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Junior Hockey World Cup: France qualify for final

Friday, 13 December 2013 - 8:47pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: IANS

France surprised everyone and qualified for the Hockey Junior World Cup final defeating Malaysia 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out in the semifinal at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here Friday.

France, which had never even reached the top-4 of any previous edition of the prestigious tournament, came back from a goal-down, to first level the match 1-1, and then beat Malaysia in the semifinal.

They will play the winner of the other semifinal between Germany and the Netherlands in Sunday's final.

Malaysia were quick in action by surprising the French with a quick free hit drilled into the circle that found Azri Hassan totally unmarked in front of goal with plenty of time to beat stopper Edgar Reynaud.

France had trouble finding their rhythm but pushed forward to the Malaysian circle. Simon Martin Brisac had a chance in the 20th minute but was left with no angle and his shot went in the side net.

After hitting the post in their first penalty corner, the French had most of ball possession but could not penetrate the Malaysian defence and went into the break trailing 0-1.

France were briefly down two players in the second half and Malaysia also collected their share of cards.

Hafizuddin Othman saved a penalty corner flicked high in goal but France were finally rewarded with their persistence in the 63rd minute when Jean-Laurent Kieffer managed a slight touch on a ball drilled into the circle to tie the proceedings and maintained the scoreline till the 70th minute, forcing a penalty shoot-out, the first of this competition.

France missed their first attempt but goalie Corentin Saunier outplayed two Malaysian strikers to put his team back on top, with Hugo Genestet finishing the job to send the 'Les Bleus' in the final.

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