Monday, July 30, 2012

Australia hit sixer against S Africa..

The contest between Australia and South Africa looked like another David vs. Goliath encounter, with the Kookaburas ranked at the top of the FIH World Rankings and the Africans the lowest ranked team in this Olympic competition.
It did not take long for Jamie Dwyer to be dangerous, penetrating the circle and arriving alone in front of Erasmus Pieterse in the South African goal, who managed the save but conceded a penalty-corner. The South Africans survived the initial flurries of Australian attacks and play became more balanced for a while. The Kookaburas could not do much of their first two penalty-corners and the next chance was at the other end for Marvin Harper, whose tentative shot nearly surprised the Australian defense.
Australia earned a penalty-stroke in the 16th minute after a pinball sequence in the South African circle, the ball hitting sticks, posts and players. Jamie Dwyer cleanly slotted the ball out of reach of the goal-keeper to open the score. The Australians then had a string of near misses; they were unsuccessful on their next two penalty-corners, Kieran Govers could not beat the goal-keeper one on one after receiving the ball alone far behind the South African defenders and they were denied a penalty-corner goal by a successful South African video-referral.
It was once again Jamie Dwyer who finally unlocked the situation, offering a splendid pass to Matthew Butturini left with an easy tap-in for the second Australian goal. Although the South Africans were clearly pushed back on the heels during most of the period, the score was only 2-0 at half-time and the Australians were certainly unhappy with their many wasted chances.
South Africa played well at the beginning of second period, displaying some strong individual skills and swift combinations, but Australia opened an insurmountable break in a few minutes with a couple of penalty-corner goals, first by Christopher Ciriello then by Jamie Dwyer.
Jamie Dwyer completed his hat-trick with ten minutes to go in the match, scoring another penalty-stroke after been taken down by Erasmus Pieterse in the circle. With this goal, Dwyer moved level with Mark Hager as top Australian all-time goal scorer! South Africa ran out of steam in the final stages of the match and could not deal any more with wave after wave of Kookaburas attacks regularly outnumbering their defense. Glenn Turner added a final goal and Australia comfortably bagged the 3 points of the win.

(Yan Huckendubler)

Korea v NZ in pictures..

Men's hockey: South Korea beat NZ 2-0

 First match of the 2012 Olympic competition promised to be a close contest between two teams following each other in the FIH world rankings (6th for Korea and 7th for New Zealand) and with similar international experience (average of 155 international Caps for Korea and 150 for New Zealand).
     As expected, the match started with an intense battle for possession in midfield, neither team leaving an inch to the other. The Black Sticks tried to circulate the ball around the Koreans, tightly regrouped in defense and only sporadically pushing up with long balls for a high forward. First opportunity for goal was for Simon   Child in the 6th minute on a cross from the right and Korean goalkeeper Lee Myung Ho slightly out of position, but the ball bounced over his stick just when he was volleying it.
      Kyle Pontifex in goal for New Zealand was called into action shortly after when a turn-over in midfield was promptly turned into a goal opportunity by Lee Nam Yong. Although not rich in goal chances, the intense tactical battle was fascinating and the near capacity crowd of the Riverbank Arena watched in awe the display of individual and collective skills, wondering who would be the first to outplay the opponent. The break came after a green card to Nicholas Haig: Kang Moon Kyu played the free hit quickly and found You Hyo Sik for an unstoppable deflection in goal.
      This seemed to take some wind out of the Black Sticks’ sails and the Koreans collectively moved higher on the field, leaving even less space for manoeuver in midfield. They pushed in the final minutes of the period and a hard cross from the left eluded everybody in the circle to find You Hyo Sik left unmarked on the far post for his second goal of the day and a comfortable two-goal lead for Korea going into the half-time break.
     Despite the support of the crowd, the New Zealanders seemed to have lost their initial enthusiasm and the Koreans had the upper hand at the beginning of second period. Kyle Pontifex needed to be sharp to fend off a few Koreans attempts from close range. There always seemed to be an extra Korean attacker coming from nowhere and the Black Sticks had to work hard to avoid conceding additional goals. Both teams had a chance on penalty-corner with ten minutes left to play, but the attempts were handled well by the defenders.
     New Zealand had another flurry of chances with five minutes left on the clock, but Lee Myung Ho somehow managed to dive left and right to protect the Korean goal. He was again well positioned a few minutes later to deflect a penalty-corner shot by Shea Mcaleese, and Korea could calmly weather the final minutes to end up with the win after a solid and impressive performance.

(Yan Huckendubler)

Olympic farce as keys to Wembley are lost..

