MALAYSIA lived dangerously before Amin Rahim’s hat-trick saw them beat a robust Russia 6-2 in the Olympic Qualifiers at the University College Dublin grounds in Ireland yesterday.
The match followed a Bollywood movie script, as Malaysia received two sucker punches, before waking up to fight tooth-and-nail to win their second match of the Qualifier.
“I was warming the bench when Malaysia were down 2-0 to Russia, and when the coach finally told me to enter the pitch, I knew that I had to prove a point. It is nice the score the first hat-trick of the tournament and also find my form here. The team started slowly today (yesterday) but a pep-talk during the break did the trick,” said Amin Rahim.
Amin picked up a knee injury during the playing tour of Australia and that is why he is being used sparingly by coach Tai Beng Hai.
“I am about 98 per cent recovered from the knee injury, and should be fully ready when we play against South Korea and Ireland,” said Amin.
The sun was up in Dublin, but still, Malaysia took a long time to warm up to the match and paid the price when Russia hammered in two early goals.
The forwardline of Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Faizal Saari and Hafifi Hafiz failed to convert the chances that came their way, and in the 15th minute, Pavel Golubev gave Russia the lead from a close range shot.
In the Malaysian goal was Roslan Jamaluddin as first choice custodian S, Kumar was down with fever.
And two minutes later, Golubev was left alone by the defenders and he again sounded the board from close range.
The unthinkable had happened, as Russia are ranked No 20, while Malaysia are 13th in the world, but the higher ranked team were playing like novices.
Malaysia even bungled the first penalty corner when Razie Rahim flicked high but Russian goalkeeper Roman Rogov stopped it with ease.
Tengku Ahmad made up for his poor play thus far by winning the second penalty corner and it was duly tucked in by Amin Rahim in the 28th minute to give Malaysia a life-line for the remainder of the match.
The second half saw a more composed Malaysian side, and Amin Rahim was again on fire two minutes into the second half, as he scored the equaliser with a well placed penalty corner flick to Rogov's left.
That was the signal for Malaysia to push forward in numbers and in the 45th minute, off their fourth penalty corner, it was youngster Faizal Saari's turn to score and give his team the much needed lead.
Malaysia found their rhythm and it became much easier to score and this time, off their fifth penalty corner in the 52nd minute, Razie Rahim flicked home for a 4-2 lead.
And a super attack combination from Faizal Saari and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin saw Malaysia winning a penalty stroke when Tengku was pushed to the ground.
Amin Rahim stepped up to the spot, and cooly flicked in the fifth goal in the 54th minute.
Hafifi Hafiz then scored the sixth in the 65th, which was Malaysia’s only field goal of the match.