Malaysia in do-or-die match against Japan

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia face a do-or-die match against Japan tomorrow in their last Group B match in hockey's Nations Cup in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

The Speedy Tigers must win the match or else they will miss the semifinals.

Malaysia lost 1-0 to Asian champion South Korea on Monday before beating Canada 3-2.

Japan beat Canada 3-0 but lost 3-1 to the Koreans.

World No 10 Malaysia and No 18 Japan are tied with three points each, but Japan have a one-goal advantage.

The pressure will be on Malaysia, who are the highest ranked team in the eight-nation tournament, as Arul Selvaraj's men can't afford a draw.

Arul, who has been set a semifinal target by the national body, said: "We've had some good results against Japan, and we beat them in the last two meetings.

"Tomorrow is a different ball game as we need to perform well. Our team need to play with more confidence and commitment.

"A few of the players are down with injuries, and I will have to reshuffle the team to make sure I have the best 11 players against Japan."

Arul guided the national team to their first-ever Sultan Azlan Shah Cup title on Nov 10.

Striker Faizal Saari, who played in the Dutch league in recent months, has yet to score in the Nations Cup.

In Group A, hosts South Africa and Ireland advanced to the semifinals.

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