Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ciriello’s hat-trick inspires Australia to Sultan Azlan Shah Cup glory

Reigning champions Australia defending their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in style, scooping up the 23rd edition smashing hosts Malaysia 8-3 in a one-sided summit clash in Ipoh. The Kookaburras were all over the Malaysians and toyed with their defence with sustained raids.

Burly drag-flicker Chris Ciriello, who had played for 2014 HIL side Jaypee Punjab Warriors, converted a penalty corner in the 5th minute to silence the home crowd. Eddie Ockenden doubled the lead before Ciriello again made it count with another short corner as the Aussies rattled up a 3-0 lead in the opening seventeen minutes of play.

Trailing 0-3, Malaysia needed to summon desperate measures to claw their way back into the match and Sharil Saabah fired home a PC to ensure his side had a semblance of a chance to fight back. The spirits of the home crowd got a life early in the second half when Rashid Baharom scored a field goal to narrow down the margin (2-3).

With thirty minutes left in the game, Malaysia had enough time not just to draw level but also pull ahead and win their inaugural Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, but Australia killed off the contest in the next twelve minutes of play striking thrice all through set-pieces.

Chris Ciriello, who scored a brace in his team’s 6-2 win over Malaysia in the league phase, completed a splendid hat-trick in the 42nd minute before Nicholas Budgeon also got into the goal-scoring act off a PC routine in the 46th minute before Ciriello got it right from a PC for the fourth time to make the scoreline 6-2.

The result from here on never seemed to be in any doubt. Matt Ghodes made it 7-2 in the 65th minute before Faaizal Fitri produced a late goal for Malaysia. Tristan White wrapped up the decimation job snaffling up the eight goal with two minutes remaining for the final hooter.

The title glory marks Australia’s tremendous run in the tournament – they scored a whopping 39 goals in six games and conceding only six and had leaked their first only in the fourth game of the tourney. This was the eight time Australia have won the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup - the most by any nation.

Post a Comment