Another key day in the Olympic tournament sees Pool B look virtually done and dusted barring an unlikely huge win for Britain over Australia. On the other hand, Pool A will have an intriguing finale with Spain, Germany, New Zealand and Korea all in the mix.
In the game’s opening match, Britain threw away their chance of a semi-final shot with a 1-1 draw with Canada in a poor encounter, characterised by individual errors and ill-discipline. Matt Daly and Sukhwinder Singh had both spent time in the bin for first-half indiscretions before James Tindall’s idiotic dump tackle (pictured) on Rob Short reduced the Brits to ten men.
It proved a pivotal moment as Canada gained the upper hand, creating their first real chances – other than in the opening seconds. Veteran Kenny Perreira banged in from the edge of the circle and gave the British a huge uphill battle for the win they needed.
Daly got a neat deflection with three minutes left but there was little way back. Afterwards, Tindall showed little remorse for his actions, saying “It was just one of those things and if he climbs all over me I’m not going to back down. I wasn’t trying to hurt him and with hindsight I’d probably do it again.”
His coach, Jason Lee, was less than impressed. “I’m sure the international governing body will ban him for the next game. I’ve told him off and I can’t defend it and I expect he’ll be punished further”
In the late game, the Netherlands and Australia played out a lively 2-2 draw, to put the Brits on the edge of elimination. The sides have been the two most impressive so far in the tournament, though the Dutch will be worried about their reliance on penalty corner maestro Taeke Taekema for their goals.
He opened the scoring in the 58th minute but two goals in three minutes from Eddie Ockenden and a corner from Luke Doerner swung the tie in the Kookaburra’s direction. Taekema, though, tied the game up with a final-hooter corner. It leaves the pair three points ahead of GB with vastly superior goal differences.
In the other group game, South Africa got their first goal of the tournament through Austin Smith. It equalised Muhammad Javed’s ninth minute strike but star striker Shakeel Abbassi and a stroke from Muhammad Saqlain made the game safe to ensure their spot in the 5th to 8th place playoffs.
Pool A 1. Australia (10, +17), 2. Netherlands (10, +8), 3. Great Britain (7, +3), 4. Pakistan (6, 0), 5. Canada (1, -9), 6. South Africa (0, -19)
Germany battled hard to keep their place in the competition. Indeed, of results had gone against them, they could have been eliminated but a courageous 1-0 win over Spain kept them in the competition.
The Germans outstanding defence within their own circle was a highlight and will probably adorn many a coaching video, with Timo Wess repelling lots of attacks. The Spanish had a huge number of circle penetrations but had scarcely any shots on target while their five corners were repelled easily.
Moritz Furste knocked in a rebound after a cleverly worked free-in for the game’s decisive goal a couple of minutes before the break.
The result moves Germany back into the top two in the group, trailing Spain by a point as New Zealand missed their chance to move onto nine points against China.
China started off all guns blazing, scoring in the third minute through Song Yi. He doubled up with a second penalty corner goal, and New Zealand were gasping for air.
Simon Child got the Blacksticks back involved just before the break and Shea McAleese batted a loose ball into the net halfway through the second half. That was all they could do however, despite frantic last dicth efforts towards the end of the game, and the scoreline remained tied in a fantastic, high-tempo game.
Korea remain in the mix with a brace of goals from Hyo Sik You helped them come from a goal behind to beat Belgium 3-1.
Belgium took a deserved lead through Jerome Dekeyser who blasted in from a tight angle. Jerome Truyens was convinced he scored Belgium’s second goal when he appeared to deflect a shot into the goal from the top of the circle but the video umpire denied the goal.
Korea’s zippy play broke the Belgian’s shackles in the second half, with You deflecting in a cross – also subject to the video umpire – before the European’s feel apart.
Jang netted a corner before You got a third from a superb right-wing move and now face a crucial final game against Spain. A win sees the Koreans through, while New Zealand can also advance if they win against Germany and Korea and Spain draw.
Pool B: 1. Spain (9, +3), 2. Germany (8, +4), 3. Korea (7, +3), 4. New Zealand (7, +3), 5. Belgium (1, -6), 6. China (1, -7)