Day 3 of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2017

Defending champions Australia and Great Britain pulled three points clear

2 May

Defending champions Australia and Great Britain are on 7 points with Australia occupying top spot due to superior goal difference. Australia clawed back from a goal down to defeat India  3-1 while Britain edged Malaysia 1-0. The win was hard work for the Aussies and this was acknowledged by coach Colin Batch.

“We started off slow and regrouped in the second quarter and I think we had a good game overall against India,” said Colin. “In this kind of heat it’s always difficult to give a 100 percent on the field and the same goes to India.  “We made some changes after our matches against New Zealand and this made a lot of difference today.  “The last two games have been good for us but we still need to improve in our penalty corners and we are getting there slowly.”

In a counter attack by the Australians, India’s No 1 goalkeeper P. Sreejesh came off hid line to stop Eddie Ockenden from taking a shot and in the process suffered a right knee injury.  He was replaced Akash Chikte. It was India who took the lead in the 26th minute through Harmanpreet Singh whose shot was deflected in by defender Andrew Philpott . Australia equalised four minutes later Jeremy Hayward ‘s powerful shot bounced off the pads of Akash and into the path of Ockenden who had no trouble scoring. Tom Craig doubled the advantage in the 34th minute with a reverse stick shot past Akash. Australia extended their lead to 3-1 thanks to a brilliant individual effort from Tom Wickham .

Indian coach Roelant Oltmans  admitted that they had much work to do on the pitch to correct mistakes.

” It is too early to say how serious is Sreejesh injury. We need to go into the details later today He suffered a right knee injury,@ said Oltmans. “We slowed down after scoring the first goal but I don’t know why the third goal came. “The players were surprised as they thought there was an infringement.  “But there is no reason for that and they should have just played on. “Basically it was not the best part of our game and we will see how things go in our next matches. I don’t want to say much about the final as it is still early.”

Great Britain overcame a gritty Malaysian team to register a 1-0 win that put them second in the standings behind Australia. Still smarting from the 6-1 defeat against the Australians, the hosts were however never posed much of a threat to the British due to their defensive tactics. Britain took the lead in the 26th minute as Alan Forsyth converted a penalty stroke. They however failed to make use of the seven penalty corners in the match and were also thwarted by some great goalkeeping by S. Kumar.

” We are Glad to get all three points as it was uncertain till the final minute,” said Britain coach Bobby Crutchley. We obviously need to do more work on our penalty corner conversions.”

The defeat kept Malaysia at the bottom of the standings.

“They did their best but failed to make use of the chances we created,” said Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen. “We still gave two more matches to get points for a better position in the classification.”

In the first match of the day New Zealand got all three points after edging Japan 3-2 in an entertaining match. The win will boast their chances for at least a podium finish. Obviously delighted with the win, New Zealand coach Darren Smith was happy with the manner in which his team showed fighting spirit. “Japan never gives up and they did the same against Malaysia and Great Britain.,” said a relieved Darren. “That has been their quality and we were certainly under pressure towards the end.

“But I believe we played some good hockey in the second and third quarters to set up a great game against Malaysia tomorrow.

“Now that we have four points I would like to see this team move up with more positive results in the next two matches.”

New Zealand faced mounting pressure from a fast-improving Japan in the first quarter.

It took Japan,just nine minutes into the game to lead the Black Sticks as Shota Yamada blasted the ball past Devon Manchester from a field goal

The Kiwis were least perturbed with the deficit and bounced back nine minutes later via a penalty corner as Kane Russell placed the ball past goalkeeper Suguru Shimmoto with little problem to level score 1-1.

Needing a win more than a draw, the Black Sticks continued their foray at blistering pace and won a penalty stroke two minutes into the third quarter when Wilcox McKenzie was brought down in the semi circle.

Kane stepped up and made it 2-1.

New Zealand went 3-1 ahead in the 35th minute and this time it was Sam Lane, lehi slot it past replacement goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa.

Japan upped the ante in the last few minutes to reduce the deficit to 3-2 from their seventh penalty corner through Shota – his third goal in three matches.

” My players did their best in every game including against New Zealand,” said Japanese coach Takahiko Yamabori.

“We came here to win and learn more but I am not so happy with the results.

“I think we could have done better especially today.

“As for the penalty stroke that was not given towards end of the game, I will not dispute it as it is the umpire’s decision and we abide with it. We need to score goals after creating chances and that is more important for us.”


Photo Credits: Sultan Azlan Shah Official Website

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