Australia to face England
5 December 2012
HOCKEY: The Kookaburras will face England in the quarter finals after a tough 1-0 win over Pakistan in the final pool game at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne.
A Kieran Govers penalty corner was the difference as the Kookaburras struggled to break down a well organised Pakistan outfit determined to take it to the world number two.
The winning goal came midway through the second half, following a goal drought of over two hours for the Australians, who played out a nil-all draw against the Netherlands on Sunday.
“We created some chances but poor play let us down. It was my personal goal and I worked on it at training yesterday as I was disappointed to not get one against the Netherlands. The main thing is to get them on goal and force a save,” Govers said.
“It’s just one of those things, luck on the day, lot of pressure on those shots, and it was good to get one under the belt and hopefully a few more come in the next couple of days.”
In a heated opening half it was Pakistan who started the better, forcing the Kookaburras deep into their own half to work an early penalty corner which involved a heated discussion between the two teams.
The Kookaburras found their feet 15 minutes in and started to put pressure on the Pakistan goal with Jason Wilson having the best chance of the half six minutes from time.
Both sides struggled to find an opening and the half finished 0-0.
It was the Kookaburras who had the first real opportunity in the second half with a Jamie Dwyer’s angled shot saved with four minutes on the clock.
With ten minutes gone in the second term in was Shakeel Abbasi who then provided Pakistan with a golden opportunity to take the lead but the striker watched his shot flash pass the goals by on inches.
A tackle from Pakistan striker Shafqat Rasool resulted in a yellow card and penalty corner providing Australia with the opportunity to hit the score sheet. Govers made the most of the opportunity to make it 1-0.
It was Pakistan goal keeper Imran Butt who ensured Australia wouldn’t get a second with five minutes remaining to keep out a well worked play by Victorian Russell Ford.
With two minutes remaining the Kookaburra had a chance to double their score but failed to convert a penalty corner after some slick ball skills from co captain Dwyer.
It was the Kookaburras who had the experience to shut the game out and set a date with England in the quarter finals.
“The first half we started slow, Pakistan started dynamic, pushing, pressing, doing all the right things,” Kookaburras coach Graham Reid said after the match.
“I said to the guys before the game you could see from their (Pakistan) warm up they were pumped, we need to start well, we started poorly but after 15min we got into the game.”
“At half time I said to the team to maintain the pressure. What was good we created the opportunities, we just have to put them away,” Reid said.
In a tight opening game on day three England and New Zealand played out a 1-1 draw with neither side dominating the clash.
“I think it’s an improvement on how we played against India, which was a really disappointing performance regardless of the score line, we played really poorly, but it was better, we just need to work on a lot of the small details to keep improving,” New Zealand captain Dean Couzins said.
It was England who struck first through Northern Ireland born striker Mark Gleghorne on 11 minutes after New Zealand goal keeper Hamish McGregor went to ground.
The English looked to have secured maximum points until a late equaliser from the experienced Phillip Burrows with seven minutes remaining ensured New Zealand would share the spoils in their final pool match.
“I think we struggled a little bit today in comparison to the game against Germany, New Zealand offered a slightly different challenge in terms of out letting and pressing. We found ourselves down a man for quite a few minutes so we were pretty happy in the end with a 1-1 draw despite the fact we lead for most of the match,” England striker Nick Catlin said.
“It was strong battling performance and we move on to the quarter finals and await to see who we play, regardless anyone from the pool will be a tough match,” said Catlin.
The second game on day three was between European powers Belgium and the Netherlands and it look to be the laters day after a three goal first half.
In a frantic opening to the second half Belgium’s 23-year-old star Tom Boon made an instant impact on the game scoring less than one minute in. A second goal to Boon on 39 minutes opened the game up and provided the Red lLons a chance to take it to the more fancied Netherlands.
The Olympic silver medalists held their nerve after a late Belgium goal to win 5-4.
“It was a game of two halves, we played really well in the first and in the second started very dramatically with two goals in two minutes, it was a disaster, I’m glad we won but there is a few points we can take from the second half,” Netherlands captain Klaas Vermeulen said.
“We had a good start to the tournament against Pakistan and we played well against Australia, today’s first half was perfect, 90 percent of possession and a lot of chances, but the second half was really bad and we just have to forget about it and stay focused on the next game,” said Vermeulen.
In the other game on day three it was Germany who came from behind to beat India. The 11th ranked nation impressed taking the lead twice at 1-0 and 2-1 but the Olympic champions had the class to claw back and hold on for 3-2 victory.