nailed home a penalty corner drag-flick three minutes after the changeover
before Abdul Jalil had a double chance - the first blocked and the second
fizzing over the crossbar.
Heading towards the final quarter of the match, South Africa’s Matthew
Guise-Brown, playing in just his fourth international, suffered the
disappointment of seeing his penalty corner drag-flick scrape the wrong side of
The match was effectively sealed off in the 57th minute when first
the irrepressible Jalil made it 3-1 with a super deflection goal off a penalty
corner before Saari added Malaysia’s fourth in emphatic fashion from field play
not even 60 seconds later.
SA captain Austin Smith scored via a penalty corner drag-flick with seven
minutes left to narrow the goal margin to 4-1.
Owen Mvimbi brought out a top save from 'keeper Subramiam, who dived to his
right and turned the ball past the outside of the post as pressure in the dying
minutes was successfully absorbed by the Malaysian defence.
In the other quarters Japan (second in Group B) face South Korea (third in
Group A), Poland (second in Group A) meet Ireland (third in Group B) and
Argentina (first in Group B) are up against Canada (fourth in Group A).