Dutch upset Aussies to win title

The Netherlands annihilated Olympic champions and holders Australia 6-2 in the final of the 15th Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament on Sunday.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Kuala Lumpur:

The Netherlands orchestrated a blitzkrieg that annihilated Olympic champions and holders Australia 6-2 in the final of the 15th Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament at Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. In a shocking reversal of form, the Dutch, who had struggled right through the tournament, turned on the heat and scored at regular intervals to puncture the Aussie bubble. Attacking with great pace, powar and precision, the Dutch scored through Roderick Weushtof (6th, 47th, 66th), Taeke Taekema (22nd), Teun de Nooijer (42nd) and Ronald Brouwer (52nd). Australia, winners here four times and the defending champions, were left with no answer to the assault and only in the later stages of the game did they get their bearings to scramble home a couple of goals through Matt Naylor (60th) and Robert Hammond (69th, penalty stroke). But it was all too little too late. Earlier in the day, India beat New Zealand 3-2 to finish third in the eight-nation tourney. Hari Prasad (8th, 35th) scored a brace while Sandeep Singh (43) also chipped in to star in India's win. For New Zealand, Simon Child (7th) and Hayden Shaw (39th) netted the goals. The Dutch displayed their tactical superiority from the beginning as they did not allow the Aussies to function with tight man-to-man marking. And once the Dutch opened the scoring, Australia sank in a veritable flood of goals. For the Dutch, it was veteran Teun de Nooijer who once again masterminded the victory. With his roaming duties, de Nooijer craftily utilised the smallest of openings in the Aussie defence to pave the way for goals. It was the first Azlan Shah win for the Dutch in their second attempt but coach Roelant Oltmans played down the success. "If it was the World Cup final, I would have been the happiest man around. But at this tournament, it did not matter whether you won or lost. The important point was that we got to play together as a team and an important preparatory outing for the World Cup," he said. On Roderick Weushtof, who was the tournament's leading goal-scorer and also the Player of the Tournament, Oltmans said: "I am happy at the way he is developing. He was the leading scorer in our league this year with a tally of 34 from 22 matches. He is also a rare combination of a player who can score field goals and also from penalty corners." Oltmans expressed surprise at the scoreline. "Of course I am surprised, even granting that the Australians were not at full strength here. But still, to beat the Olympic champions by such a big margin indeed is a huge surprise," he said. About the team's overall performance here, Oltmans said: "We have shown improvement with every match and today, we played extremely well. No doubt, we made a few mistakes in the closing minutes, but overall, I am satisfied with our performance here." Final team positions: 1. The Netherlands. 2. Australia. 3. India. 4. New Zealand. 5. Pakistan. 6. Korea. 7. Argentina. 8. Malaysia. Man of the match: Teun de Nooijer (The Netherlands) Special prizes:Fair Play: Pakistan Player of the Tournament and Top goalscorer: Roderick Weushtof (The Netherlands, 4 goals) (PTI)