Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin (left) pushing the ball past China's goalkeeper Yan Rong Yao, to score Malaysia's third goal in their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup match in Ipoh. – SAIFUL BAHRI/The Star
IPOH: Malaysia were without top scorer Faizal Saari in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup match against China but it didn’t really matter.
The national team put on a splendid first-half show of free-flowing hockey to trounce China 7-3 and take a step closer to reaching the final.
Goals by Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil (sixth minute), Azlan Misron (eighth), Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin (23rd), Tengku Ahmad Tajudin (26th) and Mohd Shahril Saabah (30th) gave Malaysia a commanding 5-0 half-time lead. Malaysia then added two more goals through Mohd Fitri Saari (45th) and Mohd Firhan Ashaari (62nd) for their biggest win in this tournament.
China, who were totally outplayed in the first 35 minutes, fought back after the breather to score through E Liguang off a penalty corner in the 44th minute before Du Talake netted a brace in the 60th and 66th minutes.
Skipper Azlan, who usually mans the backline, played as a forward in place of the suspended Faizal and was named Man of the Match.
Faizal had to sit out the game as he was handed a one-match suspension for breaking a plastic chair after being flashed a yellow card in the match against Canada on Monday.
But his team-mates made light work of his absence and went for the kill right from the start.
National chief coach K. Dharmaraj was thrilled to see his boys take their chances well.
“It’s good to see seven of my players getting on the score sheet. It was a good win.
“We took a handsome lead in the first-half. Unfortunately, the players failed to maintain the momentum after the breather. This is something we need to rectify,” he said.
Dharmaraj also praised Azlan for doing a good job in the forward line.
“He is a utility player ... he can play well in every department,” said Dharmaraj.
Meanwhile, South Africa came back from a goal down to edge Canada 3-2 for their first win in four matches.
Timothy Drummond (28th), Lungile Tsolekile (33rd) and Julian Hykes (67th) netted for South Africa.
Canada replied through Scott Tupper (12th) and Matthew Guest (49th) but it wasn’t enough to prevent them from suffering a fourth straight defeat.