Saturday, April 9, 2016

Australia's three-minute blitz...

MALAYSIA were beaten 5-1 by World No 1 Australia in a three-minute blitz, in the 25th Edition of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
  Otherwise, the national players played well to contain more than a dozen deadly attacks from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics favourites.
  "I have no complaints on this match as my players gave their best but lost out in a three-minute lapse of concentration. My players also did not defend the entire game but came out and played good hockey upfront.
  "The next match against Canada on Tuesday will be after a two-day rest and I believe we will make amends to keep ourselves afloat in this tournament," said Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen.
  Australia skipper Mark Knowles, who will be playing in his fourth Olympics in Brazil said: "Well this is what we wanted. We got a very good crowd, and a team which was willing to fight with us all the way."
  And he felt the they are on the right track to play in the final: "Ten goals in two matches (they also beat India 5-1) and we are heading in the right direction to play against tough sides like Pakistan and New Zealand."
  The Azlan Shah Stadium was filled to the brim, with fans sitting and standing elbow-to-elbow. The cheering, drums and vuvuzelas were deafening, as they cheered on the hosts who held Australia at bay in the first quarter.
  It was 15 minutes of 'hell' as Australia took at least eight shots at the Malaysian goalmouth, but stout defending, and good goalkeeping by Hairi Rahman stopped the World No 1.
 And Malaysia did not disappoint their fans, as off their first penalty corner in the 24th minute, Razie Rahim scored and the cheering almost brought down the roof.
  However, Australia quickly re-grouped after that, and a mis-hit by Jacob Whetton in the 26th minute handed them the equaliser.
  At the half-time break, world No 13 Malaysia held the World No 1 at 1-1.
  However, after missing many chances, Australia finally got their world class act together and scored three quick goals to seal the match in the third quarter.
  Two of the goals were scored inside one minute. In the 40th minute, Flynn Ogilvie scored their second goal, and just after the re-start, Matt Ghodes made it 3-1.
  And in the 41st minute, Ogilvie nailed the fourth goal off an easy tap.
  The three-goal blitz was an unkind cut to the national team, who played well for most of the match.
  Thomas Craig made it 5-1 in the 50th minute.
  In another match, defending champions New Zealand made a third-quarter surge to beat Pakistan 5-3.
  The New Zealand goals were scored by Stephen Jenness (11th), Simon Child (19th), Nic Woods (39th, 42nd), Kane Russell (43rd),
  Pakistan got their goals off Arslan Qadir (8th, 52nd) and Irfan Junior (23rd).
  Canada won their first match of the tournament when they beat Japan 3-1.
  The Canada goals were scored by Mark Pearson (34th), Gabriel Ho-Garcia (35th) and Scott Tupper (45th).
  The Japan consolation was scored by Hiroki Sakamoto in the 42nd minute.

             P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
AUSTRALIA    2  2  0  0  10 2  6
N ZEALAND    3  1  2  0  9  7  5
CANADA       3  1  1  1  5  5  4
MALAYSIA     3  1  1  1  8  11 4
PAKISTAN     2  1  0  1  6  6  3
INDIA        2  1  0  1  3  6  3
JAPAN        3  0  0  3  5  9  0
  RESULTS: Japan 1 Canada 3, New Zealand 5 Pakistan 3, Malaysia 1 Australia 5.
  April 10: Japan v New Zealand (4pm), Australia v Pakistan (6pm), Canada v India (8.35pm).

New Zealand 5 Pakistan 3

Defending champions New Zealand made a third-quarter 
surge to beat Pakistan 5-3 in the 25th Edition of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.
  The New Zealand goals were scored by Stephen Jenness (11th), Simon Child (19th), Nic Woods (39th, 42nd), Kane Russell (43rd),  Pakistan got their goals off Arslan Qadir (8th, 52nd) and Irfan Junior (23rd).
  Canada won their first match of the tournament when they beat Japan 3-1.
  The Canada goals were scored by Mark Pearson (34th), Gabriel Ho-Garcia 
(35th) and Scott Tupper (45th).
  The Japan consolation was scored by Hiroki Sakamoto in the 42nd minute.



CANADA; PEARSON Mark (34th), HO-GARCIA Gabriel (35th), TUPPER Scott (C) (45th).
JAPAN; SAKAMOTO Hiroki (C) (42nd).

The Malaysian syndrome...

