In a first day that was marked by mostly heavy rain, New Zealand, Japan and Argentina went away with three points each after defeating India, Belgium and England respectively.
Proceedings got underway with New Zealand taking on India, both teams' newly appointed coaches eager to put on a good show in their first appearance in a major tournament. India played markedly improved compared to last year's showings at the World Cup and Asian Games but could not avoid the Kiwis pulling away late in the game with goals from master dragflicker Hayden Shaw and David Kosoof.
In the second match, hosts Belgium met Japan in the clash of the tournament's two lowest ranked teams. Charles Vandeweghe provided initial joy to the sizeable crowd of fans who had come to support their team despite the less than inviting weather with an early goal, but it was shortlived as Japan immediately responded with an equalizer by Ryuji Furusato. The hosts kept the rather physical match open for a long time but eventually could not avoid another goal for Japan as Takahiko Yamabori converted a penalty corner.
Match number three, the clash of tournament favorites England and Argentina, ended the day on a high note with some very fast-paced and exciting hockey and England almost catching up with Argentina after seeing the South Americans pull away to 4-1.
After an early lead by a Richard Alexander goal, England saw the match slip away when ever green striker Jorge Lombi sunk two goals to give his team the lead, and Lucas Rey and Rodri Vila piled on two more for a three goal advantage. An unnecessary foul from the Argentine defense gave England a penalty stroke however, an opportunity which Simon Mantell used wisely. Ben Hawes then converted a penalty corner to get the English within striking distance again, but Argentina clung to their three points desperately but successfully.
This result puts Argentina in a good position early in this tournament, with England considered the tournament favorite after their excellent showing in last year's World Cup that earned them a fifth place in the prestigious event. India should be pleased with their good performance despite the unlucky defeat, and while hosts Belgium had to give in to Japan, they have certainly made a credible promise to upset the plans of some other competitors in his tournament.
Action resumes on day two here in Boom when New Zealand take on Japan and Belgium have to face Argentina. The encounter between England and India wraps up the day.
For more from the BDO Champions Challenge in Boom, visit the WorldHockey tournament site.
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