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Hosts India dent Malaysia’s hopes

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian women’s hockey team’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals of the World League suffered a jolt when they lost 3-0 to hosts India at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Malaysia, who upset 20th ranked Russia 3-1 on Monday, have to win their remaining three matches in this round two of the meet if they harbour any hopes of making the cut for the semi-finals.

The World League was introduced last year for teams to qualify for next year’s World Cup. And the top two teams in the six-team competition will advance to the semi-finals.

Malaysia, ranked 22nd, will face Kazakshtan today before they meet minnows Fiji tomorrow.

Malaysia will wrap up the fixtures against favourites and ninth ranked Japan on Sunday.

In the match against 12th ranked India, the hosts, who are coached by Australian Neil Hawgood, took the lead in the ninth minute off a penalty corner converted by Vandana Katariya.

Three minutes after the breather, Vandana was on target again for the second goal.

Rani Kaur completed the rout with another field goal in the 68th minute.

National coach Mohd Nasihin Nubli was disappointed with his strikers’ poor finishing.

“We had more chances then India to score. We had three one-to-one situations in the match but our strikers failed to get it right.

“My players were frustrated after the match for missing several golden opportunities,” said Nasihin.

Nasihin said that his players played according to plan – absorb the attacks and then go for counter attacks.

“But they just could not score. We have one day break and will use it to sharpen our finishing. Despite the defeat, we still have a chance to qualify for the semi-finals but we must win the remaining three matches,” said Nasihin.

Malaysia should have any problems beating 33rd ranked Kazakhstan and 59th ranked Fiji but they will face a daunting task against Japan.

Malaysia whipped Kazakhstan 11-1 in the round one of the World League in Kuantan last September.

Malaysia have never met Fiji, who are the minnows in the tournament.

– THE STAR

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