(Photo: © FIH / Vino John)

The men’s hockey team Germany has completed the line-up for the Beijing Olympic Games by winning the final WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier in Japan. The World Champion produced another scintillating performance to defeat host nation Japan 4-0, in front of a capacity crowd at the event in Kakamigahara, Japan.

A brilliant open play goal from Florian KELLER and penalty corner efforts from Christopher ZELLER (2) and Sebastian DRAGUHN were enough to guarantee their participation at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The match started at an incredible pace, far quicker than anything seen in the previous matches at this tournament. Japan firmly believed that they had a chance of defeating the world champions, but needed to do something that no other team had done during this tournament against Germany- score a goal. In the 12th minute, Japan had possibly the best chance that any team has had against Germany this week, when Hiroki SAKAMOTO deflected a shot high over the bar from close range. That miss was to prove costly for Japan. Midway through the half, Florian KELLER spectacularly deflected into the goal from a cross by Mattias WITTHAUS to make the score 1-0, causing the cheering Japanese supporters to fall silent. Japan continued to press high, and this nearly resulted in a second goal for Germany. Christopher ZELLER launched a stunning 50 meter aerial pass to Tobias HAUKE, who in turn passed to Oliver KORN to miss the chance. 

Germany dominated the latter stages of the first half, and continued to do the same in the second period. Japan worked hard to defend, but eventually Germany got the vital goals that they needed. Christopher ZELLER secured his place at the top of the goal scoring charts with a well-worked corner routine, before effectively sealing their qualification with another penalty corner midway through the half. With three minutes left to play, Germany equaled the number of goals that they had scored against Japan in Match 12, with Sebastian DRAGUHN’s drag-flick sailing into the top corner of the net to make it 4-0. In the final minute of the game, Japan won a penalty corner of their own, but Takahiko YAMABORI’s flick hit the inside of the right post before bouncing away to safety. The Germany players celebrated their qualification at the end of the game, in a tournament that saw them concede not a single goal.

With Germany as 12th qualifier for the men’s hockey tournament of the 2008 Olympic Games, all participants for this event are known now. China, Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, Canada, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and Germany will compete in Beijing in August for the Olympic Gold Medal.