Men’s Hockey World Cup 2018 – Preview: Pakistan Vs Malaysia Pool Match
Pakistan plays its second match of Hockey World Cup 2018 at Bhubaneswar against Malaysia. This is arguably Pakistan’s most crucial pool match. The other two teams in the pool are the European heavyweights, Holland (world ranking 4) and Germany (no 6).
The Asian sides Pakistan (no 13) and Malaysia (no 12) have lost their opening games, Pakistan 0-1 to Germany and Malaysia 0-7 to Holland.
It will be a tall order for Pakistan and Malaysia to get some points from their last pool games against Holland and Germany respectively. As per this World Cup’s format, only the winner of the pool gets direct qualification for the quarter final. Teams finishing second and third would play cross overs with the third and second from another pool.
All this makes the Pak/Malaysia encounter vital for both the sides. They have met four times in the World Cup with Pakistan winning each time.
- 1973: Pakistan beat Malaysia 4-2
- 1975: Pakistan beat Malaysia 2-1
- 1978: Pakistan beat Malaysia 3-0
- 1998: Pakistan beat Malaysia 7-2
Malaysia’s best performance at the World Cup was fourth position in 1975 when they hosted the event. Malaysia might not be a world beater but during recent times, the national team has been producing good results at least at the continental level. In 2010, they reached the final of the Asian Games for the first time after failing to do so in the previous 13 appearances. In the 2018 Asian Games, Malaysia almost won the gold medal. After taking a 5-2 lead, they allowed Japan to claw back at 6-6 and then win the shootout 3-1.
In 2017, they had their maiden appearance in the final of the Asia Cup. Pakistan and Malaysia have come across thrice recently, with green shirts winning each time. At the Asian Champions Trophy this October, Pakistan twice defeated Malaysia in the round robin and the semifinal, on shootout in the latter. While at the Asian Games in August, Pakistan had outplayed Malaysia 4-1.
But what makes Pakistan favourites against Malaysia was their display in the match against Germany last Saturday. Most had predicted a runaway win for the Germans. However, the green shirts surprised everyone, playing almost at par against a side ranked seven places above before losing by a solitary goal.
Tailpiece: Famed Dutch coach Roelant Oltman, who was with the Pakistan team till before the Asian Champions Trophy is now the coach of Malaysia. However, Pakistan twice defeated Malaysia at the Asian Champions Trophy with Oltman at the Malaysian bench.
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