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Ireland aiming to turn the heat on hosts in world bid

By John Flack

Ireland can take a huge step towards achieving their required top two finish at the World League 2 tournament in Kuala Lumpur today if they can defeat their Malaysian hosts.

Three points would almost certainly be enough to ensure Ireland top the group and they would then be odds-on favourites to progress to the final stage of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

However, assistant coach Arlene Boyles has warned her players not to read too much into Saturday's opening 12-0 demolition of a poor Kazakhstan side.

Malaysia signalled their intent with an equally convincing 9-0 romp over Hong Kong and with a partisan crowd behind them, allied to their familiarity with the hot and humid conditions, Boyles expects a much tougher test today.

She said: "Winning 12-0 was a great way to start any tournament and it has instilled confidence in the camp but it's hard to gain anything else from such a result.

"The focus is to concentrate on what we did well and try to improve in some aspects of our play for what will be a much tougher game.

"The second-half was more structured and clinical and getting all our forwards on the scoresheet shows the type of hockey we are playing.

"But we need to improve our penalty-corner conversion rate but we worked hard on our routines on Sunday and we will be ready for Malaysia."

Meanwhile, a late winner from Vanessa Surgeoner gave Pegasus a 2-1 victory over Belfast Harlequins and moved them into fifth place in the EY IHL table.

Pegasus captain Alex Speers said: "We missed a lot of chances and their keeper played well but we got there in the end after a tough game as we'd expected."

Results: World League 2: Pool B: Ireland 12 (A O'Flanagan 4, N Evans 3, G Pinder, K Mullan, C Watkins, R Barry, N Daly) Kazakhstan 0: Malaysia 9 Hong Kong 0; Today: Malaysia v Ireland (12.30pm UK time) EY Irish Hockey League: Belfast Harlequins 1 (K Larmour) Pegasus 2 (S Thompson, V Surgeoner); Ulster Premier League: Ballymoney 2 (K Gawn, N Parke) Queen's 2 (J Kee, A Hutchinson); Lisnagarvey 2 (B Walker, B Ravey)

Portadown 2 (L McKimm, O Gibson); Senior One: Knock 0 Mossley 3 (M Dougan, S McDowell, K Lorimer); Larne 1 (B McVeigh) Armagh 1 (R Faloon); Rainey 4 (A Burns 3, R Burns) Cookstown 2 (R Stewart, K Scott).

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