Johor Baru (1 Oct, 2016): Japan bounced back from a lacklustre performance against Australia on Monday to beat New Zealand 4-1 today and Pakistan saw its game tearing apart against England before pulling off a 2-2 draw in the Sultan of Johor Cup at Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here.
Koji Yamasaki scored a brace via penalty corners in the 19th and 25th minutes and Kyohei Ogawa increased Japan’s lead to 3-0 by the 28th minute. New Zealand had two opportunities in the first half but squandered both.
Oliver Logan pulled one back for the Kiwis in the 64th minute from a penalty corner but Japan pushed through with all breath for the fourth goal though Kaito Tanaka before the hooter.
Host Malaysia blew away the best chance to beat Australia after taking a 2-1 lead going into the final minutes but allowed the Australians to come back and forced a 2-2 draw.
A disappointed New Zealand coach Bryce Collins, said: “After the defeat against Pakistan we were expecting a win over Japan today but they (Japanese) played a much better game. We will take a valuable lesson from this to the Junior World Cup in India.”
Kyoiche Nagaya, the Japanese head coach, lamented that the 0-6 defeat against the Australians had in a way proved to be an ‘inspiration’ to his players to get back on track in the SOJC.
“We learned from that defeat and it was something that had really moved the players to perform better against New Zealand,” he said. Japan meets England next on Wednesday.
Pakistan slowed down defending champions England’s march here with two late goals from Sami Ullah in the 63rd minute and a penalty corner strike from Mahmood Abu in the 69th minute after Will Calnan gave the Englishmen a 2-0 lead with penalty corner goals in the 12th and 39th minutes.
England, who had defeated Malaysia 3-1 on Monday, were lucky to have escaped with a point had Shakeel Butt not fumbled a penalty stroke awarded five minutes to the end.
“It was a good comeback for Pakistan in this match to get more points. We play Malaysia tomorrow and expect a tough encounter as matches against the Malaysians have always been difficult,” said Pakistan head coach Tahir Zaman.
“Our fitness level and commitment made a lot of difference especially in the last 10 minutes against England.”
The Malaysians got off well and were on track to register their first win in three matches after Aiman Nik Rozemi, who flicked the ball past goalkeeper Ashleigh Thomas in the 39th minute, put the host ahead.
Australia, however, rallied back to equalise through Tom Craig in the 58th minute, packing a powerful shot past goalkeeper Zaimi Mat Deris, but Zulhamizam Awang Abas made it 2-1 for the Malaysians. Kiran Arunasalam, however, brought a huge sigh of relieve to the Australians with a field goal four minutes to the end.
“Today was better that yesterday but we must look to improve our game against Pakistan. I think the equaliser came from a high flick where the attacker was less than five yards, but we should have snatched the points nevertheless,” said Malaysia’s coach Wallace Tan.
“Pakistan will be another tough match. I didn’t see them play but if they can comeback against England to draw, I believe they have a good side. Pakistan are technically good and have a good fighting spirit,” added Wallace.
Australian coach, Ben Bishop, observed: “We must improve the finishing. It’s always good to play New Zealand in the next game but we have to very cautious. Surely, they are out to bounce back after losing against Japan.”