LAHORE - Pakistan will play their second match of 2018 World Cup at Bhubaneswar against Malaysia, which is arguably the most crucial pool match for the men in green as the other two teams in the pool are European heavyweights Holland and Germany.

The Asian sides Pakistan (No 13) and Malaysia (No 12) have lost their opening games, as green shirts were beaten by Germany 0-1 while Malaysia lost against Holland 0-7. It will be a tall order for Pakistan and Malaysia to get some points from their last pool games against Holland and Germany respectively. As per this World Cup’s format, only the winners of the pool get direct qualification for the quarter final. Teams finishing second and third would play cross overs with the third and second from another pool. All this makes Pakistan-Malaysia encounter vital for both the sides.

Match starts at 6:30 PM

Pakistan and Malaysia have met four times in the World Cup with Pakistan winning each time. In their very first encounter in 1973, Pakistan overpowered Malaysia 4-2, in 1975, Pakistan beat Malaysia 2-1, in 1978, Pakistan thrashed Malaysia 3-0 while in 1998, it was once again Pakistan, who outclassed Malaysia 7-2.

Malaysia’s best performance at the World Cup was fourth position in 1975, when they hosted the event. Malaysia might not be a world beater but during recent times, they have been producing good results at least at the continental level. In 2010, they reached final of the Asian Games for the first time after failing to do so in the previous 13 appearances. In 2018 Asian Games, Malaysia almost won the gold medal. After taking a 5-2 lead, they allowed Japan to claw back at 6-6 and then win the shootout 3-1. In 2017, they had their maiden appearance in the final of the Asia Cup.

Pakistan and Malaysia have come across thrice recently, with green shirts winning each time. At the Asian Champions Trophy this October, Pakistan twice defeated Malaysia in the round robin and the semifinal, on shootout in the latter. While at the Asian Games in August, Pakistan had overwhelmed Malaysia 4-1. But what makes Pakistan favourites against Malaysia was their display in the match against Germany last Saturday. Most had predicted a runaway win for the Germans. However, the green shirts surprised everyone, playing almost at par against a side ranked seven places above before losing by a solitary goal.

Famed Dutch coach Roelant Oltman, who was with Pakistan team till before the Asian Champions Trophy, is now coach of Malaysia. However, Pakistan twice defeated Malaysia at the Asian Champions Trophy with Oltman at the Malaysian bench.

AUSTRALIA THRASH ENGLAND 3-0 TO QUALIFY FOR NEXT ROUND

Two-time defending champions Australia thrashed England 3-0 in their second Pool B match of the 2018 FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

The win helped Australia become the second team after Olympic champions Argentina to progress to the next round of the tournament. In their first match, Australia had defeated Ireland 2-1. With a draw and a defeat after two outings, seventh-ranked England are in the third position after the match. Pool winners directly qualify for the quarter-finals, while the second and third place teams go through the crossover round. The contest remained goalless for the first three quarters before Jake Whetton found the back of the net in the 47th minute to put Australia ahead. Three minutes later, Blake Govers’ goal extended Australia’s lead to 2-0, while Corey Weyer also scored in the 56th minute to make the scoreline read 3-0.

“We competed well, particularly in the first half,” England coach Danny Kerry said. “Credit to Australia for taking their chance in the fourth quarter to go 1-0 up. “We’ll look forward to the opportunity that the final game presents us.”

IRELAND HELD BY CHINA 1-1

Ireland men were held by China in their second Hockey World Cup clash in India. China - competing in their maiden World Cup - took the lead in the third quarter through Jin Guo. Ireland responded in the 44th minute through man of the match Alan Sothern, however Alexander Cox’s profligate side were unable to force a late winner.  They now lie third in Pool C behind China and Australia, but ahead of England on goal difference.