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Varun’s brace lifts India against Irish

India turned the tables on Ireland to register a 4-1 victory and finished fifth in the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Men’s International Hockey Tournament in Ipoh today.

The Irish, ranked 10th in the world and making their debut in the tournament, surprised the world’s sixth-ranked India with a 3-2 win in their last preliminary round group match here on Wednesday – a result that knocked out India’s chances in the medal count.

It was one of India’s worst finishes in the tournament since the inception of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 1983, having won the title five times. They finished runners-up in 2008 and 2016 and won bronze medals for a record seven times, the last being in 2017.

It took India just five minutes to take 1-0 the lead from their second penalty corner. Man of the Match Varun Kumar was spot on with a powerful flick to the left of goalkeeper Jamie Carr.

Shilanand Lakra extended the lead in the 28th  minute via a field goal, Varun returned to score his second and India’s third goal in the 32nd minute from their fourth penalty corner whilst Gurjant Singh netted the fourth goal in the 37th minute from open play.

Ireland made a drastic change in the third quarter, introducing reserve goalkeeper Mark Ingram for Carr and the move paid well as India’s marauding forwards were kept in check with an outstanding performance.

Julian Dale, however, eased the Irish pain by netting a field goal in the 48th minute.

India picked their sixth penalty corner in the late stages but Varun’s low drive went off the mark. Ireland, however, kept the momentum going and earned their first penalty corner five minutes to the end of the match which proved fruitless.


Sjoerd Marijne (India Head Coach)

Off course we played much better than yesterday (3-2 defeat against Ireland) and it was all about the technical skills, more low passes, trapping was much better. Ireland could not intercept most of the ball.

There was more discipline in the structure. I don’t know how many times Ireland was in the circle but that does not matter. It was a really good performance after a disappointing performance on Wednesday.

We can’t change what happened before but we can change what happens in the future like what they did today. But off course it was a really big disappointment not to play in the medal count and we know that in the whole tournament we played a lot of good matches.

It was just one bad performance against Ireland when we were not ourselves that cost us a lot of damage. Playing in 5-6th playoff must have been the biggest disappointment for the team.  I am happy the way we came out playing today. It was much better.


Craig Fulton (Ireland Head Coach):

The very first thing is we played with 13 players and that wasn’t part of the plan. I have three players not feeling well and that can happen. The things that we wanted to do was very very depleted.

We did not have enough power through the midfield but all credit to the players who gave their 100 percent when we were 3-0 down in the third quarter ans fought back.

It would be good if we are invited next year. We would love to come back. It is a fantastic tournament, very competitive and we scored in every game. We have beaten India (3-2) earlier and  India defeated Malaysia 5-1 so its a very competitive tournament.

We could have got a result in some games, like leading 2-0 against Argentina before losing 5-3. Australia are very strong and we had a good game against them.

I think we more than did ourselves proud in this tournament and it is definitely was not a  walkover.