GOAL FEST ON THE WAY TO LAST EIGHT
Malaysia thump Fiji to set up match against Sri Lanka
THERE was never a moment of doubt as Malaysia hammered Fiji 11-1 to top Group A in the World League Round Two in Dhaka, Bangladesh, yesterday.
Coach Stephen van Huizen’s men will play Group B bottomplaced team Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
China beat Sri Lanka 5-1 yesterday, and Malaysia can expect another goal fest in the quarterfinals.
From the start, World No 13 versus World No 51 was a mismatch as Shahril Saabah scored in the first minute to cement that fact.
Shahril went on to score three more, in the 12th, 23rd and 59th minutes to become the tournament’s top-scorer with five goals.
The other goals were scored by Rashid Baharom (third, 22nd), Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (10th), Fitri Shaari (11th, 55th, 58th) and Razie Rahim (17th).
Fiji scored their consolation goal through Jerome Edwards in the 29th minute.
Malaysia rotated all their 17 players and used second goalkeeper Hairi Rahman for the match, to prepare for the knockout, basically a potential semifinal against China.
Like all previous matches, and even when hosts Bangladesh are playing, only about 100 fans turned up to watch the World League action despite the stadium smack in the city centre where its sidewalks are packed with people walking three shoulder-to-shoulder.
“We played very well for a highscoring win, but I’m a little worried about the fact that we have yet to face any tough opponents in the group stages,” said Malaysia skipper Shukri Mutalib.
Malaysia scored a total of 20 goals and conceded two in three matches so far.
“We will have another easy game against Sri Lanka in the quarters before we face a possible China in the semis and that should be the toughest game for us.
“As for China, they have played Egypt (drew 2-2 and China lost in shoot-out) to prepare themselves.
“We have only had soft opponents, and that’s really bugging my mind,” said Shukri.
As for Shahril, being the tournament’s top-scorer is far from his mind.
“My aim is to help the team win matches and being the top-scorer is secondary.
“If it happens along the way, it’s fine, but my priority is also to find penalty corners and set up other strikers to score and not become selfish for a personal target,” said Shahril.
Malaysia players (in orange) lay siege to the Fiji defence during their World League Round Two match in Dhaka yesterday.