By Jugjet Singh


AFTER two matches in the 25th Edition of the Azlan Shah Cup, Malaysia have scored seven goals but let in six, three of which went in, in the final five minutes of both matches.
  During the New Zealand match on Wednesday, Malaysia were leading 3-2 but allowed the Kiwis to steal a point by letting in equaliser in the 55th minute.
  And against Japan, the national players took a 4-1 lead but still, let in two penalty corner goals in the 54th and 59th minutes and escaped with full points because the clock ran out on the Japanese.
  The tournament is being played on a 15-minutes each four-quarters format, with only 60 minutes of action.
  This 'Malaysian' syndrome saw the country lose out on the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and also the Junior World Cup.
  In the World League Semi-finals last eight match in Antwerp, Belgium, Malaysia were leading India 2-1 and were on the way to Brazil, but allowed India to score two goals and win 3-2. India double qualified for the Olympics as they also won the Asian Games gold.
  And in the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan, the juniors were leading South Korea 3-1 in the quarter-finals with two minutes to end. But coach Arul Selvaraj's boys collapsed and allowed the Koreans to score two goals and take the match to a penalty shoot-out.
  The Koreans won the shoot-out and qualified for the Junior World Cup, Malaysia missed the boat by two minutes.
  There are another dozen incidences where Malaysia lost because of lapses during the first five minutes, or the last five minutes -- something which the late Sultan Azlan Shah had reminded the players back in 2005 before sending off the Junior World Cup team to Rotterdam.
  "Over the years we have lost out of playing in major tournaments, or medals, because of our lackadaisical attitude in the first five minutes as well as the last five minutes," said Azlan Shah then.
  Shukri Mutalib was among the 2005 Junior World Cup players and he is still in action at the 25th Edition of the Azlan Shah Cup -- where Malaysia are still making the same mistakes.
  Coach Stephen van Huizen has inherited a problem which was prevalent even during his playing days -- and it looks like Malaysia will never make progress in the hockey world if they can't overcome this mental block.
   One can expect this syndrome to sneak in during four remaining pool matches in Ipoh as well.

Unpredictable Malaysia

AUSTRALIAN coach Graham Reid was a little surprised when he saw a totally transformed Malaysian team in Ipoh, from the one which his World No 1 side toyed around in the recent Tests.
  Malaysia were thrashed 7-1, 5-0 and 4-0 in the Tests, about three weeks ago, where Reid saw 'some youth with some potential and skills'.
  "After watching them play New Zealand (3-3) and Japan (4-3), I notice this team is playing totally different from the one we played in the recent Test matches.
  "In Ipoh they are more organised, committed, and play with zest," said Reid.
  The Australian coach attributed the change to home fans, who seem to push them to the limit.
  "We always relish playing in the Azlan Shah Cup, especially against Malaysia, because the packed stadium, drums and vuvuzela noise seems to spur the hosts.
  "Australia also need to get adjusted to these type of cheering as we will soon be playing in the Olympics, which i expect to be watched by capacity crowds as well," said Reid.
  Last year, Australia could only beat Malaysia 3-2 in the pool match, with the winner coming in the 59th minute.
  National coach Stephen van Huizen said: "One can never prepare for a match against Australia as even though the team closes almost all holes, they have a knack of finding the smallest of cracks to score.
  "Having said that, we have played some good Test matches against them recently, and we hope to give them a good fight."
  And what makes the Australians, favourite to play in the final of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics so special?
  "Culture. Its an inbuilt thing from our previous players who just refused to be beaten and this attitude has been passed down to the present team.
  "Also, there are 30 other players who are capable of replacing me back home waiting for their break, and so, I'm not about to give it to them. This keeps all of us on our toes every minute of every match," said Australian skipper Mark Knowles.


             P  W  D  L  F  A  Pts
MALAYSIA     2  1  1  0  7  6  4
AUSTRALIA    1  1  0  0  5  1  3
PAKISTAN     1  1  0  0  3  1  3
INDIA        2  1  0  1  3  6  3
N ZEALAND    2  0  2  0  4  4  2
CANADA       2  0  1  1  2  4  1
JAPAN        2  0  0  2  4  6  0

  April 8: REST DAY.
  April 9: Japan v Canada (4pm), New Zealand v Pakistan (6pm), Malaysia v Australia (8.35pm).
  April 10: Japan v New Zealand (4pm), Australia v Pakistan (6pm), Canada v India (8.35pm).