GOAL FEST ON THE WAY TO LAST EIGHT

Malaysia thump Fiji to set up match against Sri Lanka

New Straits Times - - Sport - JUGJET SINGH jug jet@nst.com.my

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.

PIC COUR­TESY OF BANGLADESH HOCKEY FED­ER­A­TION

Malaysia play­ers (in orange) lay siege to the Fiji de­fence dur­ing their World League Round Two match in Dhaka yes­ter­day.

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