Sunday, July 12, 2009

Champion's Challenge II: 3rd/4th playoff

France 4 (Freddie Soyez 2, Martin Genestet, Sebastian Jean-Jean) Malaysia 3 (Hafiz Hanifi, Selvaraju Sandrakasi, Abd Rahim) after golden goal
France withstood a second half barrage to eventually take the bronze medal at the inaugural Champion's Challenge II with Freddie Soyez holding his nerve to net a three-times respotted penalty corner in the sixth minute of golden goal extra-time.

Hir brace of drag-flicks bookended a lively affair that Malaysia should have led inside five minutes. The Asian side produced three gilt-edge chances in quick succession with Azlan Misron and Selva Sandrakasi cutting the French in ribbons for two one-on-one chances but had not the composure to finish. Indeed, Selva was the games star man, producing a world of breathtaking individual skills.

As it was, Martin Genestet clattered in a bouncing ball in the 15th minute before Soyez slung in a high drag-flick for 2-0 in the 21st minute. Malaysia got back into the game three minutes before the break from Kevinder Singh's spectacular reverse, helped on its way by Hafiz Hanifi.

Sebastian Jean-Jean's tap in in the 44th minute restored the two-goal difference but from then on, Malaysia bossed affairs. Matthias Dierckens' string of saves kept it that way for ten minutes until Selva smashed in a corner rebound from a tight angle - though the French had a case for a free out.

Three corners went awry while Malaysia could have had a stroke when Arnaud Becuwe unceremoniously prevented Tengku's shot from six yards. But the equaliser finally came four minutes from time when Selva ghosted past three players, fed Tengku who laid across for Abd Rahim's simple finish.

The fightback, though, proved all in vain as France won a corner five minutes into golden goal. Charun Singh blocked out Soyez' first two efforts with his body from first runner but the third winged its way into the roof of the net.

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