A big hand to keeper Che Sharul as Malaysia reach quarters


Kamarulzaman Kamaruddin (centre) celebrates his goal against South Africa. - Photo by FIH

PETALING JAYA: The national junior hockey team can thank goalkeeper Che Sharul Azmi Che Saupi, who has been a revelation in the Junior Hockey World Cup with his superb saves.

Malaysia have qualified for the quarter-finals in Bhubaneswar, India, after collecting six points from three matches in Group A.

The side led by coach Wallace Tan booked their spot after edging South Africa 4-3 in their final Group A encounter at the Kalinga Stadium yesterday.

Malaysia’s four goals came via Mohd Fahmi Khalid (29th minute), Mohd Kamarulzaman Kamaruddin (41st), Mohd Shamir Rizmi Shamsul (49th) and captain Mohd Akhimullah Anuar Esook (56th).

South Africa’s goals were scored by Jared Campbell (48th and 54th) and captain Guy Morgan (38th).

Although Malaysia conceded three goals, Che Sharul was in imperious form to prevent the South Africans from sounding the board more times.

He was also impressive in Malaysia’s 2-1 win over Chile and 1-1 draw with Belgium.

Che Sharul claims that he is in his best form and hopes to help Malaysia go further in the knockout stage.

“I know this sounds common, but I’m just doing my job. When you concede, it’s disappointing but I’m also happy to note that many of my saves kept the team in the game,” said the 20-year-old.

“Against Belgium, the pressure was immense, but we managed to hold on for a draw. The man- of-the-match award after that game felt good, and I’m happy to continue that momentum against South Africa.”

Malaysia now hope that Che Sharul will continue his excellent form as their next opponents France have proven to be a real threat, being the highest scorers with a whopping 23 goals. Their dangerman Timothee Clement have scored eight in three games to help the French top Group B with nine points. France thrashed Canada 11-1 in their last game.

With those scary stats, Che Sharul should have his hands full against France.

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