KUALA LUMPUR: Forward Shahril Saabah starred with a four-goal show in Malaysia’s 11-1 drubbing of Fiji in their final Group A match of the World Hockey League Round Two.
The 22-year-old started the rout with a field goal after only two minutes at the Maulana Bhansani National Hockey Stadium in Dhaka yesterday. He was again on target in the 12th, 23rd and 59th minutes.
Midfielder Fitri Saari chalked up a hat-trick, scoring in the 11th, 55th and 58th minutes while Rashid Baharom added a brace in the third and 22nd minutes. Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (10th) and Mohamed Razie Rahim (17th) netted one each.
World No.44 Fiji’s consolation goal came through Jerome Edwards in the 29th minute.
All in, Malaysia scored six field goals, four penalty corners and a penalty stroke.
Malaysia topped the four-team group with nine points, having earlier beaten hosts Bangladesh 3-0 and Oman 6-1.
Malaysia will face winless Sri Lanka, the bottom side of Group B, in tomorrow’s quarter-finals.
National coach Stephen van Huizen was pleased with the performance as the players made good use of the chances that came their way.
“It’s pleasing to note that the players are showing improvement in their moves. It was a game that we had the better of our opponents. We used all our players and gave them more time on the pitch.
“Our focus is on the quarter-finals, but I’m glad the players did not let up or take it easy,” said Stephen.
He was also quite satisfied with the penalty corner conversion rate with Malaysia scoring four out of 12 attempts.
Stephen said the execution was a little better compared to the first two matches.
“Of course we would have liked to see more resulting in goals. But overall we had goals from all situations. We are not dependent on just the field goals.
“The important thing is that we are injury-free after three matches. All the players will be available for the last-eight match.
“Sri Lanka may not have won a match but we will not under-estimate them. They can play well and we need to step up and not put undue pressure on ourselves,” said Stephen.
At world No. 13, Malaysia are seeded to win the tournament. In contrast, Sri Lanka are ranked No. 41. Both countries have met 12 times. Malaysia have won 10 and drew one.