India Outplay Malaysia 6-1 to Enter Azlan Shah Cup Final
In the title clash today, the Men in Blue face the unbeaten Australians I ndia produced a n i nspi ri ng performance to outplay hosts Malaysi a 6 -1 i n a must-wi n match and secure their seventh appearance in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament, in Ipoh, Malaysia on Friday.
Needing a victory in their last round-robin league fixture to qualify for Sunday’s title clash, five-time winners India stamped t hei r aut horit y on t he hosts to f i nish a head of defendi ng champions New Zealand in the standings.
India’s opponents in the title encou nter on Sat u rday wi l l be reigning world champions Australia, who today prevailed 3-0 over Canada to complete an all-win record in the preliminary league. Australia finished with the maximum 18 points from six outings, followed by India on 12 points and New Zealand on 11 points.
Australia have won this title a record eight times and were losing finalists to the Black Sticks last year, when India earned a bronze.
S V Sunil (2nd minute), Harjeet Singh (7th), Ramandeep Singh (25th and 39th), Danish Mujtaba ( 2 7t h) a nd Ta lwi nder Si ngh (50th) scored for India, while Shahril Saabah (46th) scored a consolation goal for Malaysia.
I n d i a’ s last appearance in the final o f t he A z l a n Shah Cup was in 2 010, when they shared t he tit le with S out h Kor e a a f t e r t or r e nt i a l s hower s flooded the ground. Watching the India-Malaysia contest from the sideslines were New Zealand, who will now face hosts Malaysia for the bronze me d a l me d a l o n S a t u r d ay. Malaysia f i nished fou r t h a fter failing to add to their eight points today. Malaysia needed a seven-goal victory to edge ahead of New Zealand in the standings, but they went out seeking to avenge their loss to India in the Hockey World League Semifinals that cost them qualifications for the Olympic Games.
Malaysia’s last victory over India was in last year’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup here, when the home side posted a 3-2 victory in a league match. Pleased with his wards, coach Roelant Oltmans said he is hopeful of giving world champions Australia a keen contest in the final on Saturday.
"I’m pleased to see the energy of the boys. That’s what you want to see as a coach," said Oltmans, who had set a target of finishing among the medalists in the tournament. "The finals are always special. I want to test and see what our boys will do tomorrow," said Oltmans.