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Malaysia beat South Africa, need a draw to reach semis

Written by: Staff
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Melbourne, Mar 21 (UNI) Malaysia survived a scare before coming from behind to beat South Africa 2-1 to record their second win in the men's hockey competition of the Commonwealth Games here today.

Ian Symonds gave South Africa the lead in the 26th minute when he converted a penalty corner. It took Malaysia 19 minutes to draw parity through Logan Raj (45th) and then Chua Boon Huat (47th) scored the winner for them.

A draw in their last league match against Pakistan will now be enough for both the teams to reach the semi-finals but then Malaysian will be meeting Olympic champions Australia in the semifinals.

The Aussies are looking as dangerous as ever and have won all their three matches to date, scoring 15 and conceding just two goals in their three matches.

The defending champions are set to top Group A which means in the semifinals, they will take on the runners-up in Group B -- be it Malaysia, Pakistan or even India.

Malaysia and Pakistan both have seven points but the latter head the group because of a superior goal difference.

Both India and South Africa, who play tomorrow, have four points each and victory for either one of them will give them seven points and goal differences may come into play unless Malaysia and Pakistan draw their match.

Malaysia and Pakistan will certainly want to avoid meeting Australia in the semifinals as either England or New Zealand offer an easier path to the final.

''We are confident ahead of the Pakistan match. We used to have a phobia playing them but now we see them as our equals,'' said Malaysian skipper S Kuhan.

''We may have been a little sluggish against South Africa but once we started moving, we took control of the match. Our coach (Wallace Tan) made a tactical switch when he replaced our two forwards and the move paid dividends as we scored twice in two minutes,'' he explained.

''South Africa are actually harder to play against than India and I'm quite pleased that we already have one foot in the semifinals,'' he added.

Wallace was a visibly happy man after the match.

''We were not considered medal hopefuls by many but we are now closer to the semifinals,'' he said.

''Our group is actually quite open but our fate is in our hands.

Although a point will be enough to guarantee us a place in the semifinals, it would be foolish to play for a draw,'' he said.

UNI HSB AY VC1330

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