CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE 2007 HIGHLIGHTS

Lombi fires Argentina to title win

01/07/2007
July 1, 2007
Boom, Belgium

New Zealand 2 Argentina 3

By Sundeep Misra

Veteran Jorge Lombi fired a brilliant hat-trick to power Argentina past New Zealand 3-2 to clinch the Champions Challenger Hockey Tournament here on Sunday. Lombi’s third goal in the 73rd minute gave Argentina a golden goal victory.

New Zealand had taken a 2-0 lead, through two goals by Hayden Shaw and with only four minutes remaining in the match, nobody gave a ghost of a chance to Argentina who had missed eight penalty corners. But Lombi came into the act and with three consecutive penalty corner conversions sent Argentina flying to victory.

Two penalty corner conversions tied the scores at 2-2 sending the match into extra-time golden goal. And then in the 73rd minute, Argentina earned their 11th penalty corner and Lombi was on target, the ball flying into the corner netting.

A stunned New Zealand sat around the pitch not knowing what had happened.

With nine goals to his tally in the tournament, Hayden Shaw has been the king of penalty corner conversions. Two conversions in the second half almost gave the Kiwis the title on a platter. But Jorge Lombi after missing the first eight cut the lead to 1-2 when he converted Argentina’s ninth penalty corner.

With four minutes remaining, Argentina piled on the pressure and pushed New Zealand back. Then came the tenth penalty corner for Argentina and Lombi didn’t disappoint, flicking in a low ball between the goalkeeper and the defender.

At 2-2, the drama wasn’t over. With 30 seconds remaining, Hayden Shaw sent an aerial ball into the Argentina striking circle. Bradley Shaw was brought down and New Zealand had a penalty corner that could have finished off the game as the hooter had already gone. But two consecutive penalty corners were saved by Argentina.

With the victory here at Boom, Argentina have qualified for the 2008 Champions Trophy; the South-Americans are back in the elite six.



India hold off England, clinch bronze
01/07/2007
July 1, 2007
Boom, Belgium

India 4 England 3

By Sundeep Misra

At 4-0 after 22 minutes, it seemed that England would be white-washed in the bronze medal match. But India, generosity dripping from their hockey sticks, let England back into the game, allowing them to score thrice before holding onto the ball in the last few minutes to take the match and third place 4-3 in the Champions Challenger Hockey Tournament on Sunday.

It was probably the most fiery start in recent years from the Indian striking line.

Dilip Tirkey, playing at his best in the first half, displayed such solidity that his detractors (a few in recent times) would do well to tender an apology note.

Both Dilip and Gurbaj were at their best in the opening minutes. India opened the scoring sheets in the third minute when Gurbaj streaked into the English half and pushed the defence from the right of the striking circle before letting loose a cross that was fired in by Tushar Khandker. The Indian Airlines forward, Tushar, didn’t make much of an impact in the previous matches. But today, his sprinting in the circle, trapping and predatory instincts, made everyone again realize the impact that he can have in the frontline.

Within three minutes of the first goal, India again gained possession, sped into the English half and Sardara Singh laid a cross for Tushar in the middle of the striking circle. Tushar’s first timer, delivered full-blooded, went screaming into the English goal.

At 2-0, the Indians looked sharp and ready to decimate the opposition.

Dilip Tirkey realizing that the English were afraid to come up took command of the play from the back coming up to the midfield, even entering the English half. After one such foray, India had a free hit, some five metres outside the English striking circle. Seeing Sandeep Singh free of a marker, Dilip screamed for him and sent a hit that Sandeep trapped, swiveled around to flick it into the net. India led 3-0.

The fourth was again off a Dilip hit. The former captain was at his aggressive best, egging on the players to control the game and fall back together.

Dilip’s free hit in the 22nd minute was trapped and shot by Shivender Singh. But the rebound off the goalkeeper was picked up by Roshan Minz who made it 4-0.

At the pace, the Indians were playing; it seemed that a massacre was on the cards. Prabhjot and Tushar came close to scoring but each time their shots were just short of the target.

England, meanwhile, were trying to gain possession. A stray attack in the 34th minute, England’s second in the first half, saw Baljit Singh coming off his line but allowing the ball to slip between his pads. It was a lack of focus on the part of the Indian goalkeeper. India, probably, went off the pitch, thinking if they had let England open the door a wee bit.

In the second half, India relaxed and that was enough for England to charge in. In today’s game, a 4-0 lead is never enough. Especially, against an English side that can counter-attack with speed and precision.

India should have held the ball and either built up pace or slow the game with possession. They did neither. They lost the balls in the midfield where Sardara and Bimal, surprisingly, seemed tentative.

The defence was holding off the attacks but England sensed that the Indians were not willing to come up and counter-attack. Off an attack in the 55th minute, England earned a penalty corner which Baljit took on the pads. Tindall picked up the rebound and shot it in the corner.

At 2-4, things were becoming hot in the Indian half.

With seven minutes left in the match, England had another penalty corner. Instead of going for a direct flick, they played the ball, selling India a dummy and when they had the defence pulled away to one side, crossed the ball where Simon Mantell had an empty goal to tap the ball in.

