Kuala Lumpur (17 January, 2017): Malaysia Tigress triumphed 13-1 over Kazakhstan whilst Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand were subdued by European opponents in the final pool matches in the Women Hockey World League Round 2 at the Tun Razak Stadium on Tuesday.
The Malaysians scored their biggest victory here after posting a 9-0 win over Hong Kong in last week’s opening Pool B tie. The only blemish in the host nation’s record was the 2-1 defeat to Ireland, ranked world No 16.
The Thais went down 3-0 to Wales yesterday and Singapore crumbled 9-0 against Italy in Pool A matches whilst Hong Kong could do little to stop the Irish scoring machinery from registering a 10-0 victory.
Dharmaraj’s Malaysia Tigress will now play Thailand in Thursday’s quarterfinals while Ireland takes on Singapore, Italy entertains Hong Kong and Wales meets Kazakhstan.
Nurul Nabihah Mansur showed great skills before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Guzal Bakhavaddin in the fifth minute to give the Tigress an early lead but Kazakhstan surprised fans with the equaliser three minutes later.
It all started when Irina Dobrioglo flicked the ball high but was poorly intercepted by Malaysian captain and defender Siti Noor Amarina Ruhaini just outside the circle. An unmarked Vera Domashneva picked it well, raced towards the goalmouth and blasted the ball past the on-rushing goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya. It was Kazakhstan’s first field attempt in the tournament.
The Tigress, however, recovered quickly from the blunder and shock, regrouped and went on to pulverise their opponent with 12 more goals – five of which were scored through penalty corners. Fatin Shafika Mohd Sukri notched a hat-trick, Nuraslinda Said and Fazilla Sylvester netted a double whilst Noor Hasliza Md Ali, Nuraini Rashid, Norazlin Sumantri, Hanis Nadiah Onn and Norfaiezah Md Saiuti scored a piece.
The Italians once again lived up to their FIH Hero Ranking of 15 en route to a 9-0 victory over a hapless Singapore in a Pool A match. Italy topped the pool on nine points followed by Wales (6), Thailand (3) while Singapore sit at the bottom with no points from three matches.
In Pool B, Ireland amassed 9 points from three consecutive wins, Malaysia second on six, Kazakhstan finished third (2) and Hong Kong last (1 point).
Agata Wybieralska converted a penalty corner in the 17th minute and team captain Chiara Tiddi increased the advantage for Italy in similar fashion three minutes later whilst Eugenia Mastronardi struck the third goal from open play in the 26th minute as the Italians took a comfortable 3-0 lead into the interval.
The quick goals also punctuated any hopes of the Singaporeans had in making a comeback in the tournament following earlier defeats against Thailand (0-4) and Wales (0-7).
The Italians continued to mesmerise the Singaporeans in the second half as Valentina Braconi scored a hat-trick (40th, 44th and 59th minutes) and Agata picked her second goal of the day via a penalty corner whilst Dalila Mirabella together with Maria Garraffo added to the Singaporeans woes.
“It’s been a great finish for us in the pool matches. We arrived with a positive target of finishing top of the standings and now that we have achieved that aspect we look forward to the quarterfinals against Hong Kong,” said Italy’s captain Chiara.
Wales and Thailand struggled for the goals in the first half though it was the Welsh who dominated the game with six unconverted penalty corners.
The deadlock was broken when Natalie Blyth shot past Thailand goalkeeper Siraya Yimkrajang in the 28th minute from a penalty corner to give Wales the vital lead.
There was more fluidity in the Welsh game in the second half as they practically camped inside Thailand’s goal-scoring territory for long moments but could not find the space to put the ball into the net as the Thais were frantically busy holding their own fort with great tenacity, more often throwing themselves in front of the ball.
Beth Bingham and Eloise Laity, however, dealt with it with a penalty corner and field goal in the 51st and 52nd minutes respectively to give Wales their second consecutive win here and a showdown against Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals.
“We are, without any doubt, happy with this second win after going through some tough moments picking the first goal against Thailand. Our aim is to finish high up in the pool and this has got the players all drilled up for the quarterfinals,” said Wales head coach Kevin Johnson.
Ireland’s Green Army also settled fittingly well against Hong Kong – to end their preliminary round with a bright finish by claiming a 10-0 victory after a sloppy start that saw them take a 1-0 lead through Roison Uptown’s penalty corner in the 18th minute.
Hong Kong could not find the answers to Ireland’s open and attacking game before falling apart in the second half. Kathryn Mullan and Anna O’Flanagan had double strikes whilst Chloe Watkins, Rebecca Barry, Gillian Pinder, Nicola Evans and Nicola Daly duly added their names on the score list.
RESULTS – Group A: Italy 9 Singapore 0; Wales 3 Thailand 0.
Group B: Malaysia 13 Kazakhstan 1; Ireland 10 Hong Kong 0.
Fixtures – Quarter-finals (Thursday, 19 Jan, 2017): Ireland v Singapore (1.45pm); Italy v Hong Kong (4.0pm); Wales v Kazakhstan (6.15pm); Malaysia v Thailand (8.30pm).