Asia Cup hockey
Pakistan, Japan through to semis
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 :- Pakistan and Japan booked their spots in the semi finals of the 6th Asia Cup with contrasting wins over their opponents at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Monday.
While Pakistan, three time winner of the Asia Cup went through the motion in their 7-1 defeat of China, Japan created a shock when they defeated hosts Malaysia 3-2.
China put up a spirited display in the first 15 minutes but found it difficult to contain the fast Pakistani forward line. They finally caved in when Salim Khalid got the opener for Pakistan in the 18th minute.
Nadeem Ahmad and Khasif Jawad made it 3-0 by scoring in the 26th and 28th minutes respectively before China pulled one back through the effort of Lu Peng a minute before halftime.
Sohail Abas finally found the mark off Pakistan's third penalty corner to make it 4-1 in the 48th minute. He scored another in the 55th minute while Khasif got his second and Pakistans sixth in the 61st minute.
Nadeem rounded up the scoring when his attempted cross in the 67th minute came off a Chinese defender and sailed into goal.
Japan had defeated Hong Kong 7-3 on Sunday and after their win over Malaysia they now have six points from two matches.
The last time the Japanese got the better of the Malaysian's was in the Six Nation Invitational Tournament at the same venue last year where they won 2-1 via a golden goal in extra time.
The result leaves Malaysia's hopes of making the semis hanging precariously as they need Japan to defeat South Korea to have an outside chance of sneaking into the last four.
"We played the correct tactics against Malaysia who are known for their poor physical fitness," said Japan coach Toichi Nagai.
"This is a wonderful result as we have now beaten one of the stronger teams in Asia which has a rich tradition in hockey.
"The result will spur the players to go for better results and we are looking forward to our match against Korea on Wednesday."
Japan took the lead in the 8th minute when Naohiko Tobita sneaked in from the blind side to slot the ball past Malaysian goalkeeper Mohd Nasihin Nubli Ibrahim.
Even that did not wake the home side out of their slumber and they went 2-0 down in the 18th minute when Mohd Amin Abd Rahim lost possession of the ball and that allowed Ryuji Furusato to move into the semi circle where his attempt at goal came off the body of S. Kuhan.
Umpire Chen De Kang of China had no hesitation in awarding a penalty stroke from which Tobita converted with ease.
The closest Malaysia came to reducing the deficit was three minutes before halftime when Tajol Roslie Mohammad's deflection came off the upright.
Japan had an opportunity to increase their lead when they were awarded another penalty stroke in the 48th minute. But this time Tobita failed to get the better of Nasihin who moved to his right to save the attempt.
Skipper S. Kuhan made good Malaysia's sixth penalty corner attempt as his low flick came off Japanese goalkeeper Yasuhiro Nobui to reduce the deficit to 2-1 in the 55th minute.
But Japan were not to be undone and they weathered consistent Malaysian pressure before driving a dagger deep into the Malaysian hearts when Takahito Yamabori converted a penalty corner in the 63rd minute