MALAYSIA whipped the daylights out of China when seven different players scored in the 7-3 win against China in the 23rd Edition of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
The goal-cushion could come into the picture as Malaysia, who confirmed a berth in the third-fourth placing match, make a dash for the final with only the Australian match remains on Saturday where they need to keep the score low.
China were the early agressors, but cheered on by a capacity crowd, Malaysia took an early lead after they started with a strike, instead of a defensive side.
And in the sixth minute itself, Marhan Jalil's cracking shot from the top of the semi-circle went crashing into the top of the net for the much needed lead.
The opening goal was just the tonic needed for another push, and the first penalty corner was won in the eighth minute. Ahmad Kazamirul's dummy went to Shahril Saabah, whose flick was saved by the goalkeeper but in came Azlan Misron who slapped in the rebound for the second goal in the ninth minute.
Missing from the match was striker Faizal Saari, who was suspended for one match yesterday morning after the Tournament Director Gavin Hawke from New Zealand found his conduct during the Canada match unbecoming.
On Monday, Faizal was yellow carded in the 24th minute for hitting Canadian Jagdish Gill, and instead of sitting it out, he hit the sin-bin plastic chair with his hockey stick and broke it.
The four-goal striker was then benched for the match against China, and coach K. Dharmaraj had to push skipper and defender Azlan into the forwardline.
And the coaches' reshuffle paid dividents as Malaysia went on a first half rampage and in the 23rd minute, off their third penalty corner, Kazamirul's push found Izzat Hakimi who tucked in to make it 3-0.
Three minutes later, it was the turn of experienced striker Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin to slam in the ball from a difficult angle for his first of the tournament, as Malaysia cruise at 4-0.
The fifth goal was another masterpiece, as Shahril Saabah got his name on the scoreboard with a tap-in in the 30th minute.
China pulls one back when E Liguang scores in the 44th, but a minute later Malaysian were awarded a penalty stroke and Fitri Saari scores from the spot to make it 6-1.
The second China goal was scored off a penalty stroke by Du Talake in the 60th minute, but Firhan Ashaari makes it 7-2 in the 62nd minute.
In the end, the final score was 7-3, as Du Talake gets his brace in the 66th.
"I did expect my players to pull off a win, but the score was not expected as the players took themselves to the limit," said Dharmaraj.
As for Azlan who from a defender was promoted to striker: "That is the new trend which I will propogate, as I look to make players versatile, and able to play in any position when required."
RESULTS: Canada 2 South Africa 3, Malaysia 7 China 3.
P W D L F A Pts
MALAYSIA 4 3 1 0 15 8 10
AUSTRALIA 3 3 0 0 20 0 9
S KOREA 3 2 1 0 8 4 7
CHINA 4 1 0 3 10 17 3
S AFRICA 4 1 0 3 5 17 3
CANADA 4 0 0 4 3 15 0
March 20: Canada v China (6pm), South Korea v Australia (8pm).
March 21: REST DAY.
March 22: Australia v Malaysia (6pm), South Africa v South Korea (8pm).