FIH Men’s Series Finals: Italy causes a flutter, defeats Malaysia 4-2 to end pool
When Italians came to Kuala Lumpur early this month, no one gave them an outside chance of making it to the finals of the FIH Men’s Series Hockey Finals here. Ranked the lowest among participating teams, Italy not only defeated China (ranked 14th) but also shocked the hosts Malaysia (ranked 13th) to emerge the only unbeaten team in the pool matches so far.
At present Italy is ranked 32nd by the FIH. Disappointment was writ large on the faces of Malaysians as they were expected to win the last game hands down after an absorbing 4-4 draw with China yesterday. But today, Italy, turned tables on the Malaysians, thanks to a brace by Augustin Nunez besides goals from Thomas Keenan and Sior Francois.
Augustin not only scored a brilliant field goal but also converted a penalty corner to expose Malaysia’s vulnerability to penalty corners. Yesterday, China got all its four goals through penalty corners.Though Malaysia got both its goals against Italy from penalty corners – Faizal Sara 26th minute and Rahim Razia 35th minute, but its inability to contain the Italians may have raised question marks over the coach Roeland Oltmans’ training of the home team.
Malaysia finished behind Italy with just four points. It got better of China in final standings on goal average. Earlier China overcame stiff resistance from Brazil before winning 3-2.It was China’s first win the tournament. Now China and Malaysia from their pool along with Canada and Wales will take on each other in the playoffs to decide which of the two teams go to semis t play Italy and Austria. L. Su Yuan Lin and Dang Yeng scored for China against Brazil. Heijden van Der Yori and Joaquin Lopes were the scorers for South Americans.