New Zealand qualify for World Cup 2010 beating Malaysia
INVERCARGILL, New Zealand: New Zealand beat Malaysia 2-1 in the final of a six-nation qualifying tournament Sunday to win a spot at the 2010 men''s field hockey World Cup in India.
Hosts New Zealand, ranked No. 8 in the world, was unbeaten at the tournament but had to come from behind to beat 16th-ranked Malaysia in a close final.
Two goals by the hosts through penalty corners in the second half wiped out the early 1-0 lead Malaysia had in the first half.
Coach Tai Beng Hai''s boys could not hold on to the advantage garnered by Muhammad Razie Abd Rahim in the 18th minute off a penalty corner.
New Zealand came back stronger after the interval and equalised in the 57th minute through Andrew Hayward whose shot beat keeper S. Kumar.
The equaliser inspired the New Zealand players, dubbed the "Black Sticks", and Hayward clinched the winner three minutes later.
The Malaysian players could have scored in the second half, but failed to convert three penalty corners.
The victory enabled New Zealand to book their place in the 2010 World Cup finals scheduled to be held in New Delhi, India, from Feb 28 to March 13.
The international field hockey federation is holding three seeded qualifying tournaments, with a spot at the World Cup on offer for the winner of each. Four-time champions Pakistan beat Japan last week in France to advance. A third qualifying tournament is being held in Argentina.
India, Australia, Canada, England, Spain, Germany, South Korea, Netherlands and South Africa have already secured places at the 12-nation World Cup finals.
New Zealand had beaten Malaysia 4-2 in round-robin and finished the tournament with 30 goals and only six against. Malaysia''s only losses at the tournament were to New Zealand and it earned its final place with a 3-0 win over China.
This is the second time in a row that Malaysia have failed to make it to a World Cup finals, the first being in 2006.
Scotland, ranked No. 24, beat 13th-ranked China 7-5 in a penalty shootout Sunday to finish in third place while Austria beat Wales in a playoff for fifth.