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 March 4, 2002 | 2000 IST

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Malaysia assured of top 8 finish

Two goals from Kuhan Shanmuganathan kept Malaysia in mathematical contention for a place in the hockey World Cup semi-finals as they came from behind twice to beat Cuba 4-2 in their Pool B match on Monday.

The win put the host country in third place on 12 points. They play Poland in their concluding fixture.

In the last match of the day, Australia beat Korea 4-2.

For Malaysia's coach Paul Lissek, however, his side have already surpassed his goal of finishing 10th in the tournament.

"It is a wonderful success to be in the top eight; my target is more than reached," he said after the match.

"The Poland match will be good I promise you because the pressure is off. This team can get good results against top teams but is not ready for the top four. That is asking too much," he added.

The Cubans, still winless going into their sixth game, were worth their lead when Jose Rodriguez scored after eight minutes.

It took only four minutes for Malaysia to equalise when Chairil Anwar Aziz converted a penalty-corner.

Cuba restored their lead in the 16th minute from a well taken Yuniel Rodriguez field goal but that sparked Malaysia's fightback.


Mohd Fairuz Ramly deflected their equaliser home and three minutes later Shanmuganathan got his side's third and his first of the night when he steered Boon Chua's through pass into the net.

Shanmuganthan then completed the scoring from a penalty corner in the 40th minute.

Lissek had cause to complain that his team "is very hard for my heart" as chances were missed and defensive blunders presented chances to the Pan American champions.

But although the hockey was fast and open, neither team had the extra sharpness to score again.

On Tuesday, in pool B, Korea play England, Australia play India, Malaysia meet Poland and Cuba play Japan.

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