27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup – Day 2 Review

5 March

Australia and Argentina continued their winning ways by registering wins over Malaysia and Ireland respectively as India and England picked up their first points in day two of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. A total of 14 goals, one short of the first day, were scored but what was more interesting was that the quality of matches as there was no great disparity amongst the teams.

The teams will take a day’s break on Monday and play will resume on Tuesday.

In the first match of the day, India and England registered their first points of the tournament after drawing 1-1. Both teams went into the match looking for their first win after suffering defeats in Saturday’s opening encounters. India went down 3-2 against Argentina while England lost 4-1 to Australia. Midfielder Shilanand Lakra gave India the lead with in 14th minute only for Mark Gleghorne to convert a penalty stroke in the 52nd minute share the spoils. India won 9 penalty corners in the match but were unfortunate to convert any of them, mostly thanks to the heroics by the English goal keeper, George Pinner. “We had a lot of penalty corners and although we did not convert any, I am happy we created them,” said Indian coach Sjoerd Marijne.

England had 18 circle entries but failed to make them count. “It was a close game and the good thing is England kept the effort and intensity up, said England coach Bobby Crutchley. “We got a lot of ball in their circle and we just have to get better in converting some of these chances.  That is what this tournament is about. I think there will be a lot of close games and close results and we hope to improve as we get along.”

In the second match, Argentina registered their second consecutive win. The man of the hour, Gonzalo Peillat, scoring his second consecutive hat trick, scoring 3 out of 4 penalty corners earned by the Olympic Champions. Argentina clawed back from a two-goal deficit early on in the match. However, four goals in 10 minutes saw the Argentines end the half in a comfortable position. Peillat and Gleghorne scored for Argentina and Ireland respectively, ending the match 5-3 in favor of the South American side.

“In the first quarter Ireland were really good and tough and started with the two goals”, said Argentina coach Rolando Rivero. “However in the second quarter we adjusted our game plan and I think we did it right to score those goals. “It is not that we did something wrong in the first quarter but Ireland payed much better”. Speaking ahead of their next match, he added, “For our next match against Malaysia we will try to improve. We know it’s going to be tough with Malaysia having home ground advantage. Malaysia plays really well and tough and we are looking forward to it.”

Ireland, surprised their far more illustrious opponents by taking a two-goal lead after 17 minutes of play. Shane O’ Donoghue picked a rebound off goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi’s pads in the 12th minute to put the Green Machines ahead. Five minutes later Sean Murray created a magnificent run, maneuvering his way past a fortified Argentinean defense before unleashing a powerful shot past Vivaldi. But the euphoria in the Irish camp was quickly doused with a brace from drag-flick specialist Gonzalo Peillat via penalty corner conversions (20th and 23rd minutes), Lucas Vila’s field goal (22nd minute) and Juan Gilardi’s penalty stroke conversion (30th minute) as Argentina took charge of the match. Argentina went 5-2 up following Peillat’s third penalty corner conversion in the 47th minute but Ireland made a late gate push through Magee eight minutes before the end of play from a field goal to narrow the gap at 5-3.Compared to our match against Malaysia it was a good response from the players and the mentality was good”, said Ireland coach Craig Fulton.

In the last game of the day, Australia defeated Malaysia 3-1. The win gives the Aussie top spot in the pool with six points from two consecutive wins. Malaysia found their rhythm in the match and gained control of the ball, but couldn’t break the defenses of the strong Australian side. Australia stamped their mark from the first whistle and deservingly went ahead when Corey Weyer converted their first penalty corner in the 10th minute. Just 45 seconds before the end of the second quarter Australia scored their second goal through Dylan Wotherspoon.

Malaysia were denied a penalty corner goal in the third quarter when Razie Rahim scored but the ball was adjudged not to have left the semi-circle upon Video Referral. Australia then got their third goal in the 43rd minute though Aron Kleinschmidt. Marhan Jalil reduced the deficit in the 53rd minute but they ran out of time to trouble the Aussies.

Play resumes on Tuesday as the European neighbors, England and Ireland open the day, followed by India taking on a strong Australian side, both of which play a very fast paced attacking game. Last but not the least, the hosts will take on Argentina and try to break the defenses and hope not to give away any shot corners.

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