01 December 2009

2009 ABN-AMRO Hockey Champions Trophy - Men - Melbourne Match 4 - Germany v Korea

Firstly congratulations to Mattias Witthaus. This game marks his 300th game for Germany.

Germany struggle in the beginning. Their regular midfielder Ben Wess is unavailable due to disciplinary action from the European Championships and they appear to be missing him.
Korea's first goal comes from a defensive error in the circle. Hyo Sik You attacked along the baseline from the right and attempts to pass it to Soo Kyuk Yang who is waiting in front of the goal but before it reaches him it deflects off a German stick and into the goal. 1 - nil Korea.
Consecutive penalty corners fail to add to the score for Korea however it does seem to add some spark to the German side and moments later they earn a penalty corner of their own. Only three outstanding saves during the corner by Myung Ho Lee, the Korean keeper maintains the scoreline. First he stops a drag flick with his glove on his right, on the ground he manages to pivot to make a second save on the left the stretches out to deflect the third over the back line with his stick.
It finally (twenty five minutes later) takes a piece of absolute brilliance from Mattias Witthaus to beat the Korean keeper who collects a pass on the back line on the left, draws the keeper out and he flicks it into the top of the goal. 1 All.
Korea get off to a bad start in the second half. Three minutes in Seung Il Lee deliberately uses the back of his stick in the 25 because of this he is shown a yellow card and sent off for five minutes, Germany are then awarded a penalty corner. The corner sees Montag flick it to the top right of the net which is impossible to stop. 2 - 1 Germany.
The next 13 minutes are all Germany. Korea's offense and defense are under constant pressure as the Germans look for a turnover but as the clock ticks over into the 52nd minute Korea suddenly step it up a gear and find themselves in the German circle and after some scrambling play Jong Ho Seo slams into the backboard. 2 - All
This basically signaled the opening of the floodgates. The German's just couldn't match the speed of the Korean attack.
In the 57th minute a penalty corner is awarded after Montag bumps Nam Lee off the ball in his own circle. A German player breaks before the push out is taken and under the experimental rules he has to retreat to the halfway line, leaving the Germans with only four defenders. Play resumes and Hyun Nam cracks in the conversion. 3 - 2 Korea
In the last five minutes the German keeper Jessalut illegally brings down Korean striker Young Jin Kim in the circle and after reviewing the video a penalty stroke was awarded. Nam Lee slots past the keeper low and to the left. 4 - 2 Korea
Then to rub salt into the wound one minute later Korea bring the ball in from a long corner. It is run along the base line and a shot is offered. Jessalut clears the ball out into the middle of the field but straight to a blue shirt. The ball is fired back into the circle where a deflection sees it into the goal. 5 - 2 Korea.

I said in a previous post that Korea always manage an upset each tournament and here it is again. Their speed and fitness is what helped them overcome the solid German defense at the end. The how can you not mention Myung Ho Lee the Korean Keeper. The sequence of 3 consecutive saves on one penalty corner was outstanding and for that I am giving him my man of the match.

2009 ABN-AMRO Hockey Champions Trophy - Men - Melbourne Match 3 - Netherland v Spain

This is world ranked teams 3 (The Netherlands) versus 4 (Spain). In this match Dutch legend Taeke Taekema  has the opportunity to become the Champions Trophy highest ever goal scorer. He currently shares this with Sohail Abbas from Pakistan on 40. It is important to note that all of these goals for both players come from penalty corners or penalty strokes.

