South Korea's Jang Jong-hyun running after ball in the match against Canada in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup match on Friday. The Koreans won 3-0. - RONNIE CHIN/ The Star
IPOH: Lowly China produced a five-star performance en route to pulling off the biggest surprise in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
World No. 25 China played like men possessed to stun world No. 12 South Africa 5-0 at the Azlan Shah Stadium on Friday.
What made the scoreline even more surprising was that the Chinese had been trounced 7-0 by defending champions Australia in the opening match on Thursday.
But China were a different proposition all together against the Africans, starting off aggressively to score all five goals in the first 27 minutes.
Dong Yang sounded the board off their first penalty corner in the third minute before Sun Long (7th), Wang Bowen (14th), Zhang Zhixuan (20th) and Meng Wei (27th) struck with precision.
It was definitely a poor performance by the Africans, who will feature in the World Cup in The Hague in May.
It was South Africa’s second straight defeat after losing 3-2 to Malaysia on Thursday.
China team manager Zong Weifeng praised his men for playing their hearts out to stun the South Africans.
“This is the first time we’ve won with such a big margin against a team ranked higher than us. It’s a good boost for the morale ... we are looking forward to creating more upsets,” said Weifeng.
The first match of the day went according to script as Asia Cup champions South Korea chalked up a convincing 3-0 win over Canada.
The Koreans went ahead after just seven minutes off a penalty corner goal by defender Jang Jung-hyun.
South Korea kept up the pressure and striker Kang Moon-kweon bagged two goals in five minutes.
First, he deflected the ball into goal off a free hit from outside the semi-circle in 11th minute before making it 3-0 five minutes later off another penalty corner attempt.
South Korea coach Shin Seok-kyo was pleased with the win despite his team not having had any outdoor training “because it is winter back home”.
“We only did some indoor training ... that’s why my players were tired in the second-half,” said Seok-kyo.
“They are not 100% fit and one of my key strikers, You Hyo-sik, has a back injury.
“I hope he can recover in time for the important match against Malaysia on Sunday.”