PETALING JAYA: Skipper Razie Rahim scored a hattrick to steer Malaysia to a convincing 4-1 win over Ireland in their opening match in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
The 30-year-old found his mark in the fourth, 24th and 44th minutes while Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin scored in the ninth as Malaysia opened in rousing style at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh yesterday.
Ireland, ranked 10th in the world, started the match strongly, earning a penalty corner inside the first minute.
But they couldn’t convert and Malaysia swiftly punished them on the counter-attack three minutes later.
Razie intercepted the ball from his half before galloping forward to coolly finish past Irish goalkeeper Jamie Carr in the fourth minute.
Malaysia then doubled the lead as Tengku Ahmad found the net five minutes later in a goalmouth melee.
Razie then doubled his tally in the 24th minute through a penalty corner before completing his hattrick, through another penalty corner in the 44th minute.
Ireland pulled one back in the 52nd minute through a field effort by Kirk Shimmins.
But world No. 12 Malaysia, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, finished strongly for a dream start.
The win will certainly boost Malaysia’s confidence ahead of their clash with world champions Australia today.
Earlier, nine-time champions Australia got off to a flying start by hammering defending champions England 4-1.
World No. 1 Australia were in commanding form and got their goals through Dylan Wotherspoon (15th minute), Blake Govers (19th), Aaron Kleinschmidt (28th) and Lachlan Sharp (39th).
England, who held Australia 2-2 during the World League Finals last December, replied through Phil Roper in the 25th minute.
The win was sweet revenge for the Aussies who fell to a shock 4-3 defeat to England in last year’s final.
“We knew it was going to be a hard game as it’s always very close with the English,” said Australia’s head coach Colin Batch.
“Right now, we’re thinking about recovering and getting some rest before we face Malaysia tomorrow.
“Malaysia are a good team to play and we look forward to that as part of our Commonwealth Games preparation,” he said.
In the first match of the day, Olympic champions Argentina shrugged off a 40-minute delay due to a heavy downpour to edge India 3-2.
Penalty corner specialist Gonzalo Peillat was the star for Argentina as he scored a hattrick (13th, 24th and 33rd) while India replied through Amit Rohidas (26th and 31st). India take on England in their next match while Argentina go up against the Irish.
Argentina bt India 3-2
Australia bt England 4-1
Malaysia bt Ireland 4-1
¦ TODAY’S MATCHES
India vs England 4pm
Ireland vs Argentina 6pm
Malaysia vs Australia 8.30pm
(Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium, Ipoh)