Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Australia checks into semis, and Olympics...

WORLD No 1 Australia frolicked in scorching heat to become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the World League in Antwerp, when they edged Ireland 4-1 at the KHC Dragons Stadium.
  And the Aussies also virtually checked into the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, as the top three are assured, while the fourth team will also qualify via double qualifications.
  It was a windy and 32 degree Celsius day, and officially the first day of summer in Belgium, and the Irish wilted under the sun.
  However, it was not before Ireland defended gallantly and Australia could only open scoring in the 22nd minute, when Mat Gohdes beautifully trapped a penalty corner rebound, and hit a cricket shot back into the goalmouth.
  At the half-time interview, both Ireland and Australian coaches Craig Fulton and Graham Reid respectively said their players must be patience in the second half.
   Australia were more patience, and worked themselves up the ladder with three more beautiful goals to deny a fighting Irish their moment in the sun.
   Jamie Dwyer (45th), Simon Orchard (55th) and Blake Govers (55th) wrapped up the match for Australia, while the Irish consolation was scored by Shane O'Donoghue (57th).
  Dwyer, 36 years old, will be playing in his fourth Olympics, after winning gold with Australia in 2004 Athens, and two bronze medals in 2008 Beijing, and 2012 London. He has also played in four World Cups since 2002 in Kuala Lumpur.
  "We have qualified have we,? asked Dwyer who scored the second goal to easy some pressure.
  "It wasn't easy as it was about 36 degrees on the pitch, and credit to Ireland who made it tough for us. Yes, it would be my fourth Olympics. We have achieved the first stage, now to go up higher in this tournament (winning gold)," said the 5' 7" Australian terror.
   In the semi-finals, Australia will meet either Britain or Pakistan, who play in their other quarter-finals.

Its now or never...

INDIA are the only team which arrived in Antwerp having already qualified for the Olympics, by virtue of being the Asian Games champions.
  Their only interest here was to keep their world ranking intact, and also prepare for the World League Finals which they will host at the end of the year.
  However, the World League Finals is just a sparring session among all the top three teams in both the world leagues and is not a qualifier for any tournament.
  That is why coach Paul van Ass has been a smiling figure in Antwerp, with no pressure and lots of time to try our new players and new positions for some players.
  India, Playing in Group A, India could only beat France 3-2, beat Poland 3-0, drew 2-2 with Pakistan, and were whacked 6-2 by Australia.
  With two of their beat drag flickers VR Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh on the crock list, India were impotent in this tournament and hopefully, Malaysia take advantage of their low to qualify for the Olympics after a lapse of 16 years.
  Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Sri Subahan Kamal, here to watch the matches, said: "We have four days to rest and recover before playing India in the most crucial match of the tournament. I have told them to supplement the rest with energy boosting food as well because its now or never for them to realise their Olympic dream."