It was the Saari show for Malaysia as the Saari brothers, Faizal and Mohd Fitri led Malaysia to 5-1 win over debutants, Poland at the opening day of the 28th edition of the Azlan Shah Cup, held in the Azlan Shah Stadium, Ipoh, tonight.A hatrick by Faizal Saari with a goal each by his brother, Fitri and youngster, Mohd Ashran Hamsani made it a fantastic night for the hosts who are gunning for their maiden title since the tournament’s inception in 1983.
They didn’t have to wait long as Faizal’s direct shot from a penalty corner, from the playbook of Taeke Takeema put the hosts in front in the 20th minute.
Takeema, the Dutch penalty corner specialist was here in Kuantan last week, imparting his set-piece know how to the Tigers during a training camp and it instantly paid dividends.
Fitri, younger brother of Faizal then added another eight minutes later, converting a fizzing cross from the left side of the D to put Malaysia 2-0 in front.
The 13th ranked Malaysians extended their lead when Faizal rising shot to the roof of the net from a penalty corner in the 30th minute, but the five times runners up let their guard down in the second quarter injury time when Michal Kasprzyk’s shot from their penalty corner ended the half 3-1.
There was no let up on the assault on world no 21, Poland’s goal with rookie, Ashran letting fly from a penalty corner, six minutes into the third quarter with Faizal ending the night with his third goal from a penalty corner in the 45th minute.
In the other matches, five times champion, India opened their campaign with a 2-0 win over Asian Games gold medalists, Japan through Varun Kumar (24th min) and Simranjeet Singh (55th min).
Two-time champions, South Korea and Canada served up a nine-goal thriller, with the 17th ranked Koreans overcoming Canada, 10th in the FIH world rankings, 6-3.
India 2 Japan 0
Canada 3 South Korea 6
Malaysia 5 Poland 1
Day 2 (tomorrow)
India vs Korea, 4.05 pm
Canada vs Poland, 6.05 pm
Japan vs Malaysia 8.35 pm