Australia start favourites, Malaysia keen to make its imprint

Ipoh: Hosts Malaysia would look to end their title drought when they clash with six-time champions Australia in the summit clash of the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey tournament on Sunday.

Deservingly, two of the best teams on view have made it to the summit clash. Ever the bridesmaid, a tag sitting not too well on the hosts since the inception, Malaysia will be just that much keen to erase the unwanted baggage.

The finalists in 1985, 2007 and 2009, Malaysia have possibly the best chance to win their first Azlan Shah Trophy. A perfect gift it would be from the veteran Chua Boon Huat, who would like to sign off with the accomplishment after figuring in 11 editions without tasting the win.

The optimistic Malaysia coach Paul Revington said Australia were far superior but hoped that his boys will dish out a different ball game.

Australian coach Ric Charlesworth said it was a great learning curve for the players playing the ultra defensive Korea and barely managing a face-saving draw.

Charlesworth said he has every reason to hope that they will win seventh title.

"Only the heroic efforts of Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar came in our way of a victory. We have to be more consistent in the penalty corners and just cannot afford to fritter away the handfuls in the summit clash," he said.

Charlesworth said he is not perturbed by the injuries to strikers Timothy Bates and Daniel Beale, who could not take the field against Korea.

"We have the adequate bench strength and there is hope of the injured players taking the field and used sparingly."