The Indian fans, on the edge now, shouted for the Indian team to hold and move up.

India held off the English in the remaining minutes to add a second international bronze medal to their kitty. Earlier, they had won the Azlan Shah bronze in Malaysia.

Indian coach Joaquim Carvalho was disappointed that India couldn’t finish higher than third. “We came with the ambition of winning the Champions Challenger and that is the big disappointment,” he said.

Speaking on the England match, he said, “I think we gave the ball too easily away in the second half. We let them dominate. We were defending but then we shouldn’t have given the ball away in the midfield.”


Japan beat Belgium 4-3, finish 5th
01/07/2007
July 1, 2007
Boom, Belgium

Japan 4 Belgium 3

By Sundeep Misra

Hosts Belgium and Japan played a thriller in which Belgium after taking a 2-0 lead let Japan back into the match and let the Asian side dominate the second half to finally win 4-3 and finish fifth in the Champions Challenger Hockey Tournament here on Sunday.

With eight minutes left in the match, Japan was hanging onto their 3-2 lead which was neutralized by Belgium to 3-3. But a failed penalty corner let the Japanese come up with a pacy counter-attack which led to the match winner in the 68th minute by Yoshihiro Anai. The Belgians, who had shown a lot of spunk in the tournament, even managing to beat Argentina, were devastated.

Jerome Dekeyser scored two consecutive penalty corner goals in the 17th and 21st minute to give Belgium a flying start.

Japan, fought back to equalize with goals in the 25th and 27th minute; Katsuyoshi Nagasawa and Takahiko Yamabori getting the goals.

At the break, both the teams were locked 2-2.

Japan took the lead in the 57th minute when they got a penalty corner which was successfully flicked in by Kazuo Yoshida.

Eight minutes to go, Belgium had a brilliant move from their left flank, Amaury De Cock, waiting till the last minute and then flicking it past the Japanese goalkeeper Shunsuke Nagaoka.

But Japan kept up the pressure despite Belgium getting two penalty corners. Taking advantage of an error by the Belgians off a penalty corner, Japan used it to launch a counter-attack which Yoshihiro Anai was quick to dispatch it past the Belgian goalkeeper Cedric Degreve.

Japan finish fifth while Belgium end up sixth.


England thrash Belgium 6-2; India-England face-off
30/06/2007
June 30th, 2007
Boom, Belgium

England 6 Belgium 2

By Sundeep Misra

Smarting from their indifferent form in the Champions Challenger, England made use of every opportunity against hosts Belgium to thrash them 6-2 in their last league match here on Saturday.

England now take on India in the bronze-medal play-off on Sunday.

The first half was competitive with England scoring twice in the 26th and 28th minute off goals from Martin Jones and Matt Daly.

Belgium came back in the second half to cut the scores to 1-2 in the 47th minute. Jerome Dekeyser firing in the penalty corner to raise hopes of a revival.

But England made it 4-1 with goals from Simon Mantell and Matt Daly in the 53rd and 58th minute.

Belgium fought back to 2-4 in the 60th minute when Gregory Gucasoff pushed in a penalty corner through the goalkeeper’s legs.

In the last ten minutes, the Belgian defence collapsed as they played indifferent hockey in their own striking circle.
England scored in the 65th and 70th minutes. Jonty Clarke cheekily pushing it past the goalkeeper and then Simon Mantell making it 6-2.

England will play the 3rd/4th match against India on Sunday 

 

India beat Japan 4-3, play 3rd/4th
30/06/2007
India 4 Japan 3

June 30th, 2007
Boom Belgium

By Sundeep Misra

India, disappointed that they couldn’t enter the Champions Challenger final, took their frustrations out on the Japanese, beating them 4-3 in their final league engagement here on Saturday.

The victory over Japan enables them to play for the third/fourth position on Sunday.

It was a little late in the day but Sandeep Singh ran into form when he perfectly flicked home giving India the lead. Further goals by Prabhjot Singh (2) and Dilip Tirkey ensured a more or less comfortable win for India. Japan, helped by losses of concentration in the second half were able to cut the lead to 3-4.

Indian coach Joaquim Carvalho, looking disappointed, said, “We are unhappy not to be in the final. And that sometimes showed on the play. But the team held on and did well to beat Japan.”

For the first time in the tournament, Indian forwards combined well with Rajpal, Prabhjot, Tushar combining well to unsettle the Japanese defence.

It was a little surprising that Shivender Singh wasn’t given a long run in the match. The few minutes that he got, he showed his sharpness in the striking circle by teaming up well with Rajpal and Tushar.

Damandeep Singh was yet again disappointing. Though he played up, he showed have come down the field to pick up the ball. Loitering upfront didn’t do any good to the Indians as he hardly had the ball to show any positive play in his time spent on the pitch.

Bimal Lakra played what everyone expects of him. His runs were razor sharp and he played his role of the pivot to perfection. Time and again, his positioning was excellent; picking up the ball in the middle and running hard down the centre to give some excellent through balls. One of his runs in the 34th minute saw him speed past the Japanese defenders before he placed the ball perfectly for Prabhjot Singh to strike home a fantastic goal from the top of the circle.

