HANGZHOU – The national hockey squad kept on their winning streak in the mission for Malaysia’s elusive Asian Games gold medal by thrashing Oman 11-1 at the Gongshu Canal Sports Park Stadium here today.
Forward Mohd Ashran Hamsani, 28, emerged hero with a hat-rick in Malaysia’s second Group B match.
Malaysia, ranked 10th in the world, did not take very long to open the score, with Muhammad Razie Abdul Rahim striking in the 3rd minute through a penalty corner.
He went on to double that lead with a penalty stroke in the 11th minute. Two more goals by Mohd Ashran and Shello Silverius in the 14th and 18th minutes respectively put Malaysia 4-0 ahead.
The Speedy Tigers continued to dominate the match, but a lapse in focus allowed Oman, ranked 23rd in the world, to pull one back in the 23rd minute through Fahad Al Lawati, this after Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal was sent to the sin bin following his yellow card for fouling an opponent player.
Oman’s goal only went on to spur the national squad, as A. Arulselvaraj’s charges scored three more goals not long after through Faizal Saari (26th min), Azrai Aizad (29th min) and Mohd Ashran (30th min) for a comfortable 7-1 lead.
In the third quarter, the Speedy Tigers piled more misery on their opponents, with four goals, all within five mins from Najmi Farizal Jazlan (34th min), Mohd Ashran (35th min), Azrai Aizad (36th mins) and Faizal (39th min) with no more goals featured in the last quarter.
This was Malaysia’s biggest win over Oman in eight matches since 2013. They scored 7-0 victories over the same opponent at the Asia Cup 2022, Asian Games 2018 and the second round of the 2014/15 Men’s Hockey World League.
Post-match, Arulselvaraj said despite the huge win, he felt there was still much room for improvement in the squad’s technical play, especially after they failed to score in the last quarter.
“Another big win, with us completing the task with field, penalty corner and penalty stroke goals. My biggest concern is not about the scoring, but getting my players coming out without being injured, so I am glad that there were no major injuries.
“For the next game against Indonesia, we have to ensure our fundamentals are correct because it is not about who we play, but how we play. We play our game and need to continue with our good habits in the next matches,” he said.
After opening their campaign with a 9-0 victory over Thailand two days ago, Malaysia have now taken six full points after two matches.
The Speedy Tigers will play Indonesia next on Thursday, followed by a much tougher tie against South Korea (Sunday) before completing their final group match against host country, China on Monday. – Bernama