Australia wins fifth Azlan Shah title
14 May 2007 07:12
Australia has won its fifth Azlan Shah Trophy, the third in four years, after defeating home side Malaysia, 3-1 in Ipoh, Malaysia on Sunday.
Excitement machine, Eddie Ockenden, played his best match so far in the Australian strip, winning Player of the Final and scoring twice in the win, blitzing the Malaysian defense with his pace and touch. While Andrew Smith had another strong game, capping off a successful return to the Kookaburras team with the Player of the Tournament award.
To win the tournament was a fantastic effort and is great news for hockey fans in Australia with such a young side showing just how much depth there is in men's hockey. Players like Ockenden, Ford, Matheson, Abbott and Kavanagh all gaining valuable experience and showing they can match it with the best on the international stage and will be future stars for Australia.
Sunday's win capped off an outstanding tournament for the Kookaburras and was built on their composure and ability to support each other despite intense pressure from both the Malaysian team as well as the parochial home crowd.
Australia dominated possession in the first half with 20 circle penetrations to three, but just couldn't break through the crowded Malaysian defense for their first goal. They stuck at it though, remaining calm despite their frustration, and four minutes into the second half Ockenden broke the deadlock after a great run from Grant Schubert resulted in a scrap in front of goal, Ockenden flicking home Australia's first.
Two minutes later he'd blown the game apart with a second goal that silenced the crowd and gave the Kookaburras a 2-0 lead when Bevan George fired a ball into the circle and Ockenden angled a deflection into the net.
When Russell Ford scored Australia's third with 17 minutes left on the clock the result was put beyond doubt as no team had scored three times against the Australian defense with Lambert, Wells, George and Hawes so solid all tournament.
A consolation goal in the 70th minute didn't dampen the Kookaburras' celebrations as they ended the game with a 3-1 win and their fifth Azlan Shah title.
"This was a wonderful achievement for these players," said coach for the tournament, Colin Batch.
"After a slow start with a relatively inexperienced group momentum built as the team melded together into today's very professional performance."
Source: Hockey Australia