November 15, 2009 14:33 PM
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 (Bernama) -- Malaysia failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup Hockey Finals after losing 1-2 to New Zealand in the qualifiers final in Invercargill, New Zealand, on Sunday.
Two goals by the hosts through penalty corners in the second half wiped out the early 1-0 lead Malaysia had in the first half.
Coach Tai Beng Hai's boys could not hold on to the advantage garnered by Muhammad Razie Abd Rahim in the 18th minute off a penalty corner.
New Zealand came back stronger after the interval and equalised in the 57th minute through Andrew Hayward whose shot beat keeper S. Kumar.
The equaliser inspired the New Zealand players, dubbed the "Black Sticks", and Hayward clinched the winner three minutes later.
The Malaysian players could have scored in the second half, but failed to convert three penalty corners.
The victory enabled New Zealand to book their place in the 2010 World Cup finals scheduled to be held in New Delhi, India, from Feb 28 to March 13.
This is the second time in a row that Malaysia have failed to make it to a World Cup finals, the first being in 2006.
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek said here that the team played well considering that they were up against the hosts in the final.
"They played extraordinarily well in the match against China (winning 3-0) and we expected them to do just as well today," he told reporters.
Malaysia was ranked 16th in the world going into the qualifying tournament, behind New Zealand (ranked 8th) and China (13th).