Experienced hands combined with youthful vigour. That is the key to Malaysia’s ascendancy at the 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh where they now sit pretty in pole position after two matches.Led by seasoned campaigner, Faizal Saari who leads the scoring charts with five goals, ably assisted by younger brother, Fitri and penalty corner specialist, Razie Rahim, they are beautifully dove tailed with young guns, Nik Aiman Rozemi and Ashran Hamsani.
And the results were devastating as Malaysia began the campaign with a 5-1 thrashing of Poland led by hattrick hero, Faizal and a 4-3 win against Japan last night which also saw Faizal contributing with a brace.
The young guns have also gotten in the act with Nik Aiman opening his account with a field goal last night with Ashran knocking one in through a penalty corner against Poland.
“The quality of the backup players are very good. Even though they are young, they have good confidence levels,” said man of the Match against Japan, Fitri.
“We as seniors encourage them to do their best and tell them not to worry even if they commit mistakes on the field,” added the playmaker.
After collecting maximum points from the two matches, the real test for the Speedy Tigers, ranked 13th in the world will be against the fifth ranked, India, the highest ranked team in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
When asked about his team’s chances of going all the way to the final and ending the 36 year wait of winning their maiden trophy, this is what coach, Roelant Oltmans has to say:
“I don’t like this talk of going to the final and winning it. We always think about the next game.
“Tomorrow, the players will focus their recovery and then we will start thinking about our game against India.
“Our penalty conversion rate has been good, in our game against Poland, from eight attempts we managed to score four while against Japan, we managed to convert our chance from a single attempt.
“Whether, India, Korea or Canada, they are always close matches, at the same time, we have to fight, I have what I have in mind but I won’t share with you now, maybe after the game,” added the wily 64 year old Dutchman during the post-match press conference.
26th March (Tuesday)
Japan vs Canada, 4.05 pm
Poland vs Korea, 6.05 pm
Malaysia vs India 8.35 pm