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FHockey: Australia to meet Malaysia in final

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

World Champions Australia will contest hosts Malaysia in the final Sunday of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup after edging out the tournament's defending champions New Zealand.

Australia booked their place with a 3-2 win over the Kiwis Saturday, while the Malaysians finished their preliminary round with a 2-2 draw with India.

It will be the eighth final appearance for the Australians, who have made good on all but two of those chances, while the Malaysians, who have never won, will play in their fourth cup final.

Both teams played to a 1-1 draw in the preliminary round match of the cup's 22nd edition, and Australian assistant coach Graham Reid predicted a tough final considering the atmosphere, which favours the home team.

"But we are looking forward to it. There is no question that it will be a high quality match... The Malaysians have a well-balanced side," he said.

Australia overcame a poor first half display to beat the Kiwis, whose loss automatically propelled Malaysia into the final.

The Kiwis dominated the first half as the world number two looked jaded, squandering five penalty corners and against the run of play allowed their neighbours to take the lead through Jacob Smith.

But it was a disastrous start for the Kiwis in the second half when they gave away two soft goals with Jacob Whetton scoring twice in a one-minute spell from close range.

Matt Gohdes added the third off a field attempt to steer them to safety so even Cory Bennett's goal for New Zealand couldn't shake them.

Meanwhile, Malaysia scored both their goals through Faizal Saari, while India replied through Mandeep Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh.

India was coasting to a 2-1 win when Malaysia earned a last-minute penalty stroke. Faizal scored the equaliser, which sends India to a play-off for fifth place against Pakistan.

India's archrival was held to a 2-2 draw by South Korea in a match that proved scrappy and listless. The draw took South Korea, ahead of the Pakistanis on goal difference, to a third placing play off with New Zealand.

Salman Hussain scored the opening goal for Pakistan followed by Abdul Haseem Khan in the second half.

The Koreans scored their first goal through Hyun Hye-Sung, while an own goal by Muhammad Irfan gave them the second.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130316/fhockey-australia-meet-malaysia-final