MALAYSIA CHAMPS

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Malaysia emerged as champions of the inaugural Sultan of Johor Cup when they came twice from behind to defeat Australia 3-2 on golden goal at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Bahru. It was a grand victory as Malaysia were one minute away from defeat but two penalty corner strikes by skipper Mohd Noor Faez Ibrahim gave the title to Malaysia.  It was a nervous opening five minutes for both teams as they made elementary mistakes like miss trapping the ball and being out of position was a pass was made.

But Australia were holding back as they allowed Malaysia to come at them. And despite some good runs on the right flank by Mohd Syamim Mohd Yusof, there were no takes as his crosses went begging. And in the 11th minute Australia struck as the Malaysian defenders backtracked and allowed Dylan Wotherspoon run into the semi circle unchecked and he slotted the ball past Mohd Hazrul Faiz Ahmad Sobri. There was pin drop silence in the stadium.

Malaysia could have been a second goal down in the very next minute as Tyler Cowley forced Faiz into making a great save when he broke free on the left. The defence comprising of Mohd Noor Faeez Ibrahim, Faiz Helmi and Nurizzat Sumantri were guilty of leaving players unmarked. Australia were awarded a penalty corner in the 15th minute but the attempt was pushed wide. And when Malaysia won a penalty corner in the 18th minute, Faeez could not get the ball past Aussie keeper Johan Durst. In the 20th minute Syamim was presented with a sitter but he was a trifle too slow to connect the cross on the left by Mohd Ramadhan Rosli.

And Syamim once again wasted a one on one when he was put through by Fitri Saari as he rushed his shot and failed to lift it over Durst in the 23rd minute. Malaysia dominated proceedings but failed to capitalise on their chances. Malaysia were awarded their second penalty corner in the 26th minute but once again they failed to outwit the Aussie defence. It was only goalkeeping heroics of Hazrul Faiz that kept Malaysia in the game for he pulled off one save after another to deny the Aussia strikers who were making inroads into the semi circle with relative ease. The second half started with Malaysia mounting an attack that nearly yielded result as Mohd Ramadhan’s deflected was parried away by Durst. Another pass in the middle by Fitri was wasted by Amir Farid in the 39th minute.

Then out of nowhere Fitri struck as he took matters into his own hand, weaved his magic around the semi circle and one step in it he unleashed an unstoppable reverse stick shot that left Durst bewildered. Australia forced a penalty corner in the 52nd minute and once again it was Hazrul Faiz that stretched his foot to turn the ball wide around the post. Malaysia then had a spell that they dominated but the forwards in the likes of Amir, Syamim and Rashid could not create a penalty corner that could have given Malaysia the edge. In the 59th minute Australia took the lead as Jack Wallace with his back to the Malaysian goal, deflected the ball that caught Hazrul and Karthik. Australia thought they had it won but Faeez had other ideas as he converted a penalty corner in the 69th minute, taking the match into extra time. And five minutes into extra time Faeez scored the winner and the stadium erupted with joy.

Roll of Honour

Champion: Malaysia

Runners-up: Australia

Third: South Korea

Fourth: India

Fifth: Pakistan

Sixth: New Zealand

Man-of-the-match (final): Mohamed Hazrul Faiz (Malaysia)

Best player of tournament: Mohamed Fitri Saari (Malaysia)

Best goalkeeper: Mohamed Hazrul Faiz (Malaysia)

Top scorer: Mohamed Noor Faeez (Malaysia) – seven goals.

Fairplay Trophy: New Zealand

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