On Friday, March 9, the fifth day of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Australia completed the round-robin stage with a 3-1 win over Argentina. Argentina were on course to secure a place in the final when they took the lead through Gonzalo Peillat via a penalty corner in the 21st minute. But the World Champions replied with three successive field goals. The goals, two from Aaron Kleinschmidt and one from Trent Mitton, meant that Australia topped the standings, winning all five of their matches.
Ireland ended its poor run when the team came twice from behind to beat India 3-2. A goal from Ramandeep Singh, following a penalty corner in the 10th minute, gave India the lead. Ireland equalised through Shane O’Donoghue only for India to regain the lead from another penalty corner by Amit Rohidas. Ireland replied with 2 goals from Sean Murray and Lee Cole in the third quarter, giving the Irish team its first win of the tournament.
There was much anticipation in the final match of the day between Malaysia and England. Fans filled the stadium despite the rainy weather. Both teams knew that a win would send them through to the finals following Argentina’s defeat to Australia.
As the match got on the way, fans were cheering the Malaysian side hoping the players would upstage the 7th ranked team in the world. However, any hope of a win for the Speedy Tigers was dashed as the English showed their class as they outplayed the home team 7-2.
Mark Gleghorne, Barry Middleton and Sam Ward each scored 2 goals while Ollie Willars grabbed one of his own as England took a commanding 7-0 lead in the fourth quarter. Malaysia got two consolation goals through Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Marhan Jalil but were not enough to make up for the players’ dismal performance. The Man of the Match award went to England’s Barry Middleton.
Coach Stephen van Huizen expressed his disappointment with the result. “We started the game well but once the first goal went in, and after conceding another two very quick goals, the game was over. I’m very proud of the boys. They didn’t keep their head down at 7-0 and managed to get two goals back. It was a small consolation. They kept fighting till the very end even though it’s all over,” he added.
The result meant that Malaysia will square-off with Argentina for the 3rd and 4th placings while England will take on Australia in the final. The finals of the 27th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup will be played on Saturday, March 10 at the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Stadium Ipoh.
Fixtures are as follow:
India vs Ireland (for fifth and sixth place) at 3.30 pm. Argentina vs Malaysia (for third and fourth place) at 6 pm. England vs Australia (final) at 8.30 pm.