New Zealand makes Sultan Azlan Shah final

Updated 01 June 2012
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New Zealand makes Sultan Azlan Shah final

IPOH, Malaysia: New Zealand yesterday booked their first ever appearance in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with a crushing 4-1 win over hosts Malaysia, while India defeated rivals Pakistan 2-1.
The Kiwis had the game all but sewn up by half time, racing to a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Ryan Archibald, Shea McAleese and Nick Wilson.
The Malaysians pulled a goal back through Hafifi Hafiz Hanafi in the 45th minute to give them a glimmer of hope but the match was eventually put beyond their reach with a Shay Neal goal to make it 4-1.
Malaysia’s defeat mean they cannot qualify for the final as they are four points behind second place Argentina who they meet in the final round.
The South Americans will be vying to add to their nine points to secure the right to play New Zealand, who have previously never made it further than third place, in the tournament, which is an important warm-up for the London Olympics.
Former champions India defeated Asian Games winners and arch rivals Pakistan 2-1 but their chances to reach the final have virtually gone with only one more day of preliminary round matches on Saturday.
India’s win over Pakistan was their 50th in 152 meetings and was a morale booster with Pakistan, last year’s runners-up, facing their worst performance ever in the cup as they have fallen to the bottom of the table.
Pakistan team manager Akhtar Rasool said it was not his side’s day.
“India was fortunate to score in the final minute, and it was a momentary lapse in concentration that cost us dearly,” he said.
“We have always maintained that we are here to learn and correct our mistakes ahead of the Olympics... We just have to be patient.” There was no fancy play by either side in the match played under a steady drizzle. Sandeep Singh gave India the lead when they were awarded a penalty corner in the 31st minute.
Pakistan dominated the start of second half but their finishing was woefully off for the most part until they equalized in the 61st minute when Sohail Abbas sent a low drag flick into the goal.
But just as the match was heading for a draw, Sunil Sowmarpet scored in the 69th minute, giving India a crucial win.
“We deserve the win based on our performance and discipline in defense,” Indian coach Michael Nobbs said. “The timely tackles and tactical discipline helped us through this match.” Earlier, favorites Britain were held to a 1-1 draw by South Korea.
FROM: AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE


Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

Updated 21 April 2018
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Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

  • The Frenchman revolutionised the game in England across all leagues, not just the Premier League.
  • After initial success he found the going tough in the second half of his reign, but will still go down as an all-time great.

Over the past few seasons it has been fashionable to view Arsene Wenger as some sort of figure of fun — a man living in the past, left behind by the modern game, but too stubborn to realize it.
In time, though, even the most ardent, frothing-at-the-mouth #WengerOut believer would have to agree that the Frenchman will go down not just as one of the best managers Arsenal have had, but also among the greatest in English club football.
As with any caricature, there is a hint of truth in the picture created, crude as it sometimes is. Yes, Wenger’s past few years at the Emirates have been painful to watch. Yes, he was stubborn when it came to both activity in the transfer market and belief in his methods and tactics. Yes, it is fair to say he leaves the club, on the pitch at least, in a bit of a mess. And, yes, he should have left two or three years ago.
But if there is one thing that any sane fan should remember about Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss, it is this: He was a game-changer, a manager who oversaw not only a revolution of the Gunners, but also of the English game.
As soon as Wenger landed in England in 1996, he banished Arsenal’s Tuesday drinking club and munching of Mars bars — in their place came stretching sessions and broccoli. Hardly profound or radical in today’s game, but this was the era when change in English football invariably meant no pies and pints on a Friday night.
The technical, passing, possession football that is now the norm for any side with ambitions to remain in the Premier League, let alone win it, and the idea that eating vegetables rather than a tub of lard would help player performance, were brought in by Wenger alone.
He won the double in his first full season in charge, signed unheralded foreign talent such as Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera — who went on to become world-class players — and created teams that were a joy to watch, culminating with “The Invincibles” of 2003-04, who won the Premier League without losing a match.
The irony is that the one-time revolutionary ended up being viewed as a throwback, a stuck-in-the-mud anachronism; a manager who harked back to a time when playing with the owner’s chequebook was not seen as the only path to success and when paragraphs were favored over 140 characters.
And that perhaps explains why so many Arsenal fans seemingly wanted him gone: Wenger is not of the Twitter generation, of instant opinions for the 24-hour news agenda and of hype over humility. The man who was once seen as the future stuck to principles that were deemed as belonging to the past.
It is clear there is a lot of bad blood at the club — a ridiculous Facebook post by an Arsenal fan claimed Wenger’s announcement he was leaving made it the “greatest day in Arsenal’s history.”
But for all the bluster and nonsense, Wenger’s legacy will be that of “The Invincibles” — one of the greatest club sides of modern times; of beautiful football played at pace and with artistry; of being a decent, yet flawed, man who was never anything but articulate and courteous.
Having been in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, he is undoubtedly the last of a kind, and in the era of trigger-happy owners, short-term fixes and sensationalism over stability, that is something everyone, even the #WengerOut brigade, should lament.