KUALA LUMPUR: Host Malaysia’s hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals of the men’s hockey Junior World Cup (JWC) suffered a major setback after suffering a 0-4 defeat to defending champions Argentina at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil last night.
The defeat means Malaysia must beat Australia on Friday to have any chance of making it to the quarterfinals from Group A since Argentina with six points have already secured their spot in the quarterfinals and only one more spot is available (only the top two teams from each group qualify for the quarterfinals).
The Young Tigers had started their JWC campaign on a positive note by whipping Chile 7-1 yesterday but the defeat today means even a draw against Australia will not be enough to advance to the knockout stage.
Malaysia and Australia have three points each but Australia, who lost 0-1 to Argentina yesterday, beat Chile 7-1 to revive its chances due to a better goal difference compared to Malaysia.
Australia have scored seven goals and conceded two while Malaysia have scored seven and conceded five.
In today’s match which was delayed by 15 minutes due to heavy rain since noon, the Young Tigers had their fair share of chances in the match after forcing four penalty corners but were not able to convert any while the Argentinians scored two goals in the first half although they were not able to earn any penalty corners.
The match was evenly contested in the first quarter and on the 18-minute mark, Muhamad Amin Rahim’s boys had a good chance of scoring but Alfarico Lance Liau Jr’s attempt was saved by Agustin Magdakena in goal.
That missed chance proved costly as Argentina took the lead in the 20th minute through Bautista Capurro who struck from a tight angle.
After the goal, Malaysia were temporarily reduced to 10-man when Shafiq Ikhmal Daniel Suzaini was sent to the “sin-bin” to serve a two-minute penalty after receiving a green card from the umpire and Argentina fully capitalised on the situation to score their second goal in the 28th minute through Marco Aguirregomezcorta.
The start of the third quarter saw Malaysia pushing forward in search of goals but despite creating several chances, the Young Tigers could not apply the finishing touches but Argentina who earned their very first penalty corner of the match, made it count through their skipper Inaki Minadeo to make it 3-0 in the 44th minute.
With the match already slipping away from the Young Tigers, Juan Fernandez struck a field goal in the 48th minute to pile on the misery for the home fans who braved the rain to be at the terraces.
Earlier, Australia, the losing finalist in the previous edition, whipped Chile 7-1 to revive their chances after losing 0-1 to Argentina yesterday.
Muhamad Amin said the Young Tigers were able to match their opponents and provide a tough challenge at the beginning but could not sustain their physical level throughout the 60 minutes and lost focus after conceding two goals.
“In the first quarter, we were able to match them but could not maintain the fitness level throughout the match. We also failed to take advantage of the penalty corners awarded.
“The morale of the players was down after conceding a goal, by right we should have fought back to equalise but in our haste to find the equaliser, we gave more room for our opponent to score. We now have to win at all costs on Friday to advance,” he said after the match.