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Friday December 21, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia thrived on the deplorable Astroturf pitch to thump Japan 4-1 in their opening match of the Asian Champions Trophy at the Al Rayyan Hockey Stadium in Doha yesterday.
Malaysia, ranked No. 4 in Asia, were expected to struggle against the fifth-ranked Japan.
But from the word go, the confident Malaysians played aggressively.
They took only three minutes to take the lead through forward Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin. Fourteen minutes later, forward Faizal Saari made it 2-0 by converting a penalty corner.
Three minutes before the interval, forward Hafifihafiz Hanafi scored a field goal for a comfortable 3-0 lead at half-time.
Malaysia continued to deploy an attacking game in the second half. But they had to wait until the 58th minute to score goal number four through defender Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim’s penalty conversion.
Like in previous tournaments, Malaysia continued to suffer from lapses in concentration. Japan capitalised to score a consolation goal through Toshihiro Tachibana in the 65th.
National coach Paul Revington was extremely pleased with the team’s performance.
“It was a good start for us as we managed to score four goals against a very speedy and highly-rated Japanese side,” said the coach in a telephone interview from Doha.
“The players overcame the uneven and bumpy turf to score goals and this is definitely an indication that they can play well on this rather bad pitch. I am also happy that we scored twice from the three penalty corners,” added Revington.
On today’s match against Oman, Revington said: “They have players with big physique and they play a robust match. I expect the players to keep improving and score as many goals as possible in our remaining matches.”
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