27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup – Day 3

Australia make it 3/3 while Malaysia stun Argentina

6 March 2018

Malaysia pulled off a shock 2–1 win over reigning Olympic Champions Argentina. The win moved Malaysia to second spot in the standings with six points, the same with Argentina but the host team have a better goal advantage. The three points will now give Malaysia a chance to vie for a place in the final provided they defeat India and England in their last two matches.

As for Argentina they need to win their matches against England and Australia to have a chance.

Malaysia took the lead in the 21st minute through Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin. Argentina had two penalty corners but while Peillat was denied a shot from the first, the second hit the upright. Having weathered the storm, Malaysia went 2-0 ahead as Najmi Farizal Jazlan Who was lurking on the far post tapped the ball home in the 28th minute. Argentina were awarded a penalty stroke seconds before halftime but the attempt by Pedro Ibbara was well saved by Hafizuddin Othman in the Malaysian goal. It took Argentina only two minutes upon resumption to reduce the decoy through a deflection by Diego Paz. It wasn’t Peillat’s day as he couldn’t make the six penalty corners count for Argentina, primarily due to the heroics of Othman, who also received the man of the match award, in the Malaysian goal.

Earlier Australia kept the 100 per cent win record when they defeated India 4-2. The win gave them nine points as a result of wins over England (4-1), Malaysia (3-1) and now India. With one more win required to book a spot in the final, the Aussies should look to be in a comfortable position. They play Ireland and then Argentina. “The first half was very close. Obviously, the break came in the third quarter and we are pleased with the performance in this quarter”, said Aussie coach Colin Batch. “Lots of lessons for us here today as we are not entirely happy how we finished the game in the last quarter. It could have been better for us. But we must play early tomorrow (4pm) so it is another part of this tournament that we need to recover quickly, and we are ready to go against Ireland tomorrow”.

He added, “We have got to learn to play at 1-0 for a long period and that’s a learning period for our group. We should feel in control of the game regardless of what the scoreboard says. Too often we think we can play well if we hit four of six goals but for us the learning in this tournament is well even at 1-0 we must still win the game”.

The Australian attacking machinery faced difficulty burrowing through a fortified Indian defense. Australia was awarded penalty stroke in the 28th minute and Mark Knowles sent a low and powerful shot to the right of goalkeeper Krishan Pathak to give Australia a 1-0 lead. It was only in the third quarter the Aussies went ahead 2-0. Aran Zalewski put the ball past Charter following a cross from Dylan Wotherspoon in the 35th minute. Daniel Beale netted the third goal (41st) and Blake Govers converted a penalty corner in the 43rd minute for a 4-0 lead. India hit back with two goals, via Ramandeep Singh in the 52nd, and then in the 53rd for a final score of 4-2.

India played well, especially in defense. “Three quarters of the game we were better, and we did not score and one quarter we played with 10 players (yellow and green cards)”, commented Indian coach Sjoerd Majirne. “I told the players that whatever happens we must play the last quarter even better. They did that. Good mentality. We were close by but because of the cards it became more difficult for us and because of their experience they did it well. The positives for me are the performance of how we played today. Really good. We must be realistic as three of the four quarters were good and off course the most important thing is we spoke about the cards and also what we did well on the pitch.”

England registered their first win in three matches after defeating winless Ireland 4-1. With only one point to show before this match, courtesy of the 1-1 draw against India, England played much better and deserved the win. England coach, Bobby Crutchley welcomed the win. “I thought we played very well against a good Irish side. We dominated most parts of the game and I am very pleased”, said Crutchley. “We will improve as the tournament goes on and we will continue to do so. It helps a lot when you got a better game and stay on top with a two-goal lead. He added, “We could have scored a few more but we just missed out on them”.

The English failed to capitalize on four penalty corners that came their way, Barry Middleton’s 15th minute conversion gave them a 1-0 lead. England, after a rather subdued second quarter picked up the pace in the third quarter and doubled the lead in the 37th minute. Phil Roper sent a powerful shot into the circle and Sam Ward steered the ball into goal.

Julian Dale, however, reduced the deficit for Ireland two minutes later from their second penalty corner, giving goalkeeper George Penner no chance whatsoever. Ward extended England’s lead to 3-1 in the 51st minute and Middleton added to the Irish misery by netting the fourth goal in similar fashion in the 60th minute.

For Ireland coach Craig Fulton, each match has shown improvement. “There have been some great improvements. We still need to finish well in our chances. We made one or two collective mistakes at the back which is hurting us, but we are learning”, he said. “We have a tough game against Australia tomorrow and another one after that (India). This is a healthy environment to learn from the games before and what’s gone and try to make a big improvement.”

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