(Photo: © FIH / Vino John)

Japan have reached the final of the Olympic Qualifying tournament thanks to a 3-3 draw with Malaysia, setting up a match against world number 1 team Germany on Sunday. A goal from Kenichi KATAYAMA two minutes from time was enough to end the Olympic dreams of Malaysia. Earlier in the day, Germany defeated Poland 5-0. In the final match of the day, Italy were beaten 4-0 by Switzerland, with Reto SPORRI scoring a hat trick.
Details of the matches can be found below.

Match 13: Poland v Germany – 0-5
Germany cruised to victory in the opening fixture of Day 5, winning 5-0 against Poland. With the result not having any effect on the matches that these two teams would be involved in tomorrow, the fixture had the feeling of a training game. This did not make any difference to the outcome of the match, with Germany proving themselves to be much the superior side.
Germany captain Timo WESS - who has been exceptional all tournament – put his side into the lead with an intricate penalty corner routine in the 11th minute. An Oliver KORN field goal put Germany into a 2-0 lead, before Philip WITTE set up Christopher ZELLER for a tap in just before half time. Germany could have massively increased the score-line in the second half, but Poland goalkeeper Arkadiusz MATUSZAK was in terrific form to keep the score respectable. However, with seven minutes left to play Moritz FUERSTE made it 4-0 when he fired into the bottom corner with his reverse stick from the top of the circle. Matthias WITTHAUS completed the scoring in the 67th minute with an expertly taken field goal. Incredibly, Germany have now played five games and are yet to concede a goal at this tournament.

Match 14: Japan v Malaysia – 3-3
A strike from Kenichi KATAYAMA two minutes from time gave Japan the point that they needed to reach the final of the Olympic Qualifier in Kakamigahara.
The first half was a wonderful spectacle of attacking hockey, with both teams knowing that they their Olympic dreams would be over if they did not get the required result. Malaysia scored first, when Boon Huat CHUA deflected a penalty corner high into the net, only for Japan to equalise through an Akira ITO field goal. Jiwa MOHAN re-established the lead for Malaysia with a penalty stroke before a goalmouth scramble was finished off by K. S. MAKBUL SINGH to gave Malaysia a 3-1 lead. Japan – boosted by a large and passionate home crowd – pulled a goal back in the final minute of the half, with Tomonori ONO deflecting a ball from the left into the net.   
Despite there being five goals in the opening period, the match became a tight and tense contest in the second half. Then, with four minutes left to play, Kenichi KATAYAMA won a penalty corner for Japan, but Kumar SUBRAMANIAM pulled off a terrific save from the drag flick of Takahiko YAMABORI when a goal looked to be a certainty. Japan won another penalty corner with two minutes left to play, and it was this set play that sparked the most controversial moment of the tournament. Japan made a mess of the corner, but eventually the ball found its way back into the danger area, and Kenichi KATAYAMA forced the ball over the line. Umpires Murray Grime and Hamish JAMSON conferred, and the goal was given, much to the disappointment of the Malaysia players who felt that there had been an infringement. The goal proved to be the killer blow, and the result gives Japan the chance to play Germany in tomorrow’s final.  

Match 15: Switzerland v Italy – 4-0
Switzerland defeated Italy 4-0 thanks to a hat trick from Reto SPORRI in the final match of Day 5. However, Italy will have the chance to get revenge within 24 hours, with the two sides meeting in the 5th / 6th place play-off tomorrow morning.
Switzerland were the better team throughout the match, and deservedly took the lead through a Reto SPORRI field goal in the 25th minute. SPORRI then made it two for both himself and his country in the 33rd minute, deflecting in from a narrow angle. Ulrich BERGMANN has had a wonderful tournament for Switzerland, and it was he who created goal number three for his team in the 44th minute. The gifted midfielder burst through on goal, drawing the keeper out of his goal before slipping the ball to Thomas GAHWILER who could not miss. Reto SPORRI completed his hat trick in the 69th minute with a penalty corner to seal a convincing win, giving Switzerland the psychological advantage over Italy ahead of their match tomorrow.

For more information, photos and official match sheets, please visit the FIH Olympic Qualifier Japan microsite.

Fixtures – Sunday 13 April 2008
Match 16 – 09:00 – Switzerland (5th) v Italy (6th)
Match 17 – 11:30 – Malaysia (3rd) v Poland (4th)
Match 18 – 14:00 – Germany (1st) v Japan (2nd) – Winner secures place at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

GOALS

Poland v Germany
GER – Timo WESS PC 11m
GER – Oliver KORN FG 29m
GER – Christopher ZELLER FG 35m
GER – Moritz FUERSTE FG 64m
GER – Matthias WITTHAUS FG 67m

Japan v Malaysia
MAS – Boon Huat CHUA PC 10m
JPN – Akira ITO FG 21m
MAS – Jiwa MOHAN PS 28m
MAS – K. S. MAKBUL SINGH FG 33m
JPN – Tomonori ONO FG 35m
JPN – Kenichi KATAYAMA PC 69m

Switzerland v Italy
SUI – Reto SPORRI FG 25m
SUI – Reto SPORRI FG 33m
SUI – Thomas GAHWILER FG 44m
SUI – Reto SPORRI PC 69m