Malaysia sailed smoothly in their opening Group B match as they dispatched Kazakhstan 16-2 at the GBK Hockey Stadium.
There was no hiccup as happened in the 1994 Games in Hiroshima. This time the Malaysians kept full control of the game and walked off easy winners as they opened their campaign for an Olympic berth.
Malaysia 12 in the world ranking are effectively the second seed in the tournament after fifth-ranked India.There were initial fears that the Malaysians may make it hard on themselves although Kazakhstan is a late replacement for China.
But the fear was unfounded.
National skipper Mohamad Sukri Abdul Mutalib said that it was a good start and pleasing to see the players scoring both field and penalty corner goals.
“It was a good effort all round. We kept to the structure and managed to keep control of the match. There were a couple of instances where we let our guard down. That resulted in the two goals. We will review the video on that and rectify the mistakes. But it was not a worrying matter for now,” he said.
The opening match jitters disappeared as the Malaysians scored an early goal. They gained a penalty corner in the first minute and Faizal Saari scored with a direct flick.
There was some struggle after that but in the sixth minute they Malaysians increased their lead with another penalty corner goal which was taken by defender Faiz Helmi Jali.
From then on, the Malaysians camped themselves in the Kazakhstan half and scored three goals more in the first quarter.
It was also refreshing to see the Malaysians move the ball well and keep up the attack. Their efforts’ paid off as they scored no less than nine penalty corners from 14 attempts in the game. They also scored six goals from 17 shots at goal.
Muhammad Razie Abd Rahim was on target in the seventh minute while Nik Muhammad Aiman Nik Rozemi scored a brace in the eighth and 12th minutes.
But before the first quarter ended the Malaysians allowed the Kazakhstan team to gain a penalty corner in the 14th minute and that resulted in a penalty stroke. Aman Yelubayev converted the stroke.
In the second quarter, the Malaysians went back to their goal-scoring ways as they hit in another four for a 9-1 first-half lead.
Muhammad Shahril Saabah scored a brace in the 19th and 20th minutes from the penalty corners while Meor Muhamad Azuan Hassan and Syed Mohamad Syafiq Syed Cholan added the other goals in the 22nd and 30th minutes respectively.
Three minutes into the second half, Razie Rahim was successful with his penalty corner flick to give Malaysia their 10th goal.
Malaysia’s senior striker Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil added his name to the scoresheet with a field goal in the 37th minute.
But it was only a matter of time specialist flicker Razie Rahim increased his tally.
He scored another two penalty corners in the 42nd, 47th and 55th minutes to take his tally to five.
Faizal Saari earned his hattrick with goals in the 43rd and 52nd minutes.
Ilgam Abdulbayev scored a consolation goal Kazakhstan in the 54th minute to complete the match 16-2.
Malaysia will play Thailand next on Wednesday and they look set for another three points.