The final day of the 10th edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup would decide the final standings as well as who would be the new Champion.
The opening game for 5th and 6th places saw South Africa who on the final day of the round robin matches was playing for a place in the gold medal match, courtesy of the way the results transpired find themselves playing Malaysia to decide who would claim the wooden spoon.
Malaysia has steadily improved as the tournament has progressed and having only finished 6th once before were desperate to claim their first victory of the tournament.
In hot and humid conditions, the match started at a very slow pace and there were a high number of turnovers from both sides. IN the 11th Minute South Africa won a penalty corner that Neil Raath flicked home for his first goal of the tournament.
Within a minute Malaysia had forced a penalty corner of their own and this time it was their captain Mamat who flicked home an equalizer.
Just prior to half time South Africa’s captain Sihle Ngubane blocked Jazmi Jamlus as he entered the circle, carried the ball out, over halfway and all the way into the Malaysia circle, his shot ricocheted up in the air and Hans Neethling was on hand to volley it home to restore South Africa’s lead.
In the 36th minute Neil Raath flicked a penalty corner towards goal, but it was prevented crossing the line by the body of Najmie. Raath stepped up and flicked home the penalty stroke and South Africa had a two-goal advantage.
Shafiq thought he had pulled a goal back for Malaysia, but it was ruled out for a foot from the Malaysians; something the local crowd did not agree with.
Malaysia did pull a goal back from a penalty corner scored by Shahmie in the 56th minute, could they take the game to a shoot-out?
Josh Davies tried a bit of gamesmanship that backfired when a free hit was reversed, and Malaysia broke forward and great skill from Danish Aiman won them a penalty corner with one second left on the clock.
Kamva Dyakala saved the flick and as the ball left the circle the hooter sounded. Malaysia who had the youngest team at the tournament had to settle for 6th place, while South Africa who will look back and think of what might have been claimed fifth.
In the bronze medal match two teams who both had a chance of booking a place in the gold medal match, Japan and Great Britain would face-off.
Japan has only finished third in the tournament once before and that was in 2016 when the defeated England in a shoot-out. Great Britain who came into the tournament as defending Champions had never played off for the bronze medal before. They also knew having lost to Japan in the round robin match that this would be no easy game.
Maybe that is why Great Britain came out firing from the opening whistle and attacked their opponents. This paid dividends as Scotsman Fraser Heigh scored after good work along the baseline by Ben Fox set him up in the second minute. Two minutes later it was a great individual run and shot from James Valley that saw them go 2-0 up.
It remained 2-0 at half time although Japan was coming back into the match at the long break. They continued in this vein after half time and were only denied by a superb save by Yuvraj Bhuhi in goal for Great Britain. Finally, Japan was rewarded for their efforts with a goal from a penalty corner converted by their captain Ikumi Saeki.
Then it was the turn of Japan goalkeeper Takeya Ishida to keep his side in the game with first of all a great double save at a penalty corner and then a subsequent one soon after. However, in the 50th minute after making another save, he could not prevent Jamie Golden flicking home a third goal for Great Britain.
Japan poured forward again and again trying to find a way back but a resolute Great Britain defence held firm and they claimed the bronze medal.
The final would see two nations who have both won the Sultan of Johor Cup twice look to join Great Britain by winning the tournament for a third time, Australia, and India.
These two teams played a thrilling 5- 5 draw in their earlier meeting and were the two highest scorers in the tournament. India had scored five goals in every match they played except one in which they scored four, so one felt that defence was going to be a key to both sides if they wished to lift the cup.
The final lived up to all expectations and was a truly entertaining match with a high level of skill and discipline shown by both teams.
India opened the scoring through Sudeep Chirmako in the 14th minute.
Australia scored late in the first half when Brooks stole possession and Australia counter attacked and Jack Holland fired home.
The second half was a very tight affair with Sudeep Chirmako causing havoc to the Australian defence but they managed to keep India at bay.
The final hooter went, and we were all tied up at 1-1, so we headed into a shoot-out.
Australia went first and missed; India took the lead through Vishnukant only for Liam Hart to pull Australia level. There were two strokes awarded, one to each side which Sharda and Brooks converted and after five attempts each we were tied up at 3-3.
IT went into sudden death and Vishnukant was denied by Snowden in goal for Australia. Hart beat Mohith in goal for India only to see his shot come back off the post. At 4-4 Foster had a chance to win it for Australia but put his effort wide. UP stepped Chirmako9 to score for India on their ninth attempt and he scored. Brooks had to score but could only hit the outside of the goal and India won the 10th edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup.
The Rising Star award went to Max Anderson of Great Britain.
The Top Scorer award to Sharda of India, and the best goalkeeper to Jed Snowden of Australia. Cooper Burns of Australia received the player of the tournament award.