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2007 Men's Asia Cup
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Malaysia makes a winning start on its 50th Nationa (8/31/2007)
--K. Arumugam
Malaysia swamps traditional rival Singapore 8-0 in the BSNL Asia Cup opener in the wee hours of Friday at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium in Chennai. In fact both the matches in the morning session witnessed one-sided contests, so tyypcial of scenario obtaining in the contemporary, stagnated Asian hockey scenario.

In the second match, Bangladesh outplayed novice Thailand for a fluent 13-0 win.

In the first match the Malaysians led 3-0 at half time. Terming today’s victory is significant, the Malaysian manager P. Tamilselvan said that today is their country's fiftieth National day and were very much concerned not to do anything that would spoil the mood of the nation. And expressed happiness the way the things turned out in the end of the day. He and Azlon Misron, his captain, displayed their national flag at the end of the press conference, much to the applause of journalists present.

Tamilselvan was also happy that despite coming only yesterday and the turf at flanks are 'slippery', his team could score many goals in the second half, three in last five minutes in particular. However, captain Misron felt that his team could not play as was expected, especially with penalty corners. Malaysia earned seven but converted only two.

Despite conceding an early goal in the third minute, the Singaporeans held on the marauding Malaysian at bay for better part of the first half, but ran out of steam in the second session. Wingers of Malaysia Ismail Abu at right and Tajuddin on the other, created many scoring chances, but the scoring was eluding due to shoddy trapping and hitting by others in the circle.

All Singapore could do was to earn a penalty corner in the whole of match, that too ended fruitless. Md. Rejab Zulkifli who scored a brace of goals through penalty corner conversions, was declared the Man of the Match.

Malaysian scorers: Zulkifli (2, 3rd, 46th), Azlan Misron (2, 48th, 68th), Megat Azrafiq (1, 22nd), former captain Chua Bon Huat (2, 67th & 70th) Ismail Abu(1, 33rd)

Second Match:

Riding on the scoring prowess of Md. Rasel (four goals) and Md. Mamun (three goals), Bangladesh outwitted hapless Thailand 13-0 amidst bright morning sunshine. The victors led 4-0 in the first half, while the goals rained in the next. Mahmud Rasel was declared Man of the Match.

India is hosting the Asia Cup second time in its two and half old annals, first time being New Delhi in 1989, where the hosts finished the runners up to Pakistan. Unlike in the previous occasions, the current Asia Cup lacks a bit of glamous as the winner won't qualify for the World Cup. But the interest lies how much points the teams can gather and it assumes some significance as a better ranking int he FIH global chart could ensure decent pool in the forthcoming Olympic qualifiers next year.

Except winning the SAF games and the Chief Minister Cup in the last decade, India is yet to register a winning show here at the Major Radhakrishnan stadium, certainly the best one in India at the moment. Will the present team would change the trend and do something worthwhile is what interests the local fans.

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