Defending champions and World No 2 Australia buried the hopes of an estimated 4,000 Malaysian fans with a scintillating performance en route to a 6-1 win over the host in the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup today.
Tom Craig had given the Kookaburras the lead 11 minutes into the first quarter before nailing his hat-trick while Trent Mitton made it count with a three-goal blitz.
The Malaysians, placed 14th in the FIH World Rankings, had a goal disallowed in the 18th minute following a penalty corner. Razie Rahim’s powerful drag-flick hit the postman and rebounded into the playing field. The ball was picked up by Haziq Samsul who slammed past goalkeeper Tyler Lovell. Australia appealed for a video referral of the goal and got their wish.
Craig started Australia’s goal rush with a well connected cross from Matt Dawson which had goalkeeper S. Kumar beaten. Mitton doubles the score in the 23rd minute following a 1-2 combination with Craig and scores Australia’s third and his second three minutes later.
In one of the most enthralling matches fans had seen here over the last two days, the Malaysians did everything they could to get back into the game but were denied by their own folly in the Australian circle. Much to Malaysia’s dismay, Craig found his way through with his second goal of the night as the world champions shot ahead 4-0 in the 38th minute.
However, Malaysia earned a fourth penalty corner in the 42nd minute. Razie drove the ball hard and well but it was illegally stopped by an Australian defender by his foot resulting in South African umpire Sean Rapaport awarding a penalty stroke. Faizal Saari made no mistake to pull a goal back for the host.
If there was any hope of a Malaysian comeback after this it was quickly snuffed out by Craig who went on to score the first hat-trick of the tournament in the 45th minute from a well executed penalty corner set piece.
But the Australians were far from finished. Mitton had the final say with his hat-trick from a field goal in the 58th minute as the Kookaburras celebrated a 6-1 victory, leaving Stephen Van Huizen’s Malaysia devastated and tattered.
WHAT THE COACHES SAID
Stephen van Huizen (Malaysia Head Coach)
Obviously we are disappointed with the result. We gave too much of respect to Australia in the first quarter. We lost 2 players (green and yellow cards) and this affected our own game. We had a good third quarter and I am happy with the performance of the players as they fought and fought.
Australia created a lot of chances, far more than we had. Losing 6-1 is tough to accept and we need to regroup ourselves and come back.
After two games it is still early to tell who will look good in reaching the final. We have to prepare for our next three matches and get good results to place us in a better position.
Colin Batch (Australia Head Coach)
One thing is that I have given a deep thought. If you are not too happy with your own game you have to change the situation. We did this after our match against New Zealand before facing Malaysia.
Tonight it took us some time to bring Malaysia down as the score stood at 1-0 for a long time. I think the players did a lot of connection among them and worked toward it. Mitton and Craig were excellent but overall it was a brilliant team effort.