Malaysia knocks India out of the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2017 with a 1-0 win. India had needed to win by a two goal margin to play Australia in the final but never looked like scoring even though they were awarded five penalty corners. A goal by Shahril Saabah via a penalty corner in the 50th minute dealt the killer blow to India who were favoured to win the match. India thus will play New Zealand for the bronze medal with Australia playing Great Britain in the final.
Malaysia, despite the win, will play Japan to avoid the last spot. “We played a patient game knowing very well that India needed to win and will come at us,” said an elated Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen. “The longer the match went scoreless the more confident my players became and there was frustration on the Indian side. “The win gives us a feel good factor and now the players will be more confident in their own ability.”
In an earlier match, Japan shocked defending champions Australia with a brace from Koji Yamasaki to pull off a stunning 3-2 victory. Despite the defeat The Kookaburras were through to their 13th cup final since 1983 as they have a four-goal advantage over second-placed Great Britain who shared 10 equal points with the Australians but inferior goal difference.
Takahiko Yamabori the Japanese coach was naturally elated with the win. “It is our first victory over Australia in our history, I think. I really don’t know what to say as the players had unbelievably played their best match in this tournament,” he said. “Koji is a young player and will surely improve in the future. We came here hoping to win and today we defeated Australia, ranked No 2 in the world. “It is an exciting day for us. Tomorrow we will regroup and play Malaysia and hope to play much better than today
The Australians needed only a draw against Japan but upped the ante with an attacking performance to go 1-0 ahead in the seventh minute through Trent Mitton’s cross into the D was finished by Aaron Kleinschmidt who placed it past goalkeeper Suguru Shimmoto with ease. It was Mitton’s turn to push the Kookaburras forward with the second goal in the 31st minute as the Australians confidently rode on with a 2-0 lead.
Japan, however, earned their first penalty corner in the 41st minute with a rare entry into the Australian fort and Shota Yamada’s shot was well deflected by goalkeeper Tyler Lovell. However, the Japanese were back three minutes later to equalise through Shota. With the score stood at 2-1, Japan produced the most scintillating performance with two quick goals through Koji Yamasaki (56th and 57th minutes) to shock Australia with this win – their first and most memorable in the tournament.
” There were errors in the first two goals and it was due to a defensive mistake. We will look at our own game and prepare for tomorrow’s match,” said Australian coach Colin Batch. “We are quite well in our preparation for this tournament as hopefully we will look forward and get things moving on after this defeat.” In the first match of the day Great Britain pulled off a narrow 3-2 win . ” It gives GB a chance of playing in the final but we will have to wait and see what happens tonight. I will be wearing the Malaysian jersey,” said Britain coach Bobby Crutchley. “There was a lot of positives in the performance and we did enough to score the goals.
“We wanted to move the ball around and give the opposition a run around. “There was outstanding performance from GB and we hope to get a chance of playing in the next high level on Saturday.”
It was Great Britain that dictated terms with the first goal via a penalty corner in the ninth minute. Drag-flick specialist Sam Ward packed a low and rather slow push to the left of goalkeeper Devon Manchester to give the Britons the advantage. New Zealand was rewarded in the 30th minute with a goal from Dominic Newman, but the Britons were back on track with goals from Phil Roper in the 39th minute and Mark Gleghorne to lead 3-1 with 11 minutes remaining. The Black Sticks reduced the deficit in 58th minute from a Kane Russell penalty corner as the score stood 3-2 but it was too late to salvage a draw.
“There was a great deal of precision in this match. We wanted to go and out and do our best against the Britons,” said Kiwi coach Darren Smith. “I thought both teams had a good chance of making through and we respected Great Britain as they have been playing well. “We came to win but there were times we played well and other times we went down. The boys were struggling in the fourth quarter and we decided to play with kicking back.”