Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Faizal Saari

Malaysia kept their hopes for a place in the second round alive when they defeated United States of America 5-2 at the Johor Bahru Hockey Stadium.

However their performance left much to be desired as they failed to score enough goals even though they were 4-0 up inside the first 12 minutes. And the host country could well rue the missed opportunities if the slot to the second round is decided on goal difference.

This is due to the fact that Spain defeated USA 9-0 while South Korea defeated the Americans 7-0. So the failure to score enough could well come to haunt them at the end of the preliminary rounds.

Knowing that only a win will give them an outside chance of making the semis, Malaysia went on the offensive from the first whistle.

And it took them only 2 minutes to get on the score sheet when Muhd Izzat Mohd Rahim sent in a thunderous reverse stick into the roof of the net.

In the eight minute Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil doubled Malaysia’s advantage before Faizal Saari converted a penalty stroke in the next minute to make it 3-0.

More was to come as the 5,000 odd crowd urged the Malaysian players on and they were duly rewarded when Mohd Shafiq Mohd Zain scored the fourth goal.

Complacency then set into the Malaysians as they allowed USA more possession of the ball with play being centered around the middle of the pitch, both teams failing to mount a serious threat on goal.

And the Malaysian paid the price as USA scored their first goal of the tournament with Nicholas Szoke scoring in the 30th minute. It ended a 170 minutes of goal draught for USA.

Malaysia did not learn their lesson after conceding that goal as the allowed USA to attack and the USA were duly rewarded with their first penalty corner of the tournament as well in the 42nd minute, but nothing came off it.

But USA were not to be denied as Jed Cunningham reacted first to a penalty corner rebound in the 56th minute to reduce the deficit to 4-2.

Faizal Saari then scored his second of the night and Malaysia’s fifth in the 63rd minute of the host country’s first penalty corner of the match.

Meanwhile in an earlier match, Egypt defeated Russia 3-0, with goals from Eslan Basha (32nd minute), Ahmed Sheswaty (58th minute) and Mahmoud Hamde (62nd minute).

In Singapore, South Africa defeated Chile 6-1 while Poland scored in the final minute to edge hosts Singapore 2-1.