The suspense in Pool D came to an end with an under-prepared New Zealand surprising South Africa 1-0 and advancing to the quarterfinals of the Junior World Cup hockey tournament at the National Stadium here on Monday.
It was a fine achievement by the junior Black Sticks, who had flown in for the event with less than two weeks of preparation and started off with a loss and a draw. It collected four points to qualify as the second side from the pool.
The first half was a story of cautious approach and missed opportunities, including several short corners. After 35 minutes of goalless action, Kane Russell put New Zealand ahead in the 44th minute by shooting to the left of goalkeeper Richard Curtis from his team’s third penalty corner. New Zealand held on to the slender lead till the end.
Malaysia, which had already booked a place in the last eight, defeated a lethargic England 4-2 to keep its slate clean and end up at the peak of Pool D.
The reigning junior Asian champion showed excellent positioning and passing to outwit England. Mohammad bin Hashim’s low and fast drag-flick opened the scoring in the 15th minute and Firhan Ashari slotted in the second goal as the English defence struggled to cope with the rival attack.
Luke Taylor’s penalty corner conversion reduced the margin before the break. But the Malaysians came back with renewed vigour to slam in two more goals.
England pulled one back in the dying minutes, but it was too late. It managed just one point.
“Such victories will prove our players’ worth to the world,” said Malaysian coach Muhammad Dhaarma Raj.
Australia overcame a tough challenge from France to register a 2-0 victory through second-half goals and top Pool B with nine points.
France was the other team from the pool to reach the last eight.
Argentina beat Spain 1-0 and redeemed some pride by earning three points. However, the South Americans failed to finish within the top eight in three decades.
Pool B: Argentina 1 (Manuel Nicolas Sacchetti 46) bt Spain 0; Australia 2 (Frank Main 37, Cameron Joyce 52) bt France 0.
Pool D: Malaysia 4 (Mohammad bin Hashim 15, Firhan Ashari 26, Muhammad bin Baharom 44, Fitri Saari 57) bt England 2 (Luke Taylor 31, Phil Roper 65); New Zealand 1 (Kane Russell 44) bt South Africa 0.
Keywords: Junior World Cup hockey tournament