Rajpal Singh was also in form and some of his most unsettling runs through the Japanese defence happened when he cut through the middle. Time and again, it has been said that Rajpal should be allowed to play through the middle rather than as an outside right. With his skills and speed, he can cut through the defence with ease. Playing as a right-out, his crosses lack the sting to either reach his teammates or the solidity to deflect off defenders sticks.
Prabhjot does have his little band of detractors but for today, the Indian Oil forward did show that he hasn’t lost his scoring touch by hammering in two goals, the second a fluent strike from the top of the circle.

Dilip must have been upset after the game against Argentina, especially the error against Almada that enabled Argentina to score a second goal and close the match off. Determination to erase that memory, Dilip was brilliant scoring a goal and after a long time showing his skills to move up time and again. He did break ranks constantly but he had the Japanese midfield not taking things for granted.

India should have showed urgency in the second half to get in more goals and give a shot of confidence to the team but defensive errors pegged India back enabling Japan to run them close.

India had two penalty corners immediately after the break. The fifth saw India use a variation for the first time in the tournament. Gurbaj turned the ball in for Dilip to take a direct hit but the former Indian captain’s shot edged off the Japanese goalkeeper’s boots before going out.

At the other end, Japan, after a fast counter-attack earned their fourth penalty corner in the 47th minute and made it count when Takahiko Yamabori flicked in past the Indian goalkeeper Baljit Singh.

Prabhjot, full of confidence after scoring two goals, made a super run down the left flank and earned India’s sixth penalty corner. With Sandeep Singh on the bench, Dilip came up to take the hit, delayed it a bit as the Japanese goalkeeper fell in anticipation. Dilip smashed the ball between the pads and the post.

India was holding the ball well but with five minutes to go, a defensive error from the captain Prabodh Tirkey enabled Japan to cut the Indian lead to 3-4. A free hit from outside the circle sped in and Prabodh let the ball go without realizing that Kazuhiro Tsubouchi was lurking behind him. The Japanese dived forward to deflect the ball in past the goalkeeper Baljit Singh.

Japan pressed hard in the remaining minutes and with India down to ten men as Sunil Yadav had been shown the yellow card; players were pulled back to defend.

With the 4-3 victory over Japan, India now play for third/fourth position on Sunday. India’s opponents would be either Belgium or England. 


 

NZ-ARG draw, India out of final
30/06/2007
June 30, 2007
Boom, Belgium

New Zealand 3 Japan 3

By Sundeep Misra

Indian chances of entering the Champions Challenger Tournament went up in smoke when New Zealand and Argentina drew 3-3 in their last league engagement here on Saturday.

For India to reach the Champions Challenger final, the Kiwis had to beat Argentina. India would then have had to wrap up a win over Japan.

But with the 3-3 draw, the final would now be between New Zealand and Argentina.

New Zealand after five matches have 11 points while Argentina have 10 points. Even if India beats Japan now, they would have nine points.

New Zealand opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Philip Burrows flicked in the Kiwis’s first penalty corner.

But within a minute, Argentina had equalized when they picked up a back pass in the Kiwi striking circle as Lucas Vila sped in from the corner and sent a thundering reverse shot into the net.

Argentina took the lead in the 27th minute when Juan Garreta capped a beautiful run with a flick into goal.

New Zealand equalized in the 46th minute when Hayden Shaw flicked in a penalty corner. At 2-2, the handful of Indian fans egged on the Kiwis to get a match-winner.

But Argentina playing strongly in the second half took the lead in the 69th minute when Lucas Vila pushed in a penalty corner flick.

New Zealand forced in a equalizer in the last seconds when Hayden Shaw flicked in his second goal of the match to equalize the scores at 3-3.

New Zealand now play Argentina in the final on Sunday. 


 

Belgium hold NZ 3-3
28/06/2007
June 28th, 2007
Boom, Belgium

New Zealand 3 Belgium 3

Hosts Belgium played their best game of the tournament drawing with New Zealand 3-3. The match played at a fast pace gave a glimpse of the rising Belgian team that is packed with youngsters.

New Zealand after the draw still lead the table with ten points from four matches with a game to go against Argentina on Saturday. Belgium has four points from four matches with a win and today's draw.

Belgium took the lead twice in the 8th and 17th minutes through Thomas Briels and Loic Vandeweghe. New Zealand had equalised in the 14th minute with a goal by Simon Childs.

New Zealand equalised 2-2 in the 19th minute when Dean Couzins flicked in a penalty stroke.

The Kiwis took the lead for the first time in the match in the 27th minute when Simon Childs got his second goal as New Zealand led 3-2.

But three minutes after resumption, Belgium tied the scores at 3-3 when Charles Wandeveghe tapped in a field effort.

New Zealand had their chances off penalty corners but Hayden Shaw was off target.

Belgium too could have walked off shock winners if they had managed to hold the ball well in the Kiwi striking circle. 


 

India dominate, Argentina win
28/06/2007
June 28th, 2007
Boom Belgium

Argentina 2 India 1

By Sundeep Misra

India threw away eleven penalty corners and about five field chances to lose 1-2 to a below-average Argentina side in the Champions Challenger Hockey Tournament here on Thursday.

