KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 – A goal by Dato’ Seri Surinder Singh Dhaliwal in the final moments of the fourth quarter saw the Malaysian men’s 060 team pull off a 3-2 victory over Southern Cross SoM (Spirit of Masters) in the World Masters Hockey (WMH) Asian Championships 2023 at the Hong Kong Sports Club on Friday.
It was the second time the 60s Malaysian side, captained by Inderjit Tara, defeated the Australians with back-to-back wins. They had on Thursday won 5-3.
The Malaysians topped the standings with nine points and progressed to Sunday’s final for a showdown against Japan for the gold medal.
The Japanese had stunned Hong Kong with a 4-2 victory in the elimination round encounter.
The first quarter saw Southern Cross step up the intensity and Brett Picknell scored from a field goal four minutes into the game for a 1-0 lead.
Shamsul Abdullah, however, restored parity for his side in the 14th minute via a penalty corner conversion.
Sarjit Singh celebrated his 61st birthday with a penalty corner conversion in the 31st minute, extending the score to 2-1 – taking his personal goal tally to 10 in the tournament, but the Australians rallied back in the third quarter for the equalizer through Mark Brookefield’s penalty corner strike in the 50th minute.
The fourth quarter was much more open, but the Malaysians held their nerves and won a penalty corner in the 69th minute.
Dato Seri Surinder finished the game with a brilliant shot as he put the ball into the net.
While the 060s team went through a nail-biting finish, their 040s counterparts flayed Hong Kong SoM 8-1.
With the Malaysians and Hong Kong sharing nine equal points from three matches, Saturday’s crucial match between both teams is of academic interest only as they will square off once again in Sunday’s final.
Hairul Nizam and V. Vasandan scored a brace for the Malaysians while Keevan Raj, Iman Gobinathan, Khairuddin and Prabhu contributed apiece. Rizwan Hassan scored for Hong Kong SoM.
In another men’s 040s match, Singapore trounced Bangladesh 13-1 for their first win in four matches. The Singaporeans are third in the points standings.
As for the Malaysian men’s 050s team, call it divine intervention or Lady Luck on their side. They defeated South Korea 5-0 and with 5 points in the bag surprisingly found themselves galloping to third spot in the table standings – five behind leader Hong Kong and Switzerland SoM who have 10 points each.
Harcharanjit Sundar slammed a hat-trick (11th, 45th and 47th minutes), while Mohd Noor Saad (20th) and Sukhdev Singh (68th) scored a piece.
The Singaporeans are in fourth spot despite sharing five equal points with Malaysia, Japan hoover further down in fifth position (3 points) and South Korea at the bottom with zero points.
A simple margin win by the Malaysians over Japan in today’s last group match will catapult the Malaysians into Sunday’s final against Hong Kong as they would then have eight points.