Hockey: Bottles fly as rumpus mars Malaysia's narrow victory

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The Independent Online
MALAYSIA, WITH a dramatic 2-1 victory over Canada, moved ahead of England to head their pool yesterday and will play India in the semi-finals while England will now face the powerful Australians who head the second pool in their semi-final.

The Scottish umpire David Wallis was surrounded and jostled by the Canadian players at the end of the game and the Canadian bench was showered with plastic bottles. Canada's coach Shiaz Virjee said afterwards he was extremely disappointed with the behaviour of his players. "I do not condone their actions but players make mistakes and so do umpires. Unfortunately you can't substitute umpires."

As the players left the pitch, in addition to the harassing of the umpire a Canadian player was seen to hit an object into the crowd and damage was done to a door of the Canadian dressing room. The English Tournament Director Peter Crane said that a police report had been called for and a letter had been sent to the Canadian manager.

The unfortunate fracas had come at the end of a highly entertaining game of hockey before a capacity 12,000 plus crowd, including the King of Malaysia and his Prime Minister.

Malaysia, a vastly improved team than that which finished 11th in the World Cup three months ago, required a win to go through to the semi-finals, while a draw would have seen Canada joining England.

The stadium erupted as Nor Saiful Nasirudtin opened the scoring in the 28th minute from their first penalty corner. Canada were forced to come out of their defensive mode. A hush fell over the stadium as Canada were awarded a penalty stroke in the 53rd minute, which their captain Peter Milkovich calmly converted.

Milkovich was less calm five minutes from the end of the game as Malaysia recaptured the lead. A cross from the right was cleared into the body of a Malaysian forward by the Canadian goalkeeper Mike Mahood, with the ball falling to Calvin Fernandez, who pushed it into the net amidst mass hysteria. The Canadians swarmed round Wallis to protest, demanding a free hit, with order only being restored when Wallis sent Milkovich off.

Canada played out the game with 10 men and the host side went through to a semi-final against India, with the guarantee of a fourth sell-out.

In the women's competition Scotland lost their chance of a semi-final slot yesterday when they drew 2-2 with India. Recovering from a fifth minute goal from the Indian captain Sita Gussain, who afterwards became the first player in the tournament to be red carded (permanent suspension), Scotland, with goals from Rhona Simpson and Sue Gilmour, were leading with just four minutes to go when India equalised.

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