Australia 3 defeated Malaysia 1
Goals: Australia - Travis Brooks PC 7m PC 19m, Rob Hammond PC 26m; Malaysia - Hairul AB Rani PC 63m
New Straits Times: Australia did the expected and beat Malaysia 3-1 in the Azlan Shah Cup at the National Hockey Stadium yesterday after opening a match-winning lead midway through the first half.
Malaysia showed some promise, and if yesterday's other matches are to be used as a yardstick - they will be able to reach their target of finishing fourth in the tournament.
Malaysia paid a heavy price for playing open hockey against the Athens Olympics champions, and by the time the first half hooter blew, coach Wallace Tan's men were trailing by three goals.
To be fair, the team were not too bad, and held court in pockets, but the defenders, especially Nor Azlan Bakar, were too generous in giving away penalty corners. Australia had five in 35 minutes, and scored three.
Australia took the lead in the sixth minute, off their first penalty corner, by a simple but effective trick. The flicker sent a soft and direct ball to Malaysian goalkeeper S. Kumar, and Travis Brooks waited for the rebound and sent the ball into the goalmouth.
The second goal was also similar, and this time, it was again Brooks who sent in the penalty corner rebound into goal in the 17th minute.
Malaysia had some good chances off fast breaks, but poor finishing was the order of the day. Australia slowed down the match after gaining the cushion, but still managed to increase the lead to 3-0 when in the 25th minute, Robert Hammond pushed in a penalty corner rebound.
The Australian attack came from the left of the field, and they had an easy time breaking into the Malaysian semi-circle because Chua Boon Huat was slow, and failed to defend his territory effectively.
Malaysia played much better after the breather, but still failed to score any goals, especially off penalty corners, as skipper S. Kuhan had an off day.
The Malaysian defence slowed down the match with deft passing from left to right, and the Australians found it harder to break into the semi-circle.
The fitness level of the Malaysian team was also laudable, as none of the players slowed down, even after being chased and harassed by the Aussies.
And just as all hope was lost of Malaysia narrowing the gap, and ending the match on a respectable note, the elusive goal came.
It was in the 63rd minute, and Malaysia won a penalty corner. This time, Kuhan sent the ball to the right of the goalmouth, and Hairul Nizam deflected in.
When the final hooter blew, the scoreboard displayed a respectable score, considering Malaysia are ranked 12th in the world while Australia are the reigning Olympic champions.
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