Australia in final, glorious night for Malaysia

World No 1 Australia over powered a resilient Japan 3-1 to advance to the final of the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

14 April 2015

Ipoh, Malaysia (13 April, 2016): World No 1 Australia over powered a resilient Japan 3-1 to advance to the final of the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and hosts Malaysia spiked Pakistan’s stromg comeback with a solitary goal victory in Ipoh today.

This will be Australia’s 11th appearance in the final since the inception of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 1983. They emerged champions eight times and runner-up trice, the last being in 2015 following a 3-1 defeat to the Kiwis in penalty shoot-out.

As for the Malaysians, it was just another night of fright for home fans that had to endure breath-taking moments especially in the last 10 minutes of play as the Pakistanis came charging from all corners and angles in search of the equaliser first, and then the winning goal.
(Sports Media Group Australia)
Australia’s Jamie Dwyer attempts to get past Japan goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa in the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia today.Australia won 3-1.

It was also a glorious night for Malaysian goalkeeper Abd Rahman Hairi who had ‘caged’ Pakistan’s marauding forward line from scoring as many chances that came their way, some just within a flick of the ball.

This is the second time Malaysia had defeated Pakistan in three years, the last being at 2013 World League Semi-finals in Johor Baru with a 3-1 winning score. For all their efforts tonight Malaysia moved up to fourth in the table standings with eight points and through to featuring in the third-fourth playoff on Saturday.

Reigning world champion Australia is on top of the pool with five 15 points from five wins while New Zealand are second (11) and India third (9) followed by Canada in fifth (5) and face Australian on Friday. The Pakistanis are almost at rock bottom in sixth position with three points and Japan last (0).

The Australians were on top of the game and deservingly took the lead two minutes into the second quarter when Jamie Dwyer’s shot was too hot to handle by goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa while Blake Govers added the second goal in the 30th minute.

Dwyer, 37, was on target again in the 36th minute to make it 3-0 but Japan reduced the deficit a minute later when Kentaro Fukuda deflect a penalty corner attempt into goal. Tough the Australians won 3-1 they have lot of work to do in terms of penalty corner conversions which eluded them terrible today. They had 10 penalty corners but succeeded in one.

There were periods we got our structure right. Part of the game, we were awful. It was disappointing and frustrating as a coach. We have to reassess our game against Canada on Friday,” said Australian head coach Graham Reid.

Nick Wilson had earlier derailed India’s plans of taking a giant step into the final when the defending champions clawed back to pull a 2-1 victory in their last match today.

With this win, New Zealand moved to second position with 11 points from six matches. Last year’s bronze medallists India are third with nine points from five matches. India can still feature in the final should they beat Malaysia in their last match on Friday.
(Sports Media Group Australia)
India’s Mandeep Singh celebrates after scoring India’s goal  against New Zealand in the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia today. New Zealand won 2-1.

Inspired by the turn out of more than 7,000 fans, the Malaysians got off to a rousing start by taking a quick look at the Pakistani goalmouth in less than three minutes. The hosts were awarded a penalty corner and skipper Razie Rahim was unchallenged as he packed a powerful low push to the left of goalkeeper Imran Butt. It also signalled the start of what is to be an explosive night between the two sides.

Pakistan’s Ahmad Ajaz was given a glorious chance to put his side level in the 33rd minute and he had only Abdul Rahman to beat but the keeper did well to stop the first hit and a rebound from the Pakistani striker.

India’s head coach Roelant Oltmans was forced to parade goalkeeper Harjot Singh after Akash Chikte injured himself during a warm-up session minutes before start of the match.  The Indians got the first penalty corner five minutes into the second quarter but Ramandeep Singh’s attempt was deflected away by goalkeeper Devon Manchester.

Kane Russell gave New Zealand the lead in the 28th minute after defender Manpreet Singh had mistakenly deflected the ball into his own goal in his attempt to clear the ball away but the Indians were back in the game via Mandeep Singh’s 36th minute equaliser  in a goalmouth melee.

The Black Sticks were gifted with a golden opportunity in the 41st minute after a poor clearance by Harmanpreet Singh which allowed Wilson to rob the ball and put past Harjot as New Zealand celebrated a 2-1 victory.

A disappointed Oltmans said India could not produce the energy it had exhibited in earlier matches as temperature raised up to 37 degrees Celsius.

“I’m disappointed with the loss. We had our chances that we could not convert. The hot and humid conditions took a lot out of the boys and we were not able to get the energy we had shown in our earlier matches,” said Oltmans, who praised New Zealand for overcoming the conditions better.

“I have a lot of respect for New Zealand, who’ve played three matches in the afternoon during the past four days,” said Oltmans.

New Zealand’s coach Colin Batch said his players showed good signs and the reward was a victory over India, adding that it was hotter today than on Tuesday.

“The players only get some relief when the sun goes behind the clouds,” said Batch. “We did not do that very well for a period in the second half, but came back strongly to dictate the game in the last quarter,” said Batch.

New Zealand will have a two-day break to recover from the effects of the energy-sapping matches the whole week before the medal play-offs on Saturday.

“Whether we play in the final or not is out of our hands. We will closely observe the results on Friday between Malaysia and India,” he said.

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