By Ajitpal Singh
MALAYSIA were hammered 4-0 by Azerbaijan in their opening Olympic Qualifying match in Kakamigahara, Japan yesterday.
Azerbaijan, represented by several Korean-born players, led 2-0 at half-time through a Yulia Muradi brace from penalty corners in the 17th and 31st minutes.
Myung Soon Mammadova (45th) and Yuliya Muradi (56th) completed the rout.
Goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya saved a penalty stroke to avoid further embarrassment for Malaysia.
The team managed to penetrate into Azerbaijan’s semi- circle but failed to convert their chances, including from four penalty corners.
“We were attacking quite a bit especially in the first half but luck was not on our side. The score does not reflect how we played,” said coach Nasihin Nubli yesterday.
“My players tried hard to prove something but their goalkeeper (Farida Mammadova) was on form.
“Furthermore, their naturalised players made a huge difference as they were the ones controlling play.”
Malaysia must beat favourites Japan tomorrow to stay in the hunt for a spot at the London Olympics.
“We were beaten 4-2 by Japan in our last meeting at the 2010 Asian Games. I believe we have a chance if we play to strategy on Friday (tomorrow,” Nasihin added.
Results — Japan 7 Austria 0, Belarus 3 Chile 1, Azerbaijan 4 Malaysia 0.