The defeat against Argentina was also a setback to India’s chances of entering the Champions Challenger final scheduled for Sunday. With this win, Argentina are now on nine points with India on six.

Argentina’s goal record is 10-7 ( 3) and India’s is 8-7 ( 1).

India will now hope that New Zealand beat Argentina on Saturday and they in turn get the better of Japan. With Argentina and India equal on points, in that scenario, goal difference would come into play.

None of those equations would have been necessary if India had utilized their chances in the match.

At the post-match press conference, Indian coach Joaquim Carvalho didn’t turn up. While Argentina coach Sergio Vigil, said, that they were lucky to get past India. “In the Azlan Shah, India scored twice in three minutes. We knew that they could score at any moment of the match, so we were careful in the defence,” said Vigil.

When asked if India’s lack of variation made it easy to defend penalty corners, Vigil, said,” I don’t think so. They have two good convertors in Sandeep Singh and Dilip Tirkey. I think my team and goalkeeper defended well.”

After a goalless first half, Argentina drew first blood through their veteran forward Jorge Lombi who powered in a penalty corner that kissed Adrian’s gloves before hitting the post and cruelly deflecting in. It was Argentina’s third penalty corner of the match.

After that India had five consecutive penalty corners but both Dilip Tirkey and Sandeep Singh lacked variety and variation.

With India pushing into Argentina territory, there was always a danger of a counter-attack. And that came in the 60th minute when Mario Almada sped into the Indian striking circle. Dilip Tirkey covered Mario well, taking the ball away and then in a terrible moment saw the ball slip off the stick and go back to Mario who swooped, saw Adrian come off his charge and with a brilliant reverse hit shot it into goal. Argentina led 2-0 and Almada had taken the match away from India.

India, on the other hand, kept pushing and earning penalty corners. Sandeep Singh, who wasn’t there for the first five as he sat on the bench, came in for the last six. But even his presence couldn’t push India past the post as winners. Penalty corner after corner was wasted as India predictably kept doing the same routine. No variation was used and neither any single penalty corner saw the dummy being sold to the Argentina defence.

Finally, India got a penalty stroke in the 64th minute which Sandeep did well to put away.

India still managed to get another three penalty corners but the Argentine goalkeeper, their number two, Mariano Chao was superb on the line. At least, five times he came out to take the flick on the gloves and for Dilip’s direct hits, he was ready with the pads.

Along with the failure of Dilip and Sandeep in the penalty corner department, it was also the failure of Mohinder Pal Singh who is the assistant coach and a former India captain known for his direct hits in the seventies. The management needs to take a major portion of the flak if there are no variations in the penalty corner department.
Except for the error by Dilip that led to the second Argentina goal, the defence was quite sound. The worry is still in the forward line that needs to start getting field goals.

The coaches also need to decide whether they trust Sandeep Singh with field play. Except for the opening minutes, he was kept on the bench for the remainder of the first half. That is not a vote of confidence that a player requires. India needs to have faith in him and he needs to get to play so that his errors are ironed out. Most penalty corner convertors in the world are shaky when it come to field play but there are not hidden away. It’s better to expose them so they start getting some confidence in field play.

After a rest day on Friday, India now play Japan on Saturday. The advantage is that they would be playing after the New Zealand-Argentina match. In case, New Zealand beat Argentina, India would know how many to score against Japan and plan for the match. 


 

England beat Japan 4-3
28/06/2007
June 28, 2007
Boom, Belgium

England 4 Japan 3

England, finally, pulled off their first victory in four matches, beating Japan 4-3 in the Champions Challenge Hockey Tournament here on Thursday.

It was an uphill task for England, especially, after Japan had taken the lead in the 10th minute off a penalty corner scored by Yamabori Takahiko.

England struggled to get into the Japanese striking circle but the efforts paid off in the 29th minute when they scored off a penalty corner by Richard Mantell.

England took the lead in the 50th minute, yet again off a penalty corner scored by Richard Alexander.

But Japan equalised in the 59th minute when Yoshihiro Anai flicked in a penalty corner.

In the last nine minutes, England scored twice through field efforts by Jonty Clarke and Rob Moore.

In the closing seconds, Japan cut the score-line to 3-4 by firing in a penalty corner, neatly flicked in by Yamabori Takahiko.

It was England's first win in the tournament which also gives them their first three points. Japan also are on three points after three defeats and a win. 


 

England crash to 3rd defeat
26/06/2007
June 26th, 2007
Boom, Belgium

New Zealand 3 England 1

England suffered it third successive loss as New Zealand beat England 3-1 at the men’s hockey Champions Challenge at Boom, outside Antwerp in Belgium on Tuesday.

New Zealand’s Hayden Shaw converted two of three penalty corners and the third ricocheted off the head of Rob Moore in goal, wearing a head mask, which drew a penalty stroke, converted by Dean Couzins along the pitch inside the left post.

England’s sole goal came from a penalty corner attempt by Simon Mantell with Rob Moore getting the rebound off Kyle Pontifex in New Zealand’s goal to score into the left of goal.

England and New Zealand pressed defensively and in attack from time to time but neither gained the necessary advantage from the presses.

