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.


Flying the flag for the Green Falcons in Russia

Saudi football fans, from left, Talal Obaid, Satam Sardid, Sultan Hawsawi and Ahmed Barnawi, in Moscow to support the Saudi national team. (AN photo)
Updated 19 June 2018
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Flying the flag for the Green Falcons in Russia

  • A group of motorcyclists is following the Saudi football team for their World Cup matches in 3 cities
  • Behind the bikers are Frankfurt, Brest, Moscow and Voronezh. They are staying now in Rostov-on-Don, where the Green Falcons will play their second match against Uruguay at Rostov Arena.

MOSCOW: To travel to Russia by motorcycle from Saudi Arabia: Risky and arduous? Well, to most, yes, but four brave men from the cities of Makkah and Madinah have just about done that, flying their motorbikes from Jeddah to Germany and driving to Russia from there.

They came up with the idea to support the Green Falcons — Saudi Arabia’s national football team — on their way to the 2018 FIFA World Cup by arranging an extraordinary motor rally from Jeddah to Russia. 

Their route follows the team to their group stage matches in three cities: From last Thursday’s opening in Moscow, to Wednesday’s game in Rostov-on-Don, and then to their third game in Volgograd next Monday.

To Ahmed Barnawi, Satam Sardidi and Sultan Hawsawi from Makkah and Talal Obaid from Madinah, their trip seemed quite adventurous. They did not know exactly what to expect. Nonetheless, they decided to go for it.

For their initiative, they got extraordinary support from Saudi Airlines and Cargo. “Saudia made a big effort to ship our bikes from Jeddah to Frankfurt and helped with the tickets,” said Barnawi, in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

After receiving that encouraging support, the four proceeded with planning the hotels and details of the route.

They started their ride from Frankfurt, heading to Russia through Poland and Belarus. They were impressed by the hospitality of the Belarusian people, who did not speak English but were helpful with “filling the customs forms,” Barnawi said. “They were wonderful.”

Entering Russia, the four were having some language barrier issues as well. But Russians used Google Translate to communicate. 

Now the four have adopted this practice. Since then, when they need anything from the Russians not speaking English, they use Google Translate and it works perfectly.

They knew “a little bit” about Russia before going, Barnawi said, but when they came to Russia “it was mad, really.”

Before going to Russia they were concerned about how Russians would receive them, if there would be racism and what their attitudes would be. But their worries were groundless. The motorcyclists said people are so friendly, they wave and give them a thumbs-up on the road.

At petrol stations, people are shocked to see them on their motorcycles, with the Saudi flags attached. They approach them in disbelief and ask about their trip. 

The four have been absolutely impressed by the country’s roads and highways. They have found that the weather in Russia is not as cold as it is believed, although it is not hot.

Entering Moscow they got “surprised by the huge buildings, wide streets.” 

Upon their arrival, they visited the Saudi Embassy in Russia and met Saudi Ambassador Raed bin Khaled Qarmali, who received them with a warm welcome. They were served tea and coffee in the reception hall and asked to share their stories and impressions.

For the first game between Russia and Saudi Arabia, they tried to enter the area of the stadium on their motorbikes, but it was not allowed by the authorities.

“We understand that maybe it was because of security issues,” said Barnawi. “We did not go to the stadium. We went to a coffee shop to watch the game on a TV.”

“The first game we did not play,” said Barnawi, giving his take on the first match between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which the Green Falcons lost 5-0.

“It was a big issue for the supporters. But we never give up, you know. We close this subject, we look forward to the next game and we are going to play it better than before. And I hope that our team will do a better job, and we will win or break even,” Barnawi continued.

Because of all the time spent on the road, the Fantastic Four do not have much of a chance to follow other countries’ games. They succeeded in watching some while mapping out the next day’s route.

Nevertheless, the four bikers are enjoying the atmosphere of the World Cup and the football euphoria that surrounds it, saying that the whole event “is just amazing, it is awesome.” 

Behind them are Frankfurt, Brest, Moscow and Voronezh. They are staying now in Rostov-on-Don, where the Green Falcons will play their second match against Uruguay at Rostov Arena. After that, they will go to Volgograd, where the team will play Egypt. They do not plan now for what will come next, hoping only for the best for the Saudi team.

Decoder

Russian phrases for Saudi visitors

While Russians use Google Translate to communicate, here are some phrases that may come in handy for those visiting the country during the FIFA World Cup. I’m from Saudi Arabia. Ya is Saudovskoy Aravii. How do I reach the stadium? Kak proyti k stadionu? What’s the score? Kakoy schet? I’m rooting/cheering for the team of Saudi Arabia! Ja boleju za komandu Saudovskoy Aravii! Congratulations! Pozdravlyau!