KUANTAN: South Korea, Ireland and Canada checked into last four of the Champions Challenge I in contrasting fashions.
World No. 7 South Korea cruised past Japan 5-1 in the quarter-finals at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium here yesterday.
The other two quarter-finals were more closely contested. Ireland and France were level at 2-2 in regulation time and needed a penalty shootout to settle the issue. Ireland came out tops in the shootout, winning 3-0.
As for Canada, they had to slog for a 3-2 win over Poland.
Tomorrow’s semi-finals will see Malaysia taking on Canada and Ireland facing South Korea.
The fifth-eighth placing playoffs will see New Zealand meeting Poland and France squaring off with Japan.
In the South Korea-Japan match, Hyun Hye-sung and Jang Jong-hyun scored in the 11th and 24th minutes respectively to give the Koreans a 2-0 first-half lead.
The Koreans added three more goals after the break through Jong-hyun (40th, 49th) and Nam Hyun-woo (59th) while Heita Yoshihara scored Japan’s consolation goal in the 63rd minute.
The Ireland-France match came alive in the second half.
Ireland went ahead through Alan Southern in the second minute and the score stayed at 1-0 at half-time.
France equalised through Guillaume Deront (41st) and went 2-1 up through Martin Genestet (50th). Ireland then equalised through Stephen Dowds in the 64th minute to take the match into a penalty shootout.
In the shootout, John Jackson, Eugene Magee and Peter Brown scored for Ireland.
Canada, meanwhile, needed a 60th minute goal by veteran Philip Wright to see off Poland.
Poland had earlier gone ahead through Karol Majchrzak (22nd minute) before Iain Smythe equalised for Canada (29th).
Poland went ahead again through Krystian Makowski (47th) but Canada drew level a second time through Matthew Guest (54th).
Then came Wright’s winning strike.
The match, however, was marred by the sending off of Canada’s Sukhi Panesar and Poland’s Michal Kasprzyk in the 69th minute for the use of excessive physical force.