# Malaysia stun Australia 3-2
# Champions India stave off Argentina to triumph 3-2
# Pakistan hold Great Britain for first point with a scoreless draw
Sitting in the VIP box were National Juniors coach A. Arul Selvaraj’s parents – father S. Anthonisami, mother G.D. Ponammal, sister Selvarani and borther-in-law S. Supramani – who probably brought him luck.
On the field the Malaysian juniors gave their best performance to date in the 5th edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup Under-21 Invitational International tournament to beat Australia 3-2 in a pulsating match at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium – Malaysia’s first win in three outings.
And the player who came in for lot of flak for his poor performance – first choice goalkeeper Ridzwan Azmi – turned out a sterling performance between the posts for Malaysia and walked away with the Man of the Match Award.
“We also enlisted some outside help for Rdizwan…brought in people who are close to him and it did work. Ridzwan gave his best performance to win the Man of the Match award.”
The Melaka-born Ridzwan saved seven penalty corners out of the 11 Malaysia conceded to frustrate Australia who managed to score only one from the set pieces.
After the match Arul was all smiles and revealed a secret that not many are aware after his prayers were answered.
“I pray a lot and ask for God’s help. Also my instincts play a big part in my life. That is why I played Ridzwan in goal instead of replacing him despite his poor performance in the first two matches,” said a jubilant Arul.
Ridzwan was even replaced in the last few minutes of the match against Argentina after he conceded the second goal in the 2-2 draw on Monday. Against Great Britain in the first match on Sunday he “let in three soft goals” in the 4-2 defeat to earn Arul’s wrath.
“In the first two matches Ridzwan took two steps backwards but against Australia he took five steps forward to make up for his poor performance. Replacing him for the Australia match was on my mind but my instincts gave me the answer after my prayers,” added Arul, adding the presence of his family in the VIP box also “brought luck” in the win over Australia.
Arul reiterated that the main focus is next month’s Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan from Nov 14-22. The top four teams in Kuantan will qualify for next year’s Junior World Cup Finals in New Delhi, India. Malaysia are the defending Asian champions.
“Our focus is on the (Junior) Asia Cup. The buildup for the challenge in Kuantan is on track. These are bunch of future stars who are giving back everything to all who support the team.
“The win over Australia is sweet victory. The players are improving with each match. We lost the first, drew the second and won the third…but I need to check the discipline of some players who earn unnecessary green and yellow cards.
The top four teams in the Asia Cup will qualify for the Junior World Cup.
In the match against Australia the homesters led 1-0 after five minutes when senior international Shahril Saabah converted a penalty corner. Malaysia were 2-0 up after 38 minutes through a field goal by Norsyafiq Sumantri.
Australia pulled one back through a penalty corner by Frazer Gerrard on 43 minute but Nazmi Farizal Jazlan restored Malaysia’s two-goal advantage from a penalty corner in the 55th minute. Max Hendry scored Australia’s second through a field goal in the 63rd minute.
Earlier champions India bounced back from their heartbreaking 4-3 defeat to Great Britain on Monday with a 3-2 win over Argentina after leading 2-0 with field goals by Armaan Qureshi (3rd) and Gurjant Singh (11th).
Argentina got their first in the 39th minute through skipper Maico Casella (penalty corner) but India made it 3-1 on 50 minutes when Nilakanta Sharma fired home from a penalty corner. A field attempt by Nicolas Keenan gave Argentina their second goal in the 54th minute but India held for full points and move into second place with six points – one behind leaders Great Britain.
Britain dropped precious points with a scoreless draw against Pakistan who collected their first point after three matches.
RESULTS (Oct 14)
Malaysia 3 Australia 2
India 3 Argentina 2
Great Britain 0 Pakistan 0