Abu Dhabi: The UAE have reached the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in South Africa next year after defeating Mongolia 3-2 (1-0, 2-1, 0-1) late on Monday night at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink.
They collected six points from two matches and qualify for Division III next April irrespective of the result of their final match in the qualifiers against Georgia today (Wed).
The UAE will join DPR Korea, Luxembourg, Ireland, South Africa and the winner of the Mongolia and Greece match, which takes place at 4pm today, in South Africa.
“We are happy to reach the finals of the World Cup for the second time in our history,” said the team’s manager, Khalid Al Qubeissi. “But still we have a match to play against Georgia because we want to win all three matches. We have to realise that reaching the finals of the World Cup means a start for more hard work to represent our country in an honourable fashion in South Africa.”
Their match with Mongolia was closely contested and turned tough many times as the visitors resorted to a physical approach to stop the local players from scoring more goals. This provoked an angry outburst from the UAE’s head coach, Juri Faikov.
“The players of Mongolia do not play according to the rules of the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) which led to six of our players being injured through deliberate fouls,” Faikov said after the match. “The referees failed to control the match.”
The match was officiated by Djordje Fazekas of Serbia, Louis Beelen of England and Lithuania’s Benas Jaksys.
UAE captain, Juma Al Daheri, was the hero for his side as he had been in the opening game against Greece. Al Daheri scored the home team’s first goal in the 18th minute following an assist from Mubarak Al Mazroui, and this remained the only score of the first period.
Mongolia came out strong in the second period and levelled the scores after 24 minutes through Namjil Mishigsuren, but Al Mazroui came to the rescue of his team by scoring the UAE’s second goal a minute later. Then Mohammad Al Shamsi put the game to bed by scoring the third goal in the 29th minute.
Only eight seconds before the end of the match, Tserenbaljir Baatarkhuu scored Mongolia’s second goal.
The UAE have done well at the Asian level, becoming champions in 2009 in the 2nd Asian Ice Hockey Championship held in Abu Dhabi.
They also won the 2012 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia held in Dehradun, India.
Meanwhile, also on Monday, Greece boosted their hopes of reaching the finals of the world event by trouncing Georgia 13-0 (4-0, 7-0, 2-0). They will face Mongolia today (Weds) in a crucial match as the winner will secure a berth in the finals as both teams have three points each from two matches.
The Greeks dominated the match against Georgia, with Ioannis Foukis scoring four goals and Dimitious Kalyvas and Dimitios Malamas grabbing two apiece.