Hold­ers Aus­tralia ham­mer China 11-0

Govers scores a hat-trick for the de­fend­ing champs, Eng­land knock out Ire­land with 4-2 win

Gulf Times Sport - - FRONT PAGE -

Aus­tralia fin­ished their Pool B cam­paign with a dom­i­nat­ing 11-0 win over a hap­less China in the on­go­ing Men’s Hockey World Cup here at Kalinga Sta­dium yesterday.

How­ever, as Eng­land de­feated Ire­land 4-2, both Eng­land and China will progress to the crossovers. Eng­land will play New Zealand, while China will take on France on Mon­day.

Reign­ing world cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia were al­ready con­firmed as the win­ners of Pool B fol­low­ing their im­pres­sive 3-0 vic­tory over Eng­land on Tues­day, but that did not stop them want­ing to main­tain their win­ning streak in to­day’s meet­ing against a China team that were un­beaten com­ing into the match.

The Kook­abur­ras were at their scintillating best in the first quar­ter to open up a 2-0 lead, with Blake Govers finding the roof of the China net from a penalty cor­ner be­fore a tap-in from Aran Zelewski dou­bled the ad­van­tage.

Four Aus­tralian goals ar­rived in the fourth quar­ter, with Tom Craig, a sec­ond for Govers, Jeremy Hay­ward and a fine team goal fin­ished off by the ex­cep­tional Jake Whet­ton, who showed in­cred­i­ble re­ac­tions to dive in and guide the ball home from close range.

At 6-0, the Aus­tralians could have been for­given for eas­ing off in the two re­main­ing quar­ters, but it not some­thing any Kook­abur­ras side could ever be ac­cused of. A fur­ther five goals flew into the China net, with player of the match Blake Govers com­plet­ing his hat-trick along­side ef­forts from Tim Brand (2), Dy­lan Wother­spoon and Flynn Ogilvie on tar­get as Aus­tralia made it three wins from three matches.

The boys were hav­ing a lot of fun out there, a lot of goals were scored so I guess we were in the groove”, said Aus­tralia’s Matthew Swann af­ter the match.

“There were a lot of self­less acts out there, when guys could have taken the shot them­selves but laid it off to a guy who was in a bet­ter spot, and it is hard [for China] to pro­tect the whole goal.”

The sec­ond game of the day saw Ire­land play Eng­land with both teams hav­ing one point each at the start of the game. China’s heavy de­feat meant that both Ire­land and Eng­land only needed to draw in or­der to progress through to the knock­out stages, as their re­spec­tive goal dif­fer­ences were now su­pe­rior to the team from Asia.

English player David Con­don opened the scor­ing in the last minute of the first quar­ter. This fol­lowed two scor­ing at­tempts from Liam Ansell and Mark Gleghorne, both off tar­get.

At the 25th minute, Eng­land were very close to dou­bling their ad­van­tage as Ian Sloan missed a great op­por­tu­nity with a hit just past the post.

The start of the sec­ond half was full of ex­cite­ment. Ire­land had to put pres­sure on their op­po­nents to try and find an equaliser to en­sure a place in the next round.

They man­aged to do so in the 35th minute through Chris Cargo. How­ever, two min­utes later, Liam Ansell gave the lead again to Eng­land thanks to a fan­tas­tic hit into the roof of the net.

This was not enough to dis­cour­age the Green Ma­chine who, just a few sec­onds later, equal­ized again with a beau­ti­ful dragflick from Shane O’Donoghue from a penalty-cor­ner. But Eng­land went im­me­di­ately on the at­tack again and scored a third goal only one minute later with a su­perb de­flec­tion from James Gall. Ire­land nearly equalised again sec­onds be­fore the end of the third quar­ter but Michael Dar­ling missed the tar­get. In the last minute of the game, Eng­land con­verted a penalty-cor­ner for their fourth goal by Mark Gleghorne. That meant that Eng­land qual­i­fied for the cross-overs while Ire­land were elim­i­nated.

Eng­land’s Luke Taylor said: “To­day we took our chances. That re­ally helped us and that will give us con­fi­dence go­ing for­ward. We’re not go­ing to worry about any­one else. We’re go­ing to go out there and play our game and do the best we can, re­ally.”

To­day, the fi­nal matches in Pool C will take place, with Bel­gium fac­ing South Africa at 1700IST be­fore home favourites In­dia take on Canada at 1900IST.

In­dia are cur­rently top of Pool C thanks to a marginally su­pe­rior goal dif­fer­ence over sec­ond placed Bel­gium, with Canada hold­ing onto third place ahead of South Africa, again on goal dif­fer­ence. The pool win­ner will earn a di­rect ticket to the quar­ter fi­nals, while the teams that fin­ish sec­ond and third will go into the cross-over play-offs. The team that fin­ishes fourth will be elim­i­nated from the com­pe­ti­tion.

While South Africa cap­tain Tim Drum­mond ex­pects a strong chal­lenge from the Bel­gians, he feels his team are im­prov­ing and will be de­ter­mined to show their own qual­i­ties.

“We were dis­ap­pointed did not get the win against Canada af­ter a much-im­proved over­all team per­for­mance”, said Drum­mond.

“We cre­ated many good scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties but un­for­tu­nately we were not clin­i­cal with our chances. Our game against Bel­gium is one which we will be com­ing out all guns blaz­ing to get a re­sult. We re­spect the Bel­gians but we are go­ing to play with com­plete be­lief in our abil­i­ties to make sure we do our coun­try proud! Over­all I feel we have played some high qual­ity hockey in patches but have not been consistent enough and taken our chances. Against Bel­gium we will be look­ing to im­prove in both as­pects. I am con­fi­dent that if we ex­e­cute our game plan then we will give us ev­ery chance of achiev­ing our goals for the game.”

Look­ing ahead to his team’s match against host na­tion In­dia, Canada Head Coach Paul Bundy said: “We have yet to show our true po­ten­tial in the first two pool games. It’s im­por­tant for us to re­main pos­i­tive and com­pet­i­tive as we en­ter our fi­nal pool match against In­dia.

“Over the last cou­ple years we have been in a sim­i­lar cross­roads with In­dia [Rio 2016 Olympic Games/Hockey World League semi-fi­nal] and come away with re­sults. We will draw on those ex­pe­ri­ences, as we know that all the pres­sure is on In­dia as the host coun­try and team look­ing to top the pool.”

(EPA)

Aus­tralia’s Blake Govers (left) in ac­tion against Du Chen of China dur­ing the men’s Field Hockey World Cup match at the Kalinga Sta­dium in Bhubaneswar yesterday.

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