Men’s Champions Challenge II – Day 1: Malaysia, France, Poland and Ireland were all winners on Day 1 of the first Men’s Champions Challenge II tournament, being held in the Dublin, the capital city of Ireland.
The day’s action began in Pool B, where Malaysia and Austria played out a cracking match to get the tournament off to a thrilling start. Malaysia were the side that came out on top with a 3-2 win, but were pushed all the way by their European opponents. Two second half penalty corner strikes from Muhammad Amin RAHIM turned out to be enough to settle to contest, but a 60th minute penalty corner from Michael KÖRPER to pull his team to within one goal ensured an exciting conclusion to the match. This contest was followed by a fiery encounter between France and Russia, which saw no less than ten disciplinary cards shown, including six Yellow Cards. France were the team that came out on top 5-3, a score-line which was good enough to put them top of Pool B at the end of Day 1. Four different players registered goals for France, with Sebastian JEAN-JEAN, Nicolas MARTIN BRISAC, Frederic SOYEZ and Arnaud BECUWE (2) all hitting the target.
The biggest shock of the day came when Poland upset the form book to defeat Japan, a team ranked six places higher than them in the ABN AMRO World Rankings. Thomasz Gorny proved to be the hero of his team with a double strike, including netting a brilliant winning goal with just two minutes of the match remaining. Poland had lead the match on two occasions but goals from Katsuyoshi NAGASAWA and Kenji KITAZATO had pulled Japan level on both occasions before Gorny’s dramatic winner. The final match of the day saw host nation Ireland attract a large crowd for their fixture against Chile, and they were not to be disappointed as the host nation cruised to an easy 3-0 victory over their opponents. John JERMYN scored all three goals for Ireland as the team produced a solid performance to mark themselves as one of the favourites for the tournament.
Full reports of the matches and scoring information can be found below.
The second round of matches will take place on Tuesday, with the action beginning at 13.15 GMT. In the first match of the day, Austria will aim to recover from Monday’s disappointment by securing victory over a Russia side also looking for its first win. This is followed at 15.30 by the big Pool B clash between France and Malaysia. Victory for either side would all but guarantee their place in the tournament Semi Finals (1-4 Play-Offs). Poland and Chile face each other in Pool A at 17.45, before another large crowd fills the stadium in the hope of watching host nation Ireland get a good result against Japan at 20:00.
You can find Pool Tables and Official Match Reports on the Men’s Champions Challenge II page of this website. To visit this page, click here.
Match 1: Malaysia 3 defeated Austria 2
Malaysia and Austria played out a hugely entertaining contest to ensure that the Men’s Champions Challenge II tournament got off to the best possible start, with Malaysia emerging as deserving winners.
Malaysia came out of the blocks the quickest, and were rewarded with an early goal when an open play strike from Kevinder Singh MAKBUL SINGH found the target with less than four minutes of the match played. It was the perfect start for Malaysia, who went in search of more goals but instead found themselves in the umpire’s notebook. Nabil Fiqri MOHAMAD NOR and Baljit Singh CHARUN SINGH were given Green Cards in the eighth and 17th minutes respectively. Austria were also playing some great hockey, despite being without the experience of 36-year-old Robert BUCHTA, who will miss the entire tournament with a broken collar bone. Austria did not net in the first half, but drew level eight minutes into the second period when Michael KÖRPER sent a powerful penalty corner effort into the goal to make the score 1-1. However, Malaysia hit back with two penalty corner strikes from Muhammad Amin RAHIM in the 46th and 49th minute to establish a 3-1 lead. Despite the dominant position, it was the Malaysians who seemed to lose their cool, and created huge problems for themselves when Baljit Singh CHARUN SINGH and Jivan MOHAN were given Yellow Cards within minutes of each other. Austria took full advantage of the situation and pulled a goal back when KÖRPER fired in another penalty corner in the 60th minute. The goal set up a dramatic final ten minutes, but Malaysia eventually regained control and held on for a victory which will give them confidence ahead of Tuesday’s match against France.
Match 2: France 5 defeated Russia 3
France grabbed all three points to take their place at the top of Pool B on goal difference thanks to a 5-3 victory over Russia.
The match was a fiery encounter between the two sides, with no less than six Yellow Cards and four Green Cards being dished out by the umpires. The first of the Green Cards was given to France’s Frederic VERRIER in the 11th minute, but three minutes later his team had taken a lead through Sebastian JEAN-JEAN who struck a field goal. It did not take long for France to move into a 2-0 lead, when Nicolas MARTIN BRISAC added a penalty corner in the 17th minute, but Russia pulled a goal back thanks to Alexey SERGEEV who scored from a penalty corner. Russia’s Dmitry VOLKOV and Arnaud BECUWE of France were Green Carded just before half time for separate offences, but Russia levelled the scores just after the break when Alexey MAYOROV hit the target from open play. France did not let the lead last long though, and established a 3-2 lead when Frederic SOYEZ slammed home a penalty corner in the 40th minute. Russia captain Alexandre PLATONOV was the first player to be Yellow Carded in the 45th minute, but he was quickly followed to the “sin bin” by France’s Valentin MIGNEAU as the pressure started to build between the two sides. France made the score 4-2 with 14 minutes to play thanks to a penalty corner from Arnaud BECUWE, but were without Frederic SOYEZ moments later when he received a Yellow Card. Sadly for Russia their player advantage was wiped out when Dmitry VOLKOV was also shown a Yellow Card. Russia worked hard to get back into the game but again their chances were hit in the 65th minute when Alexander CHERENKOV became the third Russian player to receive a Yellow Card in the match. Despite this, Russia did make the score 4-3 thanks to a penalty stroke from Alexey SERGEEV, but France confirmed victory when Arnaud BECUWE scored a final minute field goal shortly before Russia’s VOLKOV was given his second Yellow Card of the match. France were worthy winners, but Russia certainly had their chances to at least claim a share of the points from this match.