Police in charge of keeping the Olympics safe have lost the keys to Wembley Stadium.
   Scotland Yard admitted last night that it was to blame for the shocking breach.
Search teams spent days desperately hunting for the keys after they were mislaid during the final preparations for the Games.
    Sources said it would cost up to £40,000 to replace the hi-tech laser keys. The latest fiasco threatened to further damage already fragile confidence in security arrangements for the Games.
   It also provoked a furious behind-the-scenes row between the police, Locog and private security firm G4S over who was responsible.
But late last night, Scotland Yard admitted a team of officers mislaid the ‘internal security keys’ during last minute checks.

Ticket touts disgrace..

Lots of empty rows at the Aquatics Centre in Stratford yesterday, even as Rebecca Adlington swam in her 400m freestyle heat and final

 Prized Olympic tickets entrusted to foreign delegations are being openly sold by touts on the streets of Britain, it emerged last night.
They are cashing in on the huge demand for seats by selling tickets sent overseas by Games organisers.
The revelation came as a row raged over embarrassing scenes of banks of empty seating at many Games venues – including last night’s swimming finals.
   The Yard confirmed that about 20 people had been arrested attempting to sell tickets since the opening ceremony on Friday.
Yesterday spectators who bought tickets for the Olympic Park, because all venues inside were sold out of lower-priced tickets, had the frustration of watching pictures on the big screen of unfilled seats.

Defending champions beat Belgium

By Yan Huckendubler

Netherland vs. Belgium: 3-0 (half-time: 1-0)

Second match of the day was between defending Olympic Champion, The Netherlands, ranked #1 in the world, and the Cinderella of the competition, Belgium, coming in the Olympic Games ranked 16th in the world. The Dutch women were loudly cheered by a huge contingent of fans all clad in orange, while the Belgian women looked tense during the anthems for their first ever match in Olympic competition.

As expected, The Netherlands dominated the early stages of the match without giving the impression of exerting themselves too much, circulating the ball wide of the Belgium defensive block. Maartje Paumen saw her first attempt at penalty-corner deflected on the post by young Aisling D'Hoogue in the Belgium goal, then Margot van Geffen followed up with a powerful shot that flew inches wide of the post. Play was limited to one half of the pitch, but the Dutch players could not beat the Belgium defense regrouped in the circle, and they peppered the outside of the goal when they had a chance to shoot.

They finally opened the score with only two minutes left in the period with a deflection from close range by Kim Lammers, receiving a perfect long ball from Eva de Goede, celebrating in style her 100th International Cap. The modest one-goal lead for The Netherlands at half-time was not reflecting the physiognomy of the game, but there was little doubt on the outcome of the contest.

The Dutch women continued their domination of play in second period, having most of the ball possession, and Kim Lammers scored her second goal of the match with another deflection from close range over the Belgian goalkeeper, this time on a pass from Ellen Hoog running around the Belgian defense on the right of the circle.

With rain suddenly starting to fall on London, pace of play abated a couple notches. The Netherlands scored a third goal on penalty-corner by Caia van Maasakker, a late addition to the Dutch team after the injury to Willemijn Bos, then rolled on to an easy win over a Belgian team which, to their credit, never gave up the fight, even forcing a penalty-corner in the last minute of play.

For more information on NED v BEL, click here.

China vs. Korea: 4-0 (half-time: 1-0)

First match of the midday session was between Asian rivals China (ranked 5th in the world) and Korea (ranked 8th). With rain falling steadily at the beginning of the match, it took some time for the crowd to get into cheering mode and for the match to pick up pace. Korea forced a penalty-corner in the opening minutes, but could not produce much from it.

Both teams were playing with similar styles, disciplined defense and swift counter-attacks, however creating very few clear opportunities for goal. China had a penalty-corner in the 15th minute, but Ma Yibo’s low shot for an option fizzled. They had another opportunity in the 25th minute and this time Ma Yibo slotted her flick high and out of reach of Moon Young Hui in the Korean goal.

With the sun making a timid return, the end of the period was much more animated, with a few hot situations in the Chinese circle, but no other goal was scored before half-time, reached with a meagre one-goal lead for the silver medallists from Beijing, and the impression was that the contest could go either way.

Korea started the second period faster to try and force the equalizer quickly. They swarmed the Chinese circle, had a chance on penalty-corner which was totally unsuccessful, kept pushing and had a better attempt on their next penalty-corner which was well covered by Zhang Yimeng in the Chinese goal. The Koreans were still trailing by the lone goal and seemed to be on the verge of equalizing when Zhao Yudiao made the most of a loose ball in the opposite circle to score the second Chinese goal and establish a more comfortable lead.

The Chinese players suddenly seemed to find their second wind and promptly earned a penalty-stroke. Li Hongxia made no mistake to push the score to 3-0, setting an insurmountable climb back for Korea. The game became rougher and the two teams traded cards, with China down to nine players for a few minutes. In the final minutes, Ma Yibo scored her second penalty-corner of the match (doubling on the first day of competition her goal-tally from Beijing, where she only scored once in 18 penalty-corner attempts) and China grabbed their first win with a comfortable margin (4-0).