MALAYSIA went for an early kill and it worked wonders as they snatched the World League Round Two gold medal by outclassing Poland 8-0 at the Sengkang Stadium in Singapore yesterday.
Coach Tai Beng Hai's players had already claimed a ticket to the World League Semi-finals in Belgium in June, when they beat Japan in the semi-finals, but they went a step further to win Malaysia's only second gold medal in an International Hockey Federation (FIH) tournament.
This gold was much more precious as the earlier one was won at a Five-Nation in Paris in 2010.
There was never a moment, in the first two quarters, that Poland looked like they recovered from the third minute penalty corner drive by Faizal Saari to claim the lead.
Malaysia took command of the match after that and two more penalty corner goals by Razie Rahim in the seventh and 21st minutes eased the pressure on the backline.
Faizal Saari, after missing three one-on-one with the goalkeeper, finally sounded the board in the 33rd minute to make it 4-0.
Poland were totally outclassed in the 42nd minute, when Nabil Fiqri shot home a reverse stick, and Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin made it 6-0 with another reverse stick attempt in the 48th minute.
For good measure, Haziq Shamsul nailed the seventh in the 54th minute, and Razie nailed his hat-trick with a last minute penalty corner drive.
There was overall drive and determination, as Beng Hai started with an attacking forwardline of Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Firhan Ashaari and Faizal Saari -- and they threw caution to the wind with wave after waves of attacks to the delight of a capacity crowd of 2,000-odd fans.
The other delight of this tournament is that Malaysia won all their matches convincingly, except for the 1-1 draw with Japan in the semi-finals which had to be decided in a shoot-out.
"This is the kind of performance that we have been looking for from the players, and they were simply magical against Poland.
"The MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) had targeted for them to play in the final, but we are very proud of them because they went one step further and claimed a crucial gold medal, which has eluded Malaysia for a very long time," said team manager Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad, who is also the MHC vice-president.
Malaysia entered the tournament as the highest ranked team, num 12, and lived up to their billing.
"We need to work on certain areas in the run-up to the WL Semi-finals (which offers tickets to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics) like fitness, so that we can be back in the Olympic fold, which we last played in Sydney 2000," said Nur Azmi.
In the third-fourth placing match, Japan were made to sweat by Oman befor beating them 4-0 to claim the bronze medal which also came with the last ticket to the World League Semi-finals, and Japan are expected to play in the Argentina qualifier.
RESULTS: Final: Malaysia 8 Poland 0; Third-Fourth: Japan 4 Oman 0; Fifth-Sixth: Bangladesh 1 Ukraine 3; Seventh-Eighth: Singapore 4 Mexico 3.