Match 3: Poland 3 defeated Japan 2
Poland got the better of Japan in a game that featured a fairly dull and lifeless first half but a superbly exciting second period.
The first half had limited goal-scoring opportunities due to extremely defensive tactics from both sides as they aimed to ensure that their opponents did not get the upper hand. The only notable action in the period came in the form of disciplinary cards, with Marcin STRYKOWSKI being shown a Green in the 26th minute before Bartosz ZYWICZKA was ordered off the field with a Yellow Card four minutes from half time. The first half may have been dull, but the second period was nothing short of explosive. Two minutes after half time Poland grabbed the lead when Marcin STRYKOWSKI tapped in from close range, but Japan scored a cracking equaliser thanks to a fierce penalty corner from Katsuyoshi NAGASAWA. Poland again put their noses in front in the 49th minute with another field goal, this time coming from the stick of Thomasz GORNY who broke through the Japan defence and confidently fired home. Again though, Japan came back strongly and found another equaliser when Kenji KITAZATO found the goal from close range with 16 minutes remaining. Although both sides had abandoned their defensive tactics from the first half and thrown caution to the wind, it seemed that the match was destined to be a draw. However, Thomasz GORNY had other ideas and smashed a sensational effort into the roof of the goal with under two minutes of the match to leave Japan utterly stunned. Japan immediately went on the attack, but Poland blocked out their opponent to seal a remarkable victory that could kick-start their dreams of winning this title.
Match 4: Ireland 3 defeated Chile 0
The final match of the day saw host nation Ireland attract a large crowd for their fixture against Chile, and they were not to be disappointed as the host nation cruised to an easy 3-0 victory over their opponents. John JERMYN scored all three goals for Ireland as the team produced a solid performance to mark themselves as one of the favourites for the tournament.
The weather turned from glorious sunshine to rain just as the teams took to the field, but it certainly did not affect the Irish performance. In the eighth minute, John JERMYN won Ireland’s first penalty corner with a mazy dribble into the Chilean circle, and it was he who found the back of the net with a powerful flick to give his side a 1-0 lead. Chile were not without their chances, and won a penalty corner midway through the half that forced an impressive save from Ireland goalkeeper David HARTE. Ireland moved into a 2-0 lead when JERMYN flicked another penalty corner into the roof of the net in the 30th minute, before Chile’s Matias AMOROSO was given a Yellow Card to make life even more difficult for the South Americans. Chile came out firing in the early stages, but JERMYN put the game out of reach with an expertly converted penalty stroke to kill off their opponents. Ireland nearly made it 4-0 when David HOBBS fired a wonderful effort onto the post, but it did not make a difference to the result. Ireland were by far the better team, and the 3-0 result puts them at the top of Pool A at the end of Day 1.
Men’s Champions Challenge II, Dublin. Day 1 - Scores & Scorers
Match 1: Pool B - Malaysia v Austria 3-2 (1-0)
1-0 MAS K.S. MAKBUL SINGH FG 4m
1-1 AUT Michael KÖRPER PC 43m
2-1 MAS Muhammad Amin RAHIM PC 46m
3-1 MAS Muhammad Amin RAHIM PC 49m
3-2 AUT Michael KÖRPER PC 60m
Match 2: Pool B – France v Russia 5-3 (2-1)
1-0 FRA Sebastian JEAN-JEAN FG 14m
2-0 FRA Nicolas MARTIN BRISAC PC 17m
2-1 RUS Alexey SERGEEV PC 19m
2-2 RUS Alexey MAYOROV FG 37m
3-2 FRA Frederic SOYEZ PC 40m
4-2 FRA Arnaud BECUWE PC 56m
4-3 RUS Alexey SERGEEV PS 68m
5-3 FRA Arnaud BECUWE FG 70m
Match 3: Pool A - Japan v Poland 2-3 (0-0)
0-1 POL Marcin STRYKOWSKI FG 37m
1-1 JPN Katsuyoshi NAGASAWA PC 44m
1-2 POL Thomas GORNY FG 49m
2-2 JPN Kenji KITAZATO FG 54m
2-3 POL Thomas GORNY FG 69m
Match 4: Pool A – Ireland v Chile 3-0 (2-0)
1-0 IRL John JERMYN PC 8m
2-0 IRL John JERMYN PC 30m
3-0 IRL John JERMYN PS 49m
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