Dutch bid to halt record Australian title in Champions Trophy hockey

Updated 08 December 2012
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Dutch bid to halt record Australian title in Champions Trophy hockey

MELBOURNE: An in-form Netherlands stand in the way of Australia winning a record fifth straight Champions Trophy after convincing semifinal victories in Melbourne yesterday.
Netherlands and Australians progressed to Sunday’s final with relative ease, with the Dutch downing Pakistan 5-2 and Australia proving too good for India 3-0.
If Australia’s Kookaburras can win the final they will become the first team to win the Trophy title for five straight years, however midfielder Kieran Govers said they would remain focused just on Sunday’s match.
“It’s the fifth straight time we have made the final but we aren’t looking to claim five titles, we are looking to play a good game tomorrow,” Govers said.
Australia had plenty of early chances via several penalty corner attempts, with their first goal coming off a rebound that was swooped on by five-time world player of the year Jamie Dwyer.
The Kookaburras continued to be relentless, with the ball constantly being forced back into India’s circle, putting their defense to work.
Despite India’s best efforts the pressure eventually broke them, with Dwyer receiving a penalty stroke for a heavy tackle, making no mistake with the conversion for his second goal.
The trend continued after half time, with Jacob Whetton involved in Australia’s third goal after working the ball into the circle, with Govers finishing off to put the result beyond doubt.
India’s Yuvraj Walmiki said Australia were too good on the day.
“We were well prepared but as everyone knows Australia is a very tough team. We played very good in patches but some silly mistakes caused some problems,” Walmiki said.
“We hope to clinch the bronze tomorrow because the last time we won it was in 1982 so we want to repeat the history of 30 years so hopefully we play well.” Netherlands gave themselves a chance to win their first Champions Trophy since 2006 after outclassing Pakistan.
Striker Billy Bakker said the Dutch were pleased with their progress throughout the tournament.
“We have a good team and before we came to Melbourne we had a goal to play in the final, minimum, and hopefully to take the gold back to the Netherlands,” Bakker said.
Pakistan’s Shakeel Abbasi said the players were disappointed, however he was confident his team could respond.
“We are still in the medal race so we will try our best. Today Holland played well but in the start we had a few chances,” Abbasi said.
The Dutch began in terrific form, with Pakistan looking shell-shocked.
It wasn’t long until the Dutch confirmed their dominance with Bakker scoring the first of his two goals only two minutes into the match.
Netherlands continued to attack with Severiano van Ass making it 2-0 at the 20 minute mark.
Pakistan were given a gift minutes later when an own goal was scored off the stick of Netherlands defender Bob de Voogd.
However a second Bakker goal gave them the momentum before half time with a commanding 3-1 lead.
The Dutch powered on in the second half with two more goals before Abbasi scored a late consolation goal.
India and Pakistan will play off for the bronze medal today. Pakistan have not won a Champions Trophy medal since 2004, while India have won bronze, back in 1982.
In Saturday’s qualification matches, Belgium dominated England 4-0 for their first ever Champions Trophy win, while Germany held off a determined New Zealand to win 6-4.
Germany’s Moritz Fuerste was also named the FIH World Player of the Year for the first time.


Saudi Arabia out to make Kingdom 'proud' and repay faith of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 23 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia out to make Kingdom 'proud' and repay faith of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

  • Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp
  • SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006

RIYADH: The president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) acknowledges there will be added scrutiny on the Green Falcons when they kick off this summer’s World Cup against hosts Russia in the opening game, but is confident the players can overcome any first-night nerves and rise to the challenge.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp as they start to fine-tune preparations ahead of the first game on June 14. The Argentine coach has taken 28 players with him, but must whittle the squad down to 23 by June 4.
SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006, sanctioning five training camps and arranging nine friendlies, several against high-profile opposition. Their final three games are against sides with top 20 FIFA’s rankings, a deliberate strategy to ensure they are not undercooked heading into Group A games against Russia, Uruguay and Egypt.
“We are at a critical stage of our preparations, one that needs concentration and discipline, especially as we face three strong teams in Italy, Peru and Germany,” said president Adel Ezzat in a video on the federation’s Twitter account. “Our objective is to be on form by June 14 when the eyes of the world will be on us in the opening match. We have a bright history in the World Cup and Asian Cup, so it’s our duty to live up to that reputation. I would like to address all Saudi fans, whether they will be watching the games on TV or from the stadiums in Russia: They should pray for the players. The players are our brothers and sons, and we should all love our Saudi national team. I urge the fans and the media to be united around the national team.”
Ezzat said the players have been energised and inspired by a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before they left for Switzerland. The crown prince demonstrated his commitment to the game in the Kingdom by this week vowing to cover all external debts totalling SR1.277 billion (around $340 million) owed by Saudi Pro League clubs.
“We are optimistic after the historic meeting between the players, staff and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Ezzat. “The meeting set the tone for the final stage of preparations, and the players are up for the challenge of meeting His Highness’ expectations.
“We are grateful for Prince Mohammed for his constant support and generosity toward Saudi football, be it the national team, clubs or the league. It’s our duty to repay the faith of our leaders. This is something that drives us forward and I’m fully confident in the players’ ability to do us proud in Russia.”