“We missed the killer move out of the presses today,” said Jason Lee, England’s coach. “But we are getting further out of our defensive zone than we did against Argentina where we struggled to get out of our defensive quarter. Today we were losing the ball further up the field,” Lee said.

“We made some decent plays today and we need to do a lot of hard work in the next 6 weeks before the European Championships to correct the mistakes we are making such as hitting a penalty corner waist high into the net,” Lee said.

“This team has not played enough at this level to get it right consistently,” Lee said. 


 

India beat Belgium 4-1
26/06/2007
June 26th, 2007
Boom, Belgium

India 4 Belgium 1

By Sundeep Misra

India swept aside Belgium’s challenge winning their second consecutive match 4-1 in the Champions Challenger Hockey Tournament here on Tuesday. If the rains finally went away, it was replaced by chilly winds that had the temperatures dipping to almost 14 degrees Celsius. Even the Belgians who thronged the stadium to cheer their team wore thick jackets and made a bee-line for the coffee stalls at the break.

Hopes had been raised by the Belgian side after their 3-2 victory over Argentina. But in the first five minutes off the match, India packed its midfield, cut off the crosses and swamped the Belgian striking circle with penetrative moves. Most of the Indian moves came off the right flank.

India drew first blood in the 13th minute when Sandeep Singh got his first goal off the tournament. It was a move from the left that gave India its first penalty corner and Sandeep Singh fired in perfectly for India to lead 1-0.

The attacks continued unabated. Two minutes later, Gurbaj, the pick of the Indian team, relayed a cross from the right which deflected off Minz’ stick to Prabhjot who made no mistake striking it past the goalkeeper for a 2-0 lead.
Gregory Gucasoff has been touted as the new penalty corner star of Belgium and most countries in Europe have been watching him with huge interest. He didn’t disappoint the Belgian fans as he flicked in powerfully to equalize the scores at 1-1. Sandeep Singh tried stopping the penalty corner but the ball went past and an unsighted Adrian D’Souza couldn’t take it on the gloves.

With three minutes to go for the break, Gurbaj was again in the thick of action. Prabhjot deflected his cross that hit the post and came back into play for Shivender to dive and tap in past the Belgian goalkeeper.

India led 3-1 at the break.

India held on the lead for most of the second half as the Belgians did their best to break the Indian moves. Sunil Yadav got a yellow card in the 61st minute but despite that India earned their second penalty corner of the match and was happily smiling when Dilip Tirkey smashed in a direct hit.

Indian coach Carvalho was happy that they got some dry weather and the team was able to put up a good display. “I wish we could have score more goals,” he said. “But I am happy because it might come to a stage where goal difference could be taken into consideration.”

India now gets a day’s rest before taking on Argentina on Thursday.

With the win over Belgium, India has six points and would be looking to wrap up their league engagements with two more wins and a place in the final. 


 

Argentina beat Japan 2-0
26/06/2007
June 26, 2007
Boom, Belgium

Argentina 2 Japan 0

Argentina kept themselves in contention for a place in the final beating Japan 2-0 in a league match of the Champions Challenger Hockey Tournament here on Tuesday.

After a day's rest, both Argentina and Japan played the first match of the day with the South Americans dominating the first half. They distinctly unlucky in not scoring more than twice in the first half.

Both goals in the first half came off penalty corners with Pedro Ibarra and Rodrigo Vila scoring in the 10th and 15th minutes respectively.

Japan couldn't make much headway and seemed clueless tactically on how to break the Argentine midfield down.
They had a few chances in the striking circle but their forwards lacked numbers in breaking past the Argentina defenders.

The second half didn't showcase any spectacular hockey. The South Americans decided midway through the second half that defending and killing time was a better option and they downed shutters.

Argentina now have six points from three matches. They have lost to Belgium but beaten England and Japan.
Japan have three points after their solitary win against Belgium. They have lost to New Zealand and Argentina. 


 

Belgium shock Argentina
24/06/2007
Boom, Belgium
June 24, 2006

Belgium ranked 13th in the world stunned tournament top seed Argentina (7th) with a 3-2 victory to take Belgium’s first points in the tournament and leave New Zealand in the lead with 6 points in the men’s field hockey Champions Challenge on Sunday.

The home crowd celebrated wildly at the final whistle.

Belgium shocked Argentina and their own supporters with two first half penalty corner conversions by Gregory Gucasoff to take a 2-0 lead.

Argentina’s specialist corner flicker, Jorge Lombi, had two penalty corner attempts in the first half with Belgium’s goalkeeper, Cedric Degreve saving both.

Argentina came back in the 40th minute with a variation penalty corner at which Jorge Lombi laid off to Juan Gilardi on his left for Gilardi to flick into the right side of the goal to have Argentina back in the game at 2-1.

Belgium kept it’s structure and tempo and was rewarded in the 54th minute to go ahead 3-1 through a field goal to Thomas Briels laying off a pass into the circle then taking the pass back to make a backstick shot past Juan Vivaldi in Argentina’s goal.

Argentina had 5 penalty corners (match total 10) in the last 15 minutes of play. Jorge Lombi slotted only one of the 5 attempts, 2 minutes from time to give Argentina a chance of a draw.

Argentina’s last penalty corner came in the last minute but Degreve saved Lombi’s flick on his left glove to start the off-field celebrations.

