KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia may have kissed the Rio Olympics goodbye after ending their Hockey World League (HWL) Semifinal campaign in sixth spot after losing 1-4 to Ireland in a 5th/6th classification match at the KHC Dragons Stadium in Antwerp, Belgium Sunday night.
With the 1-4 loss to Ireland, the same team which Malaysia had beaten 4-2 in their Group match, coach Tai Beng Hai’s boys could miss the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil since it was the second chance for them after having lost an automatic spot due to the 2-3 defeat to India in the quarterfinals.
In tonight’s match, Malaysia were trailing Ireland 0-2 by the eighth minute of the first quarter when Kyle Good and Peter Caruth scored in the 5th and 8th minutes.
Though there were no goals in the second quarter, Ireland continued their scoring act in the third quarter when Alan Sothern made it 3-0 in the 40th minute.
After a series of near misses, including from penalty corners, Faiz Helmi Jali managed to reduce the deficit in the 55th minute but Ireland restored the three goal advantage through Michael Darling’s 59th minute strike.
Last month, Holland, Germany and Argentina had booked their automatic tickets to Rio while Canada who finished fourth in the other HWL Semifinal hosted by Argentina, finished on top of the reserve list.
Spain and New Zealand finished in fifth and sixth spots, respectively.
The only probability for Malaysia to be on the flight to Brazil is to expect Australia or New Zealand to win the Oceania Cup, Argentina or Canada to emerge champion in the Pan American tournament; Germany, Holland, Great Britain or Belgium to emerge European champion and the South Africa Sports Confederation and Olympic Council (Sascoc) stick to its decision to not participate.
Sascoc had said the South African contingent winner would not compete in Rio, meaning two spots will be available and Malaysia may be in with a chance.
Malaysia who lost a golden opportunity at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea by losing to India in the final (gold medal winner earns automatic spot to Olympics), the boys were hoping to make it to the Olympics after a 15-year lapse, by finishing at least fourth in the HWL in Belgium.
Now Malaysia will have to play the waiting game. – Bernama