Goodfield scores twice as GB men overcome nine-time champions to claim first ever title
Great Britain enthralled fans to defeat world champions Australia 4-3 in the final of the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to lift the title for the first time, becoming only the second British team to win the competition following England’s triumph way back in 1994.
”It was just a fantastic win for us”, said GB head coach Bobby Crutchley immediately after the victory over the nine-time winners of the competition. “I think the turning point was who is going to score first after we took the 2-1 lead. That would make a lot of difference and we took our chances very well. Unlike the group match, we stuck to our plans today and the players were motivated to change things around. The last three minutes of play have been nervy experience as we did not get a penalty corner and Australia was pressing on. It could have been a nail-biting moment had the score been equal. In the last four to five weeks we had increased our work rate for the Azlan Shah Cup as we faced top rated teams. Tonight was just a memorable win and great day for Great Britain.”
Great Britain, mesmerised reigning champions Australia with an attacking game in the first quarter, not giving the Kookaburras room to orchestrate and in the process charted their own progress towards the coveted trophy. Alan Forsyth broke the deadlock for Great Britain in the eighth minute with a field goal beyond the reach of goalkeeper Andrew Charter with David Goodfield making it 2-0 via a penalty corner three minutes later. The Australians, waited till the 28th minute as Eddie Ockenden reduced the deficit. Great Britain went 3-1 up in the 33rd minute thanks to an Ollie Willars strike but the Kookaburras were back on track to close the gap in the very next minute as Dylan Wotherspoon laid a perfect pass to Joshua Pollard who scored with a clinical touch to reduce it to 3-2. However, Great Britain clawed into the two-goal lead with the fourth goal in the 43rd minute through Goodfield before Australia’s Wotherspoon made it 4-3 in the 48th minute with what proved to be the last goal of the contest.
“We created enough chances against Great Britain and had a couple of penalty corners”, said Australia coach Colin Batch. “GB played a good game today, so did we. They plucked the goals early and we were not far behind in chasing those goals. I am a little disappointed but we will look into this and get back home.”
India took bronze medal as they defeated New Zealand with two goals from Rupinder Pal Singh en route to a 4-0 win. It was their seventh bronze medal in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
“Our defence was very good today”, said India head coach Roelant Oltmans. “We did not give away any penalty corners to New Zealand. But there are lessons we learned and one of them according to our statistics is that we should have scored more goals in this tournament. I don’t believe in negatives. I look at positives such as how we can improve in executions of penalty corners and in other areas to move forward. We will gather all the information needed to prepare for the World League Finals later this year.”
In the first match of the day, Malaysia registered a 3-1 victory over Japan to finish fifth.
About the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup has been an annual feature in the FIH calendar since 1998, although it initially started life in 1983 as a biennial event. The event is named after legendary hockey fan and former FIH Executive Board Member HRH Sultan Azlan Shah, the ninth Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia, who sadly passed away in 2014. Although the man known as “the father of Malaysian Hockey” is no longer with us, both his name and legacy lives on in this ever-entertaining competition.
More information about the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup can be found on the links below.