It only 13 minutes before Taeke claimed the record. Weusthof fed  the ball in the circle amongst 3 Spanish defenders. He successfully played the ball into the feet of a defender and was awarded the penalty corner. Taeke slings the ball low and to the left of the keeper and despite getting a touch on it the ball cracks into the backboard. 1 - Nil The Netherlands.
Then came the most surprising thing I have ever seen from all the times I have watched the Dutch play. They scored a field goal. Taeke from his own 25 runs the ball forward and then slams to his far left to the circle where he finds Hofman waiting. Hofman runs the ball straight, crosses the ball with the reverse of his stick across the face of the goal to his captain de Nooijer who is waiting completely unmarked and the ball is deflected into the goal. 2 - Nil The Netherlands
The game reverts to the back and forth that marked the first part of the game and it takes Spain until the last five minutes of the half to really look dangerous with captain Pol Amat and striker Ramon Alegre unlucky to score.
Over the first twenty five minutes of the next half Spain and The Netherlands trade penalty corners. On the fourth (Netherland's second), awarded from a Spanish raised ball, Taeke flicks the ball past the left glove of the keeper into the back of the net. 3 - Nil The Netherlands.
With eleven minutes to go Pol Amat scores what could possibly be goal of the tournament. Tabau restarts from a penalty at halfway. After a short run he passes it through to Fabregas on the left hand side of the circle and he heads toward the baseline. A quick flick of the ball back to the top of the circle where Amat is waiting, he charges straight still on the left hand side of the goal. As he running out of room he reverse sticks the ball over the head of the keeper and under cross bar. It was quite stunning to watch. 3 - 1 The Netherlands.
One minute later Spain have worked the ball up the right of the field where they earn a free hit outside the circle. David Alegre quickly plays the ball and forces Dutch defender Jolie to play ball without having withdrawn 5 yards and a penalty corner is awarded. For the goal the Spaniards use their second battery option and Xavier Ribas drag flicks the ball just inside the right post. 3 - 1 The Netherlands.
Sadly that was all she wrote for Spain. Netherlands stepped up their defense and almost scored again through de Nooijer.

In terms of games so far this was the least exciting to watch. Both teams played the usual European style with long passes and a lot of passing around the back (which isn't a bad thing really). There were moments of brilliance but not enough to really make it an exciting match.
I'm making an early call of Australia and England or Germany in the final with the Kookaburras to take the title.

2009 ABN-AMRO Hockey Champions Trophy - Men - Melbourne Match 2 - Australia v Korea

Still day one. I hope to completely catch up today.

Coming into this match Australia (Ranked #2) are the defending champions after defeating Spain 4 - 1 in The Netherlands last year and were looking to make their intentions clear to the rest of the competitors. Korea (Ranked #5) have been the team to be careful of in any tournament, they always manage an upset win to keep things interesting. Both teams have a number of new faces for the Champions Trophy and it was set to be interesting match.

The first 17 minutes saw both teams testing each other out with a number of missed opportunities. For Australia Glenn Turner, Grant Schubert and Desi Abbott, who looks like he has dropped about 15 kilos since the last time I saw him were looking really dangerous. For Korea Lee Seung Il and Yoon were the most impressive.
In the 18th minute the Kookaburras move the ball from their 16 after up the right hand side of the field with some quick straight passing through Knowles, then Ockenden to Dwyer who runs the ball to the corner. Dwyer half heartedly passes the ball back to the edge of the circle to Ockenden, Dwyer gets the ball back at the base line five yards from the goal. He then gets an amazing touch from under the Korean defender and slips it to Abbott who's first shot is into the pads of the keeper but it falls back to Abbott and he calmly puts it over the keeper into the net.
The chance is a Dwyer classic from the right hand side baseline. He has a cracking reverse stick shot which the Korean keeper somehow reads and gloves it back to the turf in front of Dwyer which he then fires across the face of the goal and Schubert cannot get a touch and it sails to the other side of the field.
Soon after this in the 18th minute in Orchard and Abbott combine to force a penalty in their attacking right corner. Orchard takes the self pass option and two passes later Abbott has the ball on the baseline, he crosses the ball to the seven and Hammond slaps it into the backboard.
The rest of the half sees Korea stepping it up but The Kookaburra's defense is up to the task with new comers  Matt Swann and Graeme Begbie leading the way.
In the second half Korea came out strong and in the 37th minute they find their striker Kim at the top of the circle who has a strong reverse stick shot and it took an amazing save by Bazeley to keep it out. In the return play Australia move up the right, drop it back past half way and Livermore puts it straight to Dwyer on the 25. Dwyer 1-2 passes it with Abbott on the base line and Dwyer fires it through traffic into the right post.
There was a lot of back and forth for twenty minutes until the next highlight. Ockenden takes the ball from a Korean attacker then runs the ball from 25 to 25 and slaps the ball to Turner who is outside the circle in the left hand corner and he forces Australia's first penalty corner. Australia use the second battery with a a powerful flick from Butterini and the diving to the right glove save from the Korean keeper Lee is pure instinct.
From the resulting long corner Australia transfer the ball back and around and attack from the opposite corner. Kavanagh cross the ball to Eddie Ockenden puts the ball away to wrap it up for the Australian's.

