KOOKABURRAS CLINCH FINAL SPOT BUT ‘TOURNAMENT IS WIDE OPEN’

Thursday 8 March 2018 | Kookaburras coach Colin Batch insists the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is “still very open” despite Australia securing their spot in the final with a game to play.

The Kookaburras defeated Ireland 4-1 on Wednesday’s early game to all but secure a spot in the final, with results later in the day confirming Australia’s qualification for the decider.

Australia have won all four matches they’ve played at the Azlan Shah Cup, scoring 15 goals and conceding only five to be the runaway leaders.

The race is on for the second spot in the final, with Argentina (seven points), Malaysia (six points), England (five points) and India (four points) all still in contention, setting up an exciting final day of round robin fixtures on Friday.

Australia plays Argentina in Friday’s early game from 7pm AEDT, before India face bottom-placed Ireland (9pm AEDT) and hosts Malaysia take on England (11:30pm AEDT).

Rio Olympics gold medallists Argentina were the pre-tournament favourites alongside Australia, but the Kookaburras could knock them out with victory on Friday.

“The tournament is still very open,” Batch said.

“Malaysia had a good win against Argentina, so they’re right in the competition.

“We do think Malaysia are a good side. It was no surprise they beat Argentina, but of course Argentina are a very good side.

“Malaysia are capable of beating anyone. England are in there in as well.”

“We’ll watch with interest to see who gets through.”

Batch was delighted with Australia’s defence in the 4-1 win over Ireland.

“We didn’t give them too many opportunities so I was pleased with our defence,” he said.

“In attack there’s always things to finetune, our PCs, our goal shots, our finishing.

“You can always do that better so that’s what we’re aiming for in the last two games.”

Australia’s match against Argentina on Friday will be live on Fox Sports.

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