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Malaysia finish fifth in Asia Cup

September 27, 2003 19:48 IST

Hosts Malaysia saved the blushes, scoring in the last minute of the match to beat China 3-2 for a fifth-place finish in the Asia Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

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However, there was no let-up in the misery for minnows Bangladesh, who finished last in a forgettable campaign after a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Hong Kong in the classification match for the 7th-8th places.

This was the only match in the tournament where Bangladesh managed to put up a semblance of fight but it was still not enough as they failed to break their winless run.

India take on Pakistan in the summit clash tomorrow while holders South Korea and Japan fight it out for the third-fourth places.

Malaysia, who led 2-0 at half-time with goals by Nishel Kumar Silveraja (22nd minute) and Tajol Roslie Mohammed (29th), paid the price for complacency as China rallied to equalise through Song Yi (48th) and Ya Yang (52nd).

Just when it seemed the match was heading towards extra-time with the two teams locked 2-2 till the last minute, Paul Lissek's men scored the match-winner through captain Kuhan Shanmugathan.

The result salvaged some pride for Malaysia, who were expected to at least reach the semi-finals. But the hosts, who had finished fourth in the previous edition, failed to play to their potential and struggled throughout.

The other match saw Bangladesh forging ahead early in the third minute through their best player, Mohammed Ariful Haq Prince. Hong Kong equalised in 14th minute when captain Mohd. Farooq converted a penalty-corner.

Hong Kong surged ahead  before half-time, with Arif Ali finding the net in the 21st minute.

After the breather, Bangladesh, who had finished sixth in the previous edition in 1999, equalised again in the 50th minute through Mohammed Isa Mia.

Both the teams scored one more goal -- Alfonso Bibi Cordero for Hong Kong in the 54th minute and a minute later Isa Mia for Bangladesh -- before Arif Ali scored the winner three minutes before the hooter.

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