Johannesburg – South Africa's men's hockey team has been beaten 4-1 by Malaysia in the quarterfinals of the Champions Challenge tournament in Quilmes, Argentina, on Thursday.
South Africa as a result can finish a best of fifth provided they win their last two play-off games, the first being on Saturday against either Japan or South Korea.
Malaysia started with a bang against the South Africans and Ahmad Tajuddin breached the goalline after a fast-paced counter-attack three minutes into the match.
The opening quarter also saw the Tigers earn three penalty corners that were not converted before South Africa had their best period of the match leading into half-time, creating problems for Malaysia’s defenders.
Striker Miguel da Graca missed a great chance to equalise when he only had keeper Kumar Subramiam to beat.
The Tigers made the perfect start to the second half when Faizal Saari nailed home a penalty corner drag-flick three minutes after the changeover.
Then Abdul Jalil was presented with a double chance - the first blocked and the second fizzing over the crossbar.
Heading towards the final quarter of the match, South Africa’s Matthew Guise-Brown, playing in his fourth international, saw his penalty corner drag-flick scrape the wrong side of the crossbar.
The match was effectively sealed off in the 57th minute when Jalil made it 3-1 with a deflection goal off a penalty corner before Saari added Malaysia’s fourth 60 seconds later.
South African captain Austin Smith scored via a penalty corner drag-flick with seven minutes left to narrow the goal margin to 4-1.
Owen Mvimbi brought out a top save from keeper K. Subramiam, who dived to his right and turned the ball past the outside of the post as pressure in the dying minutes was successfully absorbed by the Malaysian defence.
In the other quarterfinals, Japan face South Korea, Poland meet Ireland and Argentina are up against Canada. – Sapa