|March 9th, 2010|
|30||Pool A||8:30pm||CAN - ARG||2 - 4 (0 - 1)||Final|
The final game of pool play pitted the two arch-rivals from the Americas, usually opposed in Pan American competitions (it will be their first encounter in a World Cup). Canada edged Argentina in dramatic fashion in the last two major competitions (2007 Pan American Games and 2009 Pan American Cup) and Argentina, playing well here in Delhi, were no doubt eager to avenge these two defeats.
The game started with a long observation round before Gabbar SINGH launched into one his trademark run through the Argentinean defense and set up Mark PEARSON and Philip WRIGHT in the circle but the goal was saved by a desperate retreat from a defender. At the other end, Dave CARTER, back in goal for Canada, was called in action in the 12th minute to clean up behind a hot situation in his circle then again soon after to stop Agustin A MAZZILLI arriving alone after stealing a ball from the Canadian midfield.
The two teams obviously knew each other well and the game, although fast and pleasant, stayed confined in midfield, with episodic dashes from both sides. Argentina had a chance on penalty-corner but Dave CARTER saved it well. Canada played short after a green card to Philip WRIGHT, avoided a penalty-corner with a referral to the video-umpire, defended efficiently the next three set pieces but had to concede on the next one to Lucas VILA, slamming the rebound from close range.
The game resume with the same pattern in second period, with some incessant work in midfield from Rob SHORT and Ken PEREIRA. Argentina increased their lead in the 43rd minute by Matias PAREDES, receiving a long ball in front of the goal, pivoting in traffic then forcing the ball over Dave CARTER. Mario ALMADA, hanging inconspicuously behind the Canadian defense, nearly increased the lead when he collected a ball mishandled by a Canadian defender, but he did not take the time to adjust his shot and it went wide.
Canada reacted strongly and were threatening for a while but could not score and Argentina increased their lead again by Mario ALMADA as soon as they were back at full strength after a yellow card to Matias VILA. Canada pulled back a goal in the 60th minute by Scott TUPPER, their first successful penalty-corner of the competition. Shortly after David JAMESON surprised Juan ESPINOSA with an instant reverse shot and, with Canada showing the intensity that they so badly missed during their previous matches, the stage was set for a classical fiery end of match between the two rivals!
It was nevertheless too little too late for Canada. With the win, Argentina jumps over New Zealand to finish fourth in the pool and will play for 7th-8th against India, while Canada, the first team to finish pool play pointless since Cuba in 2002, will face Pakistan to avoid the wooden spoon of the competition.
Match facts (Canada v. Argentina):
> Argentina qualified for the Final 7-8. Their win over Canada made them finish fourth in Pool A, beating New Zealand on goal difference.
> Argentina now play India for 7th place.
> In 1978 and 1994 Argentina also played in the 7th place play-off, losing to England in 1978 to finish 8th and beating Korea on penalty strokes in 1994 to finish 7th.
> Argentina’s best World Cup ranking is 6th in 1986 and 2002. In 2006 Argentina finished 10th.
> New Zealand play South Africa in the Final 9-10 and Canada play Pakistan for 11th place.
> Canada finished the pool standings on zero points. They are the first team since Belgium and Cuba in 2002 to lose all their World Cup pool matches.