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.


‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

Updated 15 December 2018
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‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

LONDON: Felipe Massa has acknowledged the possibility of Formula E becoming more popular than its more illustrious rival Formula One, ahead of his debut at the Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia today.
The Brazilian ace swapped the roaring engines of F1 for the blistering battery power of Formula E this season, and told Arab News that the idea was not “impossible.”
“On overtaking, Formula 1, that’s a difficult question to answer. But what can I say, is that it’s not impossible. We just need to wait and see how things go, (whether) it is ‘when’ or ‘if,’ but it’s definitely not impossible,” he said.
“Formula E and electric cars are becoming ever-more present, but it will definitely be the future, even in the short-term future.
“It (the technology) has already arrived in some countries and will in other countries, too, it is the future. I think Formula E has used that mentality, even five years ago to build this (motorsport) category,” he added.
Massa, who raced for 15 seasons in Formula One and won 11 grands prix, was also positive about the potential of Formula E as it continues to expand after its inception in 2011 and inaugural season in 2014.
“It will take a little bit of time, it’s not easy to get things perfect straight away, but look at the past two years and how much the championship is growing.
“When I say growing, it’s not just with the quality of the drivers, but also with manufacturers’ teams and companies, who are really getting behind the sport.
“Look how many companies they are signing on as sponsors, on many different levels, even companies that sell fuel,” he said.
“We are even racing (this weekend) in a country known as an oil country. So, I think this shows how much this championship is growing.”
Massa also agreed with comments made by F1 director Ross Brawn, who recently said that the highest level of motorsport had become too predictable.
“Only certain racers can win in Formula One, but Formula E is unpredictable and a good example (of that) is that the winners in all past seasons have been different drivers,” he told Arab News.
The affable driver said he is relishing the new challenge that Formula E will pose to his skills and abilities, adding that with the exception of certain parts of the Monaco and Mexico circuits, each track will be new to him.
“I like a challenge, there is a lot to learn and a lot to test myself with and learning the car, working with the team,” he said.
“Even though I’m experienced in motorsport, with my 16 years in Formula One, this is a new test and I will have to start from zero.”
Meanwhile, defending Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne said hearing the words “world champion” after his name was “still cool.”
When asked about the challenge from teammate Andre Lotterer on the other side of the Techeetah garage, the Frenchman was full of praise for the German driver.
“He is absolutely one of the most talented drivers, and I expect him to be on the same level as I am and, for sure, it’s going to be a nice competition between us.
“It will be good for the team, as that will push everybody, and that is what we want as a team.”
The former F1 driver was complimentary about Formula E’s new “attack mode,” but voiced concerns about the danger the system posed to drivers on corners on the challenging Ad Diriyah circuit this weekend.