Argentina's coach, Sergio Vigil gave credit to Belgium for the win. "Today Belgium played better than Argentina and they deserved to win. We were less organised today than we were against England and in those moments when we were not organised, Belgium scored," Vigil said.

Belgium's coach, Giles Bonnet, agreed that Belgium had performed better today than they had against Japan yesterday when Belgium lost 1-2.

"It is not often we beat Argentina and we did it by controlling the momentum of the match and putting pressure on the defence of Argentina," Bonnet said.

"Argentina has strong midfielders and strikers but if they have a weakness it is in their defence so we tried to stop their defence from creating outlets to the midfield," Bonnet added. 


 

India beat England 3-2
24/06/2007
By Sundeep Misra

India 3 England 2

Boom, Belgium
June 24, 2007

Joaquim Carvalho’s statement after the 3-2 victory over England summed up the mood in the Indian camp. “We needed this victory very badly,” he said, relaxed while sipping a cup of coffee in the press centre. “I was a bit worried about the weather conditions and was relieved when the rains stopped during the last 20 minutes of the match.”
The downpour did stop in time for Indian outside-left Prabhjot Singh to strike home the match-winner in the 54th minute. With three points from two games, India would breathe easy tonight and after a day’s rest on Monday take on hosts Belgium.

Minutes before the crucial encounter between India and England, the rains came in as the turf filled up with water. Predictably, England dominated the opening minutes. They were faster on the counter; speedy with the ball and also put in more shoulder behind the crosses and the through balls. It was a little surprising that India were still finding it tough on the heavy turf. Instead of holding the ball, creating space for the crosses to the flanks, they decided to dribble past the English midfield.

England’s counter-attacks were swift and more than once in the opening minutes, India was caught on the wrong foot.

India still managed a first strike at their opponent when they earned a penalty corner but Sandeep’s curved end of the stick couldn’t cleanly grasp the ball.

On a wet turf, a heavy direct hit would have paid off.

But when England crashed one of their penalty corner flicks onto Sandeep Singh’s knees and he painfully hobbled off, things seemed a bit bleak for India.

An error in the midfield was punished quite ruthlessly by India. They snatched the ball, sent it across to the right flank where a perfect cross found Gurbaj trapping beautifully and giving it to Minz who set it up for Rajpal. With a few feet space in front, the Indian forward lashed a strike that went past the England goalkeeper and almost tore the netting out.

England answered with a couple of penalty corners. Adrian D’Souza did well to keep them out but off the fifth, the ball rebounded off his pads, popped up and before an Indian defender could clear it, Richard Mantell pounced and shot it between Adrian’s pads.

Immediately after resumption, India earned a penalty corner and since Sandeep was on the bench, Dilip Tirkey came up and struck a goal with a direct hit that screamed off the goalkeeper’s stick into the English goal. India led 2-1.

In the 49th minute, yet another Indian defensive error with both Adrian and Prabodh Tirkey going for the ball saw Jonty Clarke’s hit enter the Indian goal after deflecting off Prabodh’s stick.

The match winner came in the 54th minute when the rains stopped as the turf cleared up for the Indians to hold and play their short passing game. Yet another cross from the right found Prabhjot who picked up the ball and waited for England goalkeeper Brothers to commit himself before tapping it past him.

Joaquim Carvalho put Sandeep back into the team for the last ten minutes and used the aerial ball to ensure that England didn’t build up too many moves.

Apart from the rain stopping in the last 20 odd minutes, the Indian coach said that ‘Belgium’s win over Argentina propped up the boys and they decided to win this game.’

“I think the tournament is wide open now and anything can happen,” said Carvalho. “I don’t under-estimate any team and we would not take Belgium lightly on Tuesday.”

Carvalho again laid emphasis on the fact that ‘his team needs more experience and time to grow into better players. They are young and it would be good if they are given the support.’ 


 

New Zealand crush Japan
24/06/2007
Boom, Belgium
June 24th, 2007

New Zealand 4 Japan 0

New Zealand remained on course to reach the final of the Champions Challenger Hockey Tournament here in Boom beating Japan 4-0 in their second match on Sunday.

After playing hard hockey on a slushy turf for almost 30 minutes in which Japan also threw away a few chances, Kiwis took the lead in the 31st minute of a penalty corner converted by Hayden Shaw.

Two minutes later, 33rd minute, Ryan Archibald banged in a field effort after being fed by the flanks.

Immediately after resumption Hayden Shaw converted his second penalty corner of the match as New Zealand led 3-0.

Japan was struggling to put together a decent midfield effort.

Philip Burrows got New Zealand their fourth goal converting a penalty corner.

New Zealand now has six points from two matches. On Saturday, they beat India 2-0 in their tournament opener.
For Japan, this was their first defeat in two matches. They had, earlier, beaten Belgium 2-1. 


 

Argentina beat England 4-3
23/06/2007
Argentina 4 England 3

Boom, Belgium
June 23rd, 2007

By Sundeep Misra

Finally the weather cleared and the crowds had something to cheer about as Argentina and England gave a glimpse of how hockey should be played. There was pace, stick-work, excellent penalty corner conversions and some great defensive work.

