The Azlan Shah Showdown




Azlan Shah Cup

Azlan Shah Cup

The teams viz. Pakistan and Australia were deadlocked 2-2 at the end of the regulation time. Chris Ciriello’s crucial goal in the second half of the extra-time gave Australia its sixth triumph in the Sulan Azlan Cup Hockey tournament. The Aussies had last won the trophy in 2007.

After the start, the final soon became absorbing duel as Pakistan showed a rare element of verve, recovering twice from arrears, to get the equalizer seven minutes before the time.

The Pakistani side was led by the indefatigable Shakeel Abbasi who tormented the rival defenders with his delightful sallies. Rizwan and Zubair contributed their share and were supported well by mid-fielder Waseem Ahmed. Ciriello neatly converted a penalty corner early on and the Pakistanis hit the equaliser from Sohail Abbas following a penalty corner. Earlier, Zubair and Haseem Khan had nearly hit the target. Strangely, the Aussies were unable to exert continued pressure. Despite the good work by Matthew Swann and Glenn Turner, there were phases when they tended to be tentative.

Minutes after the break, Australia surged ahead from a brilliant move initiated Liem de Young which Glenn Turner completed with a fluent shot from the top of the circle. Even as Australia was mounting pressure on the opponents, bang! Came the equaliser for Pakistan from Rehan Butt, who hooked on to an astute forward pass by Abbasi.

There were several other pulsating moments in the extra-time with the goalkeepers Imran Khan and George Bezeley effecting exciting stops from penalty corners.

Great Britain pounded the Kiwis for a 4-2 defeat to pick the bronze medal, smothering persistent pressure with utmost equanimity. It was a good encounter in which the Kiwis matched their opponents move for move in the first half. Stephen Jenness’s goal put New Zealand ahead, but progressively Britain took control of the proceedings. A brilliant equalizer from a thundering penalty corner by Richard Mantell got the team on an equal score 1-1 before the break. In the second half, Britain held the whip-hand and netted three goals. The best among them came from Matt Daly who tapped in a cross from Ian Mackay. In the closing minutes, Hilton Blair restricted the margin, making capital off a pass from Nicolas Wilson.

Palpably sluggish and somber in mood, reflecting perhaps the overcast weather conditions here, India slumped to the sixth place against Korea.

Final positions:

  1. Australia
  2. Pakistan
  3. Great Britain
  4. New Zealand
  5. Korea
  6. India
  7. Malaysia

Player of the tournament: Shakeel Abbasi (Pakistan)

Player of the final: Christopher Ciriello.

Top scorers: 6 – Sohail Abbas (Pakistan) and Rupinder Pal Singh (India).

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