Sunday March 17, 2013
Malaysia in final after Australia thump their neighbours
By S. RAMAGURU
IPOH: Malaysia will play Australia in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final today.
Australia defeated defending champions New Zealand 3-2 in the second match yesterday, thus sending Malaysia into the final even before their last preliminary round game against India.
Malaysia eventually played to a 2-2 draw with India after scoring a last-gasp equaliser. Faizal Saari scored both the goals while Mandeep Singh and Rupinder Paul Singh were on target for India. It will be Malaysia’s fourth final appearance. They were runners-up on all three occasions – losing in 1985 and 2009 to India and Australia in 2007.
For the Australians, today’s final will be their eighth in the series. And they have emerged champions six times.
Earlier in their meeting in the preliminary round, Australia and Malaysia played to a 1-1 draw.
The Australians, however, are not taking Malaysia for granted.
“It will be a tough but an exciting encounter. The Malaysians have tremendous support here and the packed stadium for all their matches is a clear indication they will be well supported in the final,” said Australia’s stand-in coach Graham Reid.
“We had a mixed performance against New Zealand. There is a need to improve on several areas for the final. But it is always a good point that the players get to learn from this kind of matches and improve with each game,” he added.
Malaysia coach Paul Revington acknowledged that Australia will start as favourites.
“It will be an interesting match. As usual our aim is to win. The players have done well thus far and I believe they can perform well in the final too. We have to be positive and learn from our previous match against them.
“Australia have been at the top of their game for a long time. We will plan accordingly and hope that some of our previous mistakes can be rectified,” he added.
Against New Zealand, forward Jacob Whetton scored a brace for Australia in the 38th and 39th minutes. Matt Gohdes scored the other goal in the 42nd minute.
Jacob Smith (27th) and Cory Bennett (56th) contributed New Zealand’s goals.
Earlier, South Korea held Pakistan to a 2-2 draw and it gave the Koreans a berth in the third placing playoff against New Zealand.
Pakistan will meet arch-rivals India in the fifth placing playoff.