If England were lucky enough to get the lead with a shot from the top of the circle that deflected into the Argentine goal of a defenders stick, the South Americans didn’t let that disappointment bog them down.

Jorge Lombi led from the front scoring twice and having a hand in the third goal too.

Lombi equalized with a penalty corner and then soon enough Lombi was behind en English defender to deflect in a free hit.

Argentina went 3-1 up when Lombi’s penalty corner went off the goalkeeper’s pads to roll free. Rey was right there upfront to slam the goal.

Rodrigo Villa made it 4-1 and it looked curtains for England.

But the English fought back and scored from a stroke to make it 2-4. Ben Hawes made it 3-4.

But with two players sent off in different periods forced England on the defensive. They played twenty minutes of the match with ten men and that made a difference in their attacking prowess.

For Argentina, it was an important win and three points.

England now face India on Sunday. Both teams have lost their opening encounters and would go all out in their search for a win that would keep them in reckoning for a place in the final.

Earlier in the day, Japan beat Belgium 2-1 while New Zealand beat India 2-0. 


 

NZ utilise their chances
23/06/2007
New Zealand 2 India 0

By Sundeep Misra

Boom, Belgium
June 23, 2007

The rains did come as a dampener. But the cloak of disappointment that wrapped itself around the Indian team after the 0-2 loss to New Zealand would take some peeling away.

It wouldn't be a good feeling for the players to walk away with a defeat. It never has and never will be. But it would do them good and the management to actually find the reasons why India didn't win 2-0 or 1-0? And also why did New Zealand win?

Carvalho wasn't too different in saying what his predecessors had been saying all the time. "Things didn't click," was his obvious explanation or observation.

But is that good enough? Good enough for a team that has been seeded number one here by the FIH.

The players walked away in small groups desperate to get away to the hotel while Coach Joaquim Carvalho could have been given the benefit of the doubt if he had failed to attend the customary press conference.

But he did well to hide his disappointment. Sugar-wrapping his criticism of the Indian team, he simply, said,” You can’t blame the conditions. The forwards didn’t click, the midfield gave away too many balls and we should have scored from the two penalty corners we earned.”

In a way, it was a brief but severe indictment of the Indian team.

“Apart from that, we gave too much space to them to receive the ball. And the defence committed crucial errors.”
Except for a five-minute respite in the break, the rains never stopped making the turf heavy, virtually making the Indian forwards in-effective in playing the reverse ball. The New Zealanders exploited it better as their bigger forwards made up the lack of speed with power in their legs as they hunted down the stray balls ferociously.
“Our forwards just lacked the flow,” explained Carvalho. “Normally, we play with the rhythm and knowing that we tried three systems of play but they couldn’t raise the level.”

India’s trump card Sandeep Singh could have wrenched the match away from New Zealand if he had been on target with his first two penalty corners, one in each half. But the accuracy was missing. “That was crucial,” Carvalho admitted. “If we had converted even one of them, New Zealand would have come at us and we could have split open the gaps on the counter-attack.”

Listening to Carvalho was like hearing a coach whose team had been pipped to the post. Honestly, the ‘if’ factor also hung heavy.

In such a match, where both the teams try and make a chance count, it was the penalty corner that would have been the decider.

And after Sandeep missed his second, one felt that New Zealand would ensure that didn’t fail. The Kiwis earned three consecutively but Hayden Shaw failed. Just when the chances of a goalless draw were becoming a talking point, New Zealand earned their fourth penalty corner. Sunil Yadav swiped at the ball just around the centre-line. Carvalho feels there was no error in the defensive play and the South African umpire was pointing to a free hit when the Korean umpire Kim Hong pointed for a penalty corner. Carvalho refused to speak on the umpiring.

“The tournament is not over,” said Carvalho. “We play England on Sunday and would put up a better show. I am still confident of playing the final.”

New Zealand’s second goal was an opportunity that every good team would use. Knowing that the Indians would move up in the midfield to look for the equalizer, New Zealand used the counter-attack and in a brilliant one-to-one play, David Kosoof ensured that there would be no last minute dramatic equalizer from the Indians.

 

The tournament is not over but India would have to ensure that they are serious about a final placing by beating England on Sunday. Against England, India’s mental strength would be on test.



Champions Challenge 2007 Teams and Schedule

ARGENTINA

Players 
• Vivaldi J.M. (GK) 
• Gilardi J.I. 
• Chao M.R. (GK) 
• Almada M.N. 
• Rey L.M. 
• Vila R.N. 
• Vila L. 
• Lombi J.M. 
• Zylberberg F.O. 
• Cammareri L.H. 
• Garreta J.E. 
• Argento I.T. 
• Rey M.A. 
• Argento I.L. 
• Ibarra P. 
• Rossi L.R. 
• Corradini A.E. 
• Bergner I.R. 


Coach 
• Vigil S.R. 
Assistant Coach 
• Retegui C.J. 
• Fuentes A. 


Physical Trainer 
• Barrionuevo L.B. 
Team Manager 
• Grondona J.M. 
Stand-in Manager 
• Galliano M. 
Medical Doctor 
• Blanco J.I. 
Psycologist 
• Ruiz E. 
Physiotherapist 
• Muzzio D.

