The Kookaburras took on Japan tonight at the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia with Japan coming back from 2 – nil down to win the match, the final score AUS 2 – 3 JPN. The Kookaburras have however secured a place in the final tomorrow evening and will play either India or Great Britain.
The first goal came in the seventh minute of play with Aaron Kleinschmidt scoring a penalty corner after an infringement from Japan’s Kaito Tanaka. The play continued in the Kookaburras favour, however their next chance at goal didn’t come until a missed penalty corner opportunity minutes into the second quarter.
One minute into the second half and Trent Mitton doubled Australia’s score with a field goal after he somehow managed to get past three of Japan’s defenders, leaving the score at 2 – nil.
Forty-four minutes into the game and Japan were up for their first penalty corner which was saved by Australian goalkeeper Tyler Lovell. The second opportunity seconds later saw Japan’s first goal; a set piece play finished with a powerful flick from Shota Yamada that was just out of reach of the Australian defence.
Australia managed to force two quick penalty corner opportunities early into the fourth quarter however the Japanese defence thwarted both with their quick execution from the net.
Japan scored the equaliser in the 56th minute of play with Koji Yamasaki nailing a field goal following a pass from Seren Tanaka. Just one minute later and Japan took the lead for the first time in the match, a second field goal from Yamasaki giving them the edge with just three minutes of play remaining.
In the final minutes of the game Australia replaced their keeper with Matt Dawson as kicking back in a last attempt to reclaim control over the match. With not enough time to execute another goal Japan took out the win 3 – 2.
Kookaburras head coach Colin Batch said: “For small phases of the game we stuck to the game plan and when we did that we were effective. Too often tonight there was too much individual work happening and that cost us. It meant we made errors at the back, and gave Japan confidence and the opportunity to score goals. They were costly mistakes and we need to learn lessons from that.
“For a large part of the game we were in control, but we didn’t use the opportunity to score a third or a fourth goal, so that was pretty frustrating. We prepared well for the game, and we rated Japan – they have been able to score well at this tournament.
“We need to prepare for our own game ahead of whoever we play tomorrow, whether that be Great Britain or India.”
The Kookaburras remain at the top of the standings and will next play the final of the Azlan Shah Cup tomorrow, Saturday 6 May at 8.35pm AWST / 10.35pm AEST. They will play either Great Britain or India depending on the outcome of India’s match against Malaysia.