Figuring out the match line up for the final day proved a fascinating exercise in Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament on Saturday. Each of the three ties played had some bearing on the placement in the points table heightening the tension for the viewers and players.
A clear picture emerged only after the last match when Argentina beat Malaysia by a solitary goal. What eventually surfaced however did not conform totally to the configurations worked out for India after the win over Pakistan.
The fight for the glittering Azlan Shah Cup on Sunday will be between New Zealand and Argentina. This is the first title fight for the Kiwis.
India, which was confronted various possibilities had to reconcile itself for a bronze medal contest against Britain after the latter collected full points against Pakistan. India lost 2-3 to Britain in the league stage.
Korea will lock horns with Malaysia for the fifth and sixth places. Pakistan went out of the reckoning and finished at the seventh slot.
Great Britain staged a splendid comeback in the second half after being subdued by Pakistan in the first half.
In fact, the Pakistanis were dominant this period. They moved in tandem using the wingers and shot into the lead from a lovely goal from a back hander by Haseem Khan who made the most of a pass from Waqas.
Notwithstanding the continues feeding from Barry Middleton and Ben Hawes, Britain’s front line failed to generate that measure of velocity to overcome the well organized Pakistani defence.
Midway after the break, Britain brought parity to the score-line thanks to the opportunism exhibited by Barry Middleton
The vision of a draw appeared on the horizon with Britain struggling to improve and Pakistan slowly failing to combat with the escalating pressure to develop.
Pakistan succumbed four minutes before the hooter. Ashley Jackon slotted the match winner from a move initiated by Iain Lewers and developed by Richard Smith.
That goal put Pakistan out of the reckoning for placement matches. It finished at the bottom of the table.
A last minute goal from a penalty corner by Jang Jong Hyun enabled Korea overcome New Zealand. Assured of the Sunday’s final, the Kiwis did not stretch themselves much unlike the Koreans for whom the win came as a morale booster.
Korea 1 (Jong Jang Hyun) beat New Zealand 0. HT 0-0
Great Britain 2 (Barry Middleton, Ashley Jackson) beat Pakistan 1 (Muhammad Waqas) HT 0-1.
Argentina1 (Pedro Ibarra) beat Malaysia 0; HT 0-0
Table of Points: New Zealand: Played 6, Won 4, Lost 2, Drawn 0, Goals for 18, Goals against 18, Points 12; Argentina 6-4-0-2-15-16-12; Great Britain 6-3-2-1-13-10-11; India 6-3-0-3-12-15-9; Korea 6-2-2-2-11-8-8; Malaysia 6-1-2-3-10-14-5; Pakistan 6-1-0-5-9-16-3
Sunday’s matches: 5-6: Malaysia v Korea; (1-05 p.m. IST); India v Great Britain (3-35 p.m.); Final: New Zealand v Argentina (6-05 p.m.)
Sarinder Dhillon, Tournament Director, has reprimanded India’s winger S. V. Sunil consequent to an apology tendered by the player for his indecent gesture to the Pakistani supporters after the India-Pakistan match. Sunil however will play on Sunday.
Malaysia to host next edition
Malaysia will host the next edition of the Asia Cup. This was decided at the Council meeting of the Asian Hockey Federation on Saturday.
Earlier, the meeting also unanimously agreed to name the AHF-MHC Hockey Academy here after the second son of Sultan Azlan Shah, the late Raja Ashaman, who passed away on March 30 this year.
A total of 34 students from 14 different countries received their certificates after completing the Technical Officials Course.
Tan Sri P. Alagendra, Secretary-General, AHF announced that the admissions in the academy are open even for students from outside the continent from next year.
Keywords: Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament