Pakistan go down fighting in Azlan Shah Cup final


World Champions Australia won the 20th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on Sunday beating Pakistan 3-2 through a golden goal in extra-time.
Australia took the lead in the 11th minute through Christopher Ciriello off their second penalty corner, but the goal only served to spur on Pakistan who went in search of the equaliser.
It came in the 31st minute off their second penalty corner attempt by Sohail Abbas whose powerful drag flick had goalkeeper George Bazeley well beaten. Australia regained the lead in the 44th minute through a field goal by Glenn Turner, only for Rahan Butt draw Pakistan level with an equaliser on 61 minutes sending the match into added-time.
Both teams had their chances to score the golden goal but it was Australia who prevailed through a Ciriello winner to give Australia their sixth Sultan Azlan Shah Cup title. Pakistan’s manager K. M. Junaid was happy with the performance of the players but was anguished at his side’s failure to take their chances to grab the winner. “It was a good showing by the players and they played one of the best matches here. It shows that despite having a young team we can play good hockey and the young players are maturing fast,” he said. Pakistan had the consolation of adding two individual awards to their silver medal. Shakeel Abbasi was named the best player of the tournament while Sohail Abbas was the joint top scorer with India’s Rupinder Singh at six goals each. Meanwhile, Great Britain bounced back from a lethargic start to beat New Zealand 4-2 and finish third in the tournament held in Ipoh, the capital of northern Perak state.
New Zealand were the early aggressors against Great Britain for third place, forcing a penalty corner in the fourth minute. Andrew Hayward had the ball in the net but it was ruled-out.
The Kiwis struck off their second penalty corner as Hayward played the ball towards the goal and pusher Stephen Jenness rushed in for a neat deflection that sailed over the outstretched goalkeeper. But Great Britain levelled in the 34th minute and then took the lead in the 51st minute through Robert Moore.
Richard Smith sent in a low flick from a penalty corner that put his team 3-1 ahead while Matthew Daly added the fourth in the 65th minute. Blair Hilton netted New Zealand’s second in the 69th minute but it was clearly Great Britain’s game.
British coach Jason Lee was pleased with the team’s second half effort. “The players did better once they had equalised and the pressure came off them. We are happy that we finished third and it will motivate the players to work harder at their game,” he said.
Last year’s joint champions South Korea and India battled it out for fifth spot in a repeat of 2010’s washed-out final with the Koreans prevailing in a 2-1 victory.


  1. What is up with Pakistani sports teams…they continue to stumble over the last few hurdles!

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