MALAYSIA beat China 5-1 in the seventh-eighth classification match in the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan Saturday, where only pride was at stake.
Coach Arul Selvaj's boys will now meet Bangladesh in the fifth-sixth classification today after they beat Oman 3-2 in shoot-out. The full time score was 2-2.
Shahril Saabah scored a hat-trick (41st, 52nd, 64th) while the other goals were scored by Nik Aiman Rozemi (56th) and Syed Shafiq Cholan (67th). The China goal was scored by E Wenlong in the 53rd minute.
At half-time the score was 0-0: "During the break I lost my head a little and 'punished' some boys who were not putting in any effort, because this was a match to show the stake holders MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) and NSC (National Sports Council) that these boys should not be disbanded just because they lost concentration for the last two minutes against South Korea.
"Yes, we missed the Junior World Cup boat by two minutes, but we have some very talented players in this squad and they should have a continuous programme to make them better players," said Arul.
Arul used his second goalkeeper Fazri Rahim for the full duration of the match and he played a big role in stopping China.
"Fazri has never played a full match before and he proved that he can be relied upon and this is good for the future. As for Shahil, he showed the way for his team-mates on how to make a come-back from disaster and pick up the pieces no matter what.
"We only have the fifth spot to aim for now, and we need to win by big margins to show that this team is not a bunch of losers, only that they fumbled for two minutes," said Arul.
Malaysia lost out on the Junior World Cup when they allowed South Korea to come back into the match in the last two minutes, by scoring two goals to hold Malaysia 3-3, and then beat them 4-1 in the shoot-out.
RESULTS: Fifth-eighth: Oman 2 Bangladesh 2 (Bangladesh win shoot-out 3-2), Malaysia 5 China 1.
Semi-finals: Japan 6 India 1, South Korea 2 Pakistan 2 (Pakistan beat Japan 8-7 in shoot out).
TODAY: Seventh-Eighth: China v Oman (3.45pm, Pitch II); Fifth-Sixth: Malaysia v Bangladesh (6pm, Pitch I); Third-Fourth: Japan v Korea (6.15pm, Pitch I); Final: India v Pakistan (8.30pm, Pitch I).
Note: All matches at the Kuantan Stadium.