World Champions Australia broke the hearts of Malaysian fans with a convincing 8-3 win over the home team to lift their eighth Sultan Azlan Shah Cup title at Stadium Azlan Shah in Ipoh on Sunday evening, March 23.
Going into the tournament, the defending champions were clear favourites as they were a class above the six competing teams. Instructions from Coach K. Dharmaraj for the Malaysian boys were to play as well as they could, and to not let in too many goals.
In the first half, Malaysia seemed a little lost and whatever confidence they had was shattered when Australia converted a penalty corner six minutes into the game. Australia followed up with a field goal in the 11th minute, which was credited to Eddie Ockenden.
Australia managed to score from another penalty corner in the 17th minute making it 3-nil in the Aussies’ favour. This did much to shake the Malaysians up. They played better hockey subsequently, boosted by the cheering of the home fans. To their delight, Malaysia were awarded with a penalty corner at the 24th minute. Aussie keeper Andrew Charter saved the shot by Ahmad Kazamiril but Shahril Saabah slammed home the rebound.
Down 1-3, in the second half, Malaysia started strongly and netted a magnificent field goal via Rashid Baharom just five minutes into the match. Australia counter-attacked and converted three penalty corners, in the 42nd, 46th and 52nd minute.
In the 65th minute, Matt Gohdes scored Australia’s seventh goal. With just ten minutes left on the clock, Malaysia continued to fight bravely, and were able to reduce the deficit with a field goal by Fitri Saari. In the dying minutes, Tristan White’s field goal brought Australia’s final tally to 8-3 dashing any hopes of a comeback by the local boys.
Australia’s win meant that Malaysia had to play second fiddle yet again, and for the fifth time.