The matches on 12th May saw weakened Australia storming into the final of Azlan Shah Championships of 2011. It also saw the 2010 joint winner India and Korea losing unexpectedly, heading towards the bottom. It also finally saw the host winning a match. Most importantly, it has made the contest for the second spot in the final a three-way fight between Great Britain, Pakistan and New Zealand.
Australia in Final
Australia had rocked the opponents in 5 matches, except India, so much so that with one match remaining they are already in the final, and can test their bench strength completely in the final game against New Zealand. Only India could hold them for a draw. Commendable performance from India, as they have lost the last match against Australia in Commonwealth Games final at India by huge margin of 8-0.
Stronger Contenders for Second Spot
Great Britain and Pakistan have the best chances to qualify. In fact both can win still be tied at 12 points each. Britain has a goal difference of +3 already, as compared to Pakistan’s goal difference of +1. Luckily Pakistan would know how many goals would be required for them to enter the final before they play Malaysia, as Great Britain would play Korea as the first match of the day. Their win against India should give extra confidence. Both have good chances, but the tournament has been full of surprises. No prediction works.
Can the Kiwis Make it
New Zealand have a very tough task at hand, due to their poor performance in the first 4 matches. Huge win against last two year’s champion, India, has got them closer to their first final in the tournament. They have finished 3rd thrice (1995, 2003 and 2008). But, for the final to happen they first must pray for the defeat of Britain (against Korea) and Pakistan (against Malaysia). They playing the last group match of the tournament, they must defeat Australia. Goal difference would not matter then as a win can take them to 10 points, while Pakistan and Britain will remain stranded to 9 points, in case both lose.
Disappointing Performances from Defending Champions
India and Korea are set to finish at the bottom of the table. Korea has a chance to improve their ranking when they play Great Britain in their last group match. But they have no chance to reach the final now. Both the teams showed inconsistent performances and are finishing well-deserving bottomhoppers, as other results prove. India can boast they have the highest goal scorer, yet they know performance must increase to have any hopes of even reaching the final in Asia Cup.