HANGZHOU: The national men’s hockey players sent out an early warning to their rivals in their quest for the gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games by hammering Thailand 9-0 in their opening Group B match at the Gongshu Canal Sports Park Stadium today.
The Speedy Tigers overcame stiff resistance from the Thais early on before stepping up a gear to break the deadlock through Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal in the eighth minute.
A Arul Selvaraj’s men then scored two more goals through Firhan Ashari in the 21st minute and Nik Aiman Nik Rozemi in the 30th minute for a comfortable 3-0 lead at the end of the second quarter.
They then roared to life to go 7-0 up through goals from Nik Aiman (32nd minute), Azrai (34th minute) and Aminudin Zain (43rd and 45th minutes).
Khaliq Hamirin and Amirul Hamizan Azahar completed the rout with penalty corner goals in the 57th and 60th minutes respectively.
A beaming Arul praised his charges for rising to the occasion.
“I couldn’t ask for more from an opening match. Apart from the two cards shown to my players, which I believe were not warranted, I am satisfied with the outcome. We will take it one match at a time,” he said.
Faiz Helmi Jali received a green card in the 29th minute while Muhajir Abdu Rauf was shown a yellow card in the 55th minute.
The Speedy Tigers, who won silver at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games, will face Oman in their second match at the same venue on Tuesday.