Sunday, March 23, 2014

Eighth Azlan Shah Cup, with Eight goals..

MALAYSIA gave away a total of 11 penalty corners and went down 8-3 to World No 1 Australia in the final of the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh yesterday.
    Five of the Aussie goals were off penalty corners, with Chris Ciriello scoring four, to claim their eight gold medal.
    Coach K. Dharmaraj's men, however deserve credit, as from the six goals that Australia let in, in the entire tournament, Malaysia had their name on five. The other one belonged to South Korea.
     It was a mismatch from the start as World No 1 Australia went for an early kill, and it was only 11 minutes into the match when they took a 2-0 lead.
   The first penalty corner saw Chris Ciriello, No 5, scoring off a low push to the board in the fifth minute, and like synchronised clockwork to their jersey numbers, No 11 Eddie Ockenden scored a field goal in the 11th minute.
   And by the 17th minute, Australia had almost sealed the match when Ciriello scored his brace off a penalty corner, for his fifth goal of the tournament.
   Malaysia could only defend for the next five minutes, as even the task of taking the ball out of their own semi-circle started to look like an impossible task.
   However, they got a break in the 23rd minute, when Firhan Ashaari was brought down, and the first penalty corner was awarded. Faizal Saari took the flick, and when it bounced off goalkeeper Andrew Charter, Shahril Saabah hammered home the rebound like a cricket shot which narrowed the gap.
   Australia went in a rampage again, but goalkeeper Hafizuddin Othman was better prepared this time, and at the break, Australia only had a two-goal lead.
   Malaysia started agressively looking to narrow the gap, and found their second penalty corner in the 37th minute, but Faizal Saari's approach was easily stopped, but still, the second goal did come their way.
   This time, Izzat Hakimi took a free hit from outside the semi-circle, and Rashid Baharom connected home in the 40th minte and the crowd went wild with celebrations.
    But two minutes later, Ciriello broke their hearts for the third time, as he nailed a hat-trick of penalty corner goals.
    Again, Australia took the lead at 4-2, but there was still 26 minutes to play, with Malaysia being very generous in giving away penalty corners.
   It was penalty corner No 9, when another low flick saw Nicholas Budgeon's ball trickle and gently slam onto the board to make it 5-2.
   And penalty corner No 10 saw Ciriello score his fourth goal in the 52nd minute, and Matt Ghodes scores No 7 in the 65th minute.
   Fitri Saari made the score respectable with a field goal in the 67th minute, but Tristen White made it 8-3 in the 68th minute.
   RESULTS -- Final: Australia 8 Malaysia 3; Third-Fourth: South Korea 3 China 2; Fifth-Sixth: Canada 2 South Africa 0.

Player-of-the-tournament: Mark Knowles (Aust, Captain)
Fairplay: South Korea.
Man-of-the-Match: Chris Ciriello (Australia).
Best Goalkeeper: Lee Myung Ho (S Korea).
Top Goalscorer: Nicholas Budgeon (Aust, 8 goals).