As fast as the past game was this one stepped it up a notch. The new rules really suit the style of play for both teams as they prefer the running the ball with quick passes. For Australia the best thing to take from this was that their young players really stepped up, Swann, Begbie, Abbott, Ockenden and Butterini played fantastic hockey. Korea really put the pressure on and had six shots on goal and it took two fantastic saves from Bazeley to keep them out.

I'm really looking forward to the rest of the tournament.

2009 ABN-AMRO Hockey Champions Trophy - Men - Melbourne Match 1

Well the first two rounds have been played and in my humble opinion the quality of hockey has been incredibly high. 

Round One
England v Germany
What I didn't know leading into this match is that match is a replay of the European Championships and that England defeated Germany 5 - 2. The other interesting fact is that England haven't been in the Champions Trophy since 2001.
The first thing to note is which the speed of the game has changed. The new play on free hit rule has changed things for the better. It was brought in to punish deliberate penalties that slow the play down, which doesn't sit well with the German style of play. The second is that the England team are really benefiting from the investment by their government in preparations for the next Olympics.

The first goal occurred in the 10th minute. Germany had a sideline shot on their right had side roughly at the 25yard line. Wess runs the ball across field and then fires the ball into the top of the circle, Deecke misses the trap but the ball bobbles over the stick of the English defender and it moves two metres left of the goal. Mencke manges a reverse stick shot past the keeper and it hits the far side of the goal. 1-nil to Germany.

In the 12th minute England force a penalty corner by playing the ball onto the foot of a German defender after a beautiful give and go run into the circle by Middleton, Kirkham and Brogdon. On the penalty corner the trapper Wilson, fails to deliver the ball to the shooter Tindall. Wilson holds onto the ball and passes it right to Jackson who reverse sticks it the right post where Tindall deflects it into the goal. 1 - 1.

In the early stages of the second half the Germans request to use the new video review that is being trialled during the tournament. A Penalty Stroke was awarded against the Germans and after the review it was overturned and the video umpire gave the Germans the 16 hit.

The 43rd minute saw Germany's first Penalty Corner conversion. They opted for play number one with a drag flick by Montag into the middle right of the net. 2 - 1 Germany.

In the 61st minute England builds up the play down the left hand side of the field and Jackson runs along the 25 and passes the ball into the circle at the left post to Middleton who's initial shot is stopped by the keeper. The ball rebounds back to Middleton who then flicks the ball back at the goal and the ball hits the body of the German defender Woesch and the Penalty Stroke is awarded and Middleton camly fires it passed the keeper low and to the left. 2 - 2

Over the next three minutes England successfully defend two consecutive penalty corners from the Germans however in the 66th minute a third is awarded to Germany after increasing pressure down the right hand side of the  field. Again they set up for option one however a variation is made. The main striker dummies a flick at the goal and slides the ball right to Maximillian Muller who from point blank range puts the ball over the keeper's shoulder.
The remaining two minutes see England attempt some desperate passing and play but it results in turnovers and Germany runs the clock down.

The game was a great start to the tournament. England played a fast flowing game and Germany played their traditional defensive style and relied on their penalty corners for their goals. England will be the suprise package of this tournament however they now need to beat Spain to stay alive.
Here are the Goals

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