SportsHockey World Cup

Germany, Netherlands play exhilarating draw, four teams in semis race (Roundup)

By Avishek Roy and Sirshendu Panth

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) Staunch rivals Germany and the Netherlands played out an exciting 2-2 draw while Korea demolished Canada 9-2 to leave the two semi-final berths from pool A open till the last round of league matches.

In another match, Facundo Callioni’s fine second-half strike led Argentina to a shock 1-0 win over New Zealand and made the Black Sticks’ chances of making to the semifinal difficult.

The Netherlands are on 10 points with a match left against Korea while Germany are on eight points and will square up against New Zealand in their last match.

Korea are hot on heels on seven points from four matches. The two matches between Germany and New Zealand, and the Netherlands and Korea Tuesday will now decide the semi-finalists from the pool.

The much-awaited clash between Germany and the Netherlands reached up to expectations as the two teams dished out a highly absorbing fare that had its moments of drama and suspense.

The Netherlands took the lead through Jolie Wouter’s penalty corner conversion and Korn Oliver equalised in the 44th minute. Germany went 2-1 up with a goal from Jan-Marco Montag (63rd minute) but touch-artist Teun de Nooijer levelled the score with a flick of his wrist just five minutes before the final hooter.

The fast-paced game saw the ball rolling from one end to the other, but the Dutch had a slight edge in the first half.

But the Germans seized the initiative post breather, building up intense pressure, and could have scored more goals, but for the solid display of the Netherlands defence, particularly veteran goalkeeper Guus Vogels, who has been in outstanding form throughout the tournament.

Earlier, Korea unleashed a second-half blitz to steamroll Canada and keep their hopes alive.

Nam Hyun-Woo converted a penalty corner in the 23th minute before Jong-Hyun Jang (35th minute) slotted home a penalty stroke as Korea went 2-0 up in the half-time.

But it was at the the start of the second half that Korea slammed four goals in seven minutes with lightning fast moves and shocked Canada. Nam-Yong Lee (38th minute), Sung-Hoon Yoon (40th) Hyo Sik You (41st) and Jong-Hyun (45th) increased the lead to 6-1. Phillip Wright (42nd, 51st) narrowed the margin for Canada.

Korea converted two more penalty corners through Jong-Hyun (61st minute), who completed tournament’s third hat-trick, and Hyun-Woo (67th), while Hyo-Sik scored an amazing solo in the 63rd minute.

Korea romped to their biggest victory in the World Cup, surpassing their 7-2 win over Belgium in 1994.

Korea also bettered their goal difference. They have scored 14 goals and conceded seven.

The Asian team had a measure of their opponent in the first half before pounding Canada after the breather with relentless raids. The Korean forwards toyed with the rival defence. They would reach deep into the rival half with swift moves and precision passes, diving and sliding at the goal mouth to guide the ball in with a touch of their stick.

They made it look easy, but the execution was brilliant and the end-product beautiful to watch.

Hyo Sik scored one of the best goal of the tournament as he launched into a solo, dribbled past four defenders and finished with a reverse hit on the run.

Korea got six penalty corners and converted four.

In the second match, Argentina, the lowest-ranked side in the World Cup, struck the winner as Callioni (55th minute) showed fine opportunism to connect an incisive cross from Pedro Ibarra into the far corner of the net, stunning the rival defenders.

The goalless first half of the slow-paced match saw the New Zealanders create more chances but failed to convert any, including a penalty stroke, in the face of a resolute Argentine defence.

After the defeat, New Zealand remained on six points from four matches, to fall behind The Netherlands, Germany and Korea.

After three consecutive defeats, Argentina picked up full three points to be in the fifth position. Canada is the only team in the pool without any points.

–Indo-Asian News Service


( 691 Words)