JOHOR BAHARU – Defending champions India booked their berth in the final of the 4th edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup Hockey Tournament after defeating Australia 6-2 at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here yesterday.
They will be up against Great Britain in the final tomorrow but will find it will not be an easy task to defend the title this time around because the Brits coached by Jon Bleby have had an unbeaten record thus far.
In fact, in the qualifying stage, Great Britain had defeated them 2-0.
India who only needed a draw against Australia to qualify for the final opened scoring through a penalty corner converted by Harmanpreet Singh in the 5th minute followed by a field goal by Parvinder Singh (9th min) and penalty corner by Simranjeet Singh (19th min) before Pawan Singh made it 4-0 in the 23rd minute.
Australia reduced the deficit when Brendan Horner found the mark in the 24th minute only for India to make it status quo again after Harmanpreet slotted home a penalty in the 27th minute.
After the break, Harmanpreet notched his hattrick when he converted another penalty corner in the 44th minute.
Horner converted another penalty corner for the Aussies in the 64th minute but it was clear they could in no way prevent India from reaching the final.
India’s coach Harendra Singh said he was confident his boys would win the match and was proud of the result they produced.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s dismal run in the tournament continued when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Pakistan.
Pakistan drew first blood through a penalty corner in the 17th minute which was converted by Ali Mubashar while Malaysia who dominated play and had nine penalty corners were only able to find the equaliser when Muhammad Sharil Saabah fired home a penalty corner in the 31st minute.
Sharil scored again in the 52nd minute but Mohsin Sabir denied Malaysia full points when he equalised for Pakistan in the 57th minute after which play had to be stopped for 40 minutes due to heavy rain.
Neither side scored after play was restarted.
With the result, Malaysia will be meeting Pakistan again tomorrow for the fifth/sixth place playoff. Only six teams are competing in this tournament.
“Don’t blame the players. I will accept responsibility for the team’s performance,” said Malaysia’s coach Arul Selvaraj who admitted that he sometimes put to much pressure on his boys to win.
New Zealand, who lost 0-3 to Great Britain today, will take on Australia in the third/fourth place playoff match, also tomorrow.
Great Britain’s goals were netted by Luke Taylor (13th minute penalty corner) and field goals by Liam Roy Brignull and Edward Bertie Horler in the 23rd and 55th minutes respectively.
The final between Britain and India will start at the same venue at 8.35pm. – Bernama