MALAYSIA started their Sultan of Johor Cup campaign with a 4-2 win against Argentina with Shahril Saabah claiming a hat-trick at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru yesterday.
The scoreline indicated an easy win, but in fact it was that Malaysia's penalty corner battery that saved the day by delivering three goals, as the Argentinians also displayed some impressive hockey but were blunt in the semi-circle.
"We went in looking for a win, and my players rose to the ocassion by beating Argentina comprehensively. This is the kind of attitude and performance I will be expecting from them in the remaining matches," said an elated coach K. Dharmaraj.
Malaysia play South Korea today: "Even though Pakistan outclassed the Koreans (3-0) they cannot be taken lightly and we will be looking for early goals to make sure of another win," said Dharmaraj.
Malaysia started on a flying note when in the seventh minute itself, Shahril Saabah converted a penalty corner with a low flick past Argentina keeper Tomas Matias Santiago and postman Nicolas Ciclleo.
But another penalty corner in the 11th minute was squandered as the push out by Firhan Ashaari way way off and Argentina were let off the hook.
However Argentina were fortunate to score their equaliser in the 18th minute as a hit by Fredico Lionel Monja struck the stick of Kavin Karthik and sailed past goalkeeper Ahmad Sobri for an own goal.
Malaysia kept fighting for possession, and off their third penalty corner, they were forced to play a variation when the push out was again off tandem.
The ball was played back to Fitri Shaari whose goal bound shot was neatly deflected in by Shahril for a 2-1 in the 23rd minute to take a slim lead into the breather.
Shahril again proved his mettle when Malaysa won their fourth penalty corner three minutes after the restart, and he sent the ball crashing to the top of the net for his hat-trick.
Syamim Yusof then brought more cheers to the Malaysia side in the 48th minute when he beat three Argentinians before tapping the ball goal-bound and Rashid Baharom made sure by guiding the ball into the goalmouth to get his name on the scoreboard.
With a 4-1 lead, Malaysia hit a home run for their first three points even though there was still 20 minutes to play.
Argentina scored their second goal in the 64th minute off Isidoro Carlos but it was too late to douse the Malaysian celebrations.
In an earlier match Pakistan, powered by their skipper Olympian Umar Bhutta, beat South Korea 3-0.
The goals were scored by Muhammad Dilber (48th, 63rd) and Muhammad Umair (53rd).
The Green Shirts play England today: "It took a little time to adjust to the pitch as it was slippery, but the winning start should put us in good stead against England in our next match," said Umar.
India edged England 2-1 in the second match with the goals coming from Ramandeep Singh in the sixth minute and Talwinder Singh in the 50th.
The England goal as scored by Stanley French in the 66th minute.
P W D L F A Pts
PAKISTAN 1 1 0 0 3 0 3
MALAYSIA 1 1 0 0 4 2 3
INDIA 1 1 0 0 2 1 3
ENGLAND 1 0 0 1 1 2 0
ARGENTINA 1 0 0 1 2 4 0
S KOREA 1 0 0 1 0 3 0
RESULTS -- South Korea 0 Pakistan 3, England 1 India 2, Malaysia 4 Argentina 2.
TODAY -- England v Pakistan (4pm), Argentina v India (6pm), Malaysia v South Korea (8pm).
Sept 25: Argentina v South Korea (4pm), Malaysia v England (6pm), India v Pakistan (8pm).
Sept 26: England v Argentina (4pm), South Korea v India (6pm), Malaysia v Pakistan (8pm).
Sept 28: Argentina v Pakistan (4pm), India v Malaysia (6pm), South Korea v England (8pm).
Sept 20: Final and placing matches.
KUALA LUMPUR: Wang Menyu starred for defending champions China in their 3-0 win over Malaysia in the opening Group A match of the Women’s Asia Cup at the National Hockey Stadium Saturday night.
Menyu was on target from the penalty corner in the 15th minute.
She added the second, also from a penalty corner, in the 50th minute.
Liang Meiyu completed the scoring with a field goal in the 68th minute.
The Malaysians’ strategy was to absorb the Chinese attack and then launch fast counter-attacks.
Malaysian coach Mohamed Nasihin Nubli said their plan worked, especially in the first half.
“The scoreline was 1-0 at half time and that was good for us. We had a
few good counter attacks after the break but our finishing was poor.
China capitalised on our open play and scored twice late in the second
“It was a good opening match for the team. We must now focus on the game against Hong Kong tomorrow.
“We need to win big and set us up for the final group match against India,” added Nasihin.
Earlier in Group B, South Korea outclassed Kazakhstan 12-1.
Kim Da-rae was the hero for the Koreans, who have already secured
their World Cup place. She contributed four field goals in the 36th,
38th, 39th and 41st minutes. Cheon Seul-ki notched a hat-trick with
goals in the 25th, 49th and 53rd minutes.
Kim Jong-eun (19th), Han Hye-young (35th), Cheon Eun-bi (45th) and Park Mi-hyun (52nd and 55th) were the other scorers.
Imangaliyena Gulnara netted the Kazakhs’ sole goal from a penalty corner in the 63rd minute.