Video Operator 
• Micheli R. 

-----------------------------------------------

BELGIUM

Players 
• Bertrand M. 
• Bourdeaud'hui F. 
• Briels T. 
• Charlier C. 
• Degreve C. (GK) 
• De Cock A. 
• Dekeyser J. 
• Dohmen J.-J. 
• Goldberg P. 
• Gucassoff G. 
• Houssein P. 
• Luycx M. 
• Truyens J. 
• Van Den Balck T. (C) 
• Van Hove B. 
• Van Rysselbergh (GK) 
• Vandeweghe L. 
• Vandeweghe C. 


Coach 
• Bonnet G. 
Assistant Coach
• Kina P. 
Team Manager 
• Lechat J. 
Stand-in Manager 
• Celis P. 
Medical Doctor 
• Bell J. 
Physiotherapist 
• Florentz D. 


--------------------------------------------------

ENGLAND

Players 
• Brothers N. (GK) 
• Kirkham G. (C) 
• Alexander R. 
• Mantell R. 
• Jackson A. 
• Mantell S. 
• Jones M. 
• Daly M. 
• Garrard B. 
• Clarke J. 
• Moore R. 
• Hawes B. 
• Cordon S. 
• Middleton B. 
• Tindall J. 
• Bleby J. 
• Marsden B. 
• Fair J. (GK) 

Coach
• Lee J. 
Assistant Coach 
• Bunyan D. 
Team Manager 
• Nicholson P. 
Stand-in Manager 
• Hurst J.

Medical Doctor 
• Wotherspoon M. 
Physiotherapist
• Hanna L.
------------------------------------------

INDIA

Players 
• D'Souza A. 
• Singh S. 
• Singh S. 
• Singh R. 
• Tirkey P. (C) 
• Lakra B. 
• Tirkey D. 
• Xalxo W. 
• Yadav S. 
• Singh S. 
• Singh P. 
• Singh G. 
• Chikkara B. 
• Khandker T. 
• Singh B. 
• Minz R. 
• Kanth V. 
• Singh D. 


Coach
• Carvalho J. 
Assistant Coach 
• Parmeswaran R. 
Team Manager 
• Shetty R.K. 
Stand-in Manager 
• Singh M.P.

Medical Doctor 
• - 
Physiotherapist
• Srikanth

---------------------------------------------

JAPAN

Players 
• Nagaoka S. (GK) 
• Yoshida K. 
• Ito M. 
• Bito Y. 
• Kawakami K. 
• Katayama K. 
• Ozawa K. (C) 
• Tsubouchi K. 
• Yamabori T. 
• Furusato R. 
• Noda H. 
• Ito A. 
• Chaki Y. 
• Maeda K. 
• Mizawa T. 
• Nagasawa K. 
• Anai Y. 
• Takase K. (GK) 


Coach 
• Takahashi A. 
Assistant Coach
• Yasuda Z.
• Fujiwara N. 
Team Manager 
• Nagaya K. 
Stand-in Manager 
• Yasuda Z. 
Medical Doctor 
• Kawaguchi J. 
Physiotherapist 
• Kawamura A. 

----------------------------------------------

NEW ZEALAND

Players 
• Kosoof D. 
• Haig N. 
• Child S. 
• Hopping B. 
• Couzins D. 
• Henwood C. 
• Archibald R. (C) 
• Shaw B. 
• Hari B. 
• Woolford P. (GK) 
• Pontifex K. (GK) 
• Burrows P. 
• Shaw H. 
• Nation J. 
• Collins B. 
• Stephenson L. 
• Collier B. 
• Edwards S. 

Coach 
• McLeod S. 
Assistant Coach
• Smith D. 
Team Manager 
• Marr K. 
Stand-in Manager 
• Churchill L.
Physiotherapist 
• D'Souza G.


Points Table
S.No Nation P W D L Goals Points
1. New Zealand 5 3 2 0 15:7 11
2. Argentina 5 3 1 1 13:10 10
3. India 5 3 0 2 12:10 9
4. England 5 2 0 3 16:15 6
5. Belgium 5 1 1 3 10:17 4
6. Japan 5 1 0 4 8:15 3

Saturday 23rd of June 2007 
13:45 India - New Zealand 
16:00 Belgium - Japan 
18:30 England - Argentina 

Sunday 24th of June 2007 
14:00 New Zealand - Japan 
16:15 Argentina - Belgium 
18:45 India - England 

Monday 25th of June 2007 
REST DAY 

Tuesday 26th of June 2007 
14:30 Japan - Argentina 
16:45 England - New Zealand 
19:00 Belgium - India 

Wednesday 27th of June 2007 
REST DAY 

Thursday 28th of June 2007 
14:30 England - Japan
16:45 Argentina - India 
19:00 New Zealand - Belgium

Friday 29th of June 2007 
REST DAY 

Saturday 30th of June 2007 
11:30 New Zealand - Argentina 
13:45 India - Japan
16:00 Belgium - England

Sunday 1st of July 2007 
Places 5/6 or Places 3/4
12:30 - Places 3/4 or Places 5/6
15:00 - Places 1/2
17:30 -

 

 

 

 

     

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