Chile in red-hot form against Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Chile created history at the Pan-American Under-21 Junior World Cup qualifiers in August when they beat 11-time champions Argentina in the final.

Argentina had been the undisputed champions since 1978, but Chile held them to a 1-1 draw and then won the shootout 3-2 to qualify for the Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, on Nov 24-Dec 5.

And red-hot Chile are in Group A with Malaysia, South Africa and Belgium.

"Even though Chile does not have Argentina's proud hockey tradition, they caused a major upset by qualifying for the Bhubaneswar tournament as champions, and so Malaysia can't take them lightly based on history only.

"I believe every team in Group A will also pose the same problems as they are champions in their own tournaments as well," said national juniors team manager I. Vikneswaran.

The other teams in Group A are Belgium and South Africa.

International Hockey Federation (FIH) wrote: "History was made in the men's and women's Junior Pan American Championships as Chile men and Canada women both won the titles for the first time.

"For Chile men, this was momentous as no other team has displaced Argentina since the event started in 1978.

"It was total joy for the junior men's team Chile as they defeated Argentina 3-2 in a shootout after the final finished with the teams drawn at 1-1."

Vikneswaran said: "Both Argentina (Group D) and Chile qualified for the Junior World Cup, and we can expect them to play their fast-paced and hardworking South American style which is also displayed in their football matches."

In the Pan-American qualifiers, Chile beat Brazil 2-0, Canada 3-1 and Mexico 5-1 in group matches. In the semi-finals, Chile beat the United States 4-0 while Argentina beat Canada 2-1.

"Chile ended the tournament unbeaten, and that says much about this current team. Malaysia will have to plan properly aganst every team in Group A, and take one match at a time," said Vikneswaran.

Malaysia and Chile will also host the men's and women's 2023 Junior World Cup respectively.

Coach Wallace Tan's boys will play Chile first on Nov 24, and they can't afford to drop any points against the Pan-American champions.

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