Malaysia played one of their finest hockey yet on Day 5 of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, thumping China 7-3. Seven goals by seven players, Malaysia were already leading 5-0 at half-time.
Malaysia had expected to face a tough side as China had nothing to lose. Despite being the lowest ranked in the tournament, China had sprung a couple of surprises in their previous two matches, especially with an impressive 5-nil victory over South Africa.
Added to the mix was the fact that Malaysia had to do without star striker, Faizal Saari, who was slapped with a one-match suspension following the game against Canada, where he reacted poorly by hitting a chair with his stick.
Going into the match, Malaysia were in 3rd place and needed to bag all 3 points with a win to keep their hopes alive for a place in the final.
Malaysia came out fighting from the start. Their close control down the right side of the pitch taunted the Chinese and drew a number of fouls, causing the umpires to step in to calm the players.
Malaysia took an early lead and added a second goal before the 10th minute mark, via a field goal by Mohd. Jalil Muhammad Marhan and a penalty corner by Captain Azlan Misron.
The Chinese, however, looked clueless and sluggish and could not contain the Malaysian forwards who added another 3 goals before half-time.
The second half brought a penalty stroke to Malaysia which was converted bringing the score to 6-0. Then China struck back with a penalty corner via E Liguang.
What an incredible game played from end to end as the Chinese finally found their form. China scored twice again via Du Talake from a penalty stroke and a penalty corner at the 61st and 66th minute, and Malaysia added one more goal to bring the final tally to 7-3.
It was a 10-goal galore that kept fans at the edge of their seats. Malaysia is now in a very strong position to make the final on Sunday, although they will have to first face the strongest team of the tournament, Australia, on Saturday, March 22.