FITNESS helped Malaysia beat Pakistan 1-0 to keep their hopes of a medal finish alive in the 25th Edition of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
Armed with a single goal scored in the fourth minute, Malaysia stopped every trick the Pakistan team threw at them to have a better chance of playing for the bronze medal.
Malaysia took an early lead off their first penalty corner in the fourth minute, but bungled many sitters after that.
It was Razie Rahim's drive that gave Malaysia some breathing space until the half-time hooter.
Pakistan's best chance to equalise came in the 33rd minute when Ajaz Ahmad found himself alone with goalkeeper Hairi Rahman after a break-away 20 meter sprint.
However, Hairi saved the first attempt, and a follow on attempt from Ajaz to deny Pakistan the equaliser.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) technical director Terry Walsh said the national team have completed their Phase One of training, and fitness is now at a higher level.
"As you can see in all the matches so far, the Malaysian team has been playing on high gear and fitness is no longer a problem. This is the first step towards preparing the team for the World League (which is a World Cup qualifier)," said Walsh who is down in Ipoh.
Walsh also feels that even though Malaysia have their own style of play, 'it has not been effective in recent tournaments'.
"The Malaysian style of playing has its own good and bad points, and the next step will be to keep the good and work on eliminating the bad points which have been hindering progress. This will take time, and I believe if we work hard for the next two years there will be results.
"But for comprehensive results, it will take at least 10 years to work from the bottom to the top. This is because the base (youth) is still the weakest point.
"We need to have a strong base, and this will take at least a decade," said Walsh.
P W D L F A Pts
AUSTRALIA 5 5 0 0 18 3 15
N ZEALAND 6 3 2 1 15 10 11
INDIA 5 3 0 2 12 10 9
MALAYSIA 5 2 2 1 11 13 8
CANADA 5 1 2 2 8 10 5
PAKISTAN 5 1 0 4 7 16 3
JAPAN 5 0 0 5 7 16 0
RESULTS: New Zealand 2 India 1, Australia 3 Japan 1, Malaysia 1 Pakistan 0.
April 14: REST DAY.
April 15: Japan v Pakistan (4pm), Australia v Canada (6pm), Malaysia v India (8.35pm).
April 16: Classifications and Final.