(Photo: Fieldhockey.fr)

Germany dominated England (4-1) and Australia edged The Netherlands (2-1) at the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 in Delhi to set-up the third World Cup Final in a row between Australia and Germany. An overtime goal lifted Canada over Pakistan for 11th-12th place.

Game 31 – 11th-12th – Canada v. Pakistan: 3-2 aet (half-time: 1-1 – full time: 2-2)

The first game of the day started earlier than usual in the afternoon and the heat initially affected the rhythm of play. Pakistan went up first on the scoreboard by Rehan BUTT deflecting an innocuous shot by Shakeel ABBASI from the edge of the circle past Dave CARTER, screened on the play. A period of Canadian domination followed; they were first unlucky when Gabbar SINGH saw his shot hit a post but were finally rewarded in the 12th minute when Connor GRIMES deflected in goal a hard free hit from Rob SHORT.

Canada were playing with heart while the Pakistani players seemed dejected and committed many unforced errors, with only Shakeel ABBASI trying to build plays and shake the troops. Canada had a penalty-corner but Wayne FERNANDES’ flick was deflected wide by Salman AKBAR in goal for Pakistan. Play settled in midfield for the remainder of the half, with few circle penetrations at either end. Canada had two more penalty-corners late in the period but could not control them and half-time was reached on a tied score (1-1).

Second period started with two penalty-corners for Pakistan but Canada defended well in front of Sohail ABBAS, very discreet in this competition with only 2 goals. Pakistan nevertheless took back the lead in the 46th minute by Akhtar ALI, left unmarked in front of the Canadian keeper with time to bat in goal a cross by Muhammad ZUBAIR deflected high by a defender. After a period of Canadian pressure, Pakistan missed another penalty-corner and Dave CARTER made two excellent saves in quick succession to keep his team in the game. 

Canada tied the game for the second time in the 58th minute by Mark PEARSON, deflecting acrobatically in goal a cross from the right lifted by a defender. With ten minutes to go and neither team controlling play, it was everybody’s game. Canada had a chance on penalty-corner (their forth of the game); they tried an option but it fizzled. Pakistan were reduced to ten players after a yellow card to Akhtar ALI but nevertheless forced a penalty-corner in the dying seconds of the period; Sohail ABBAS missed and the match had to go into extra-time, with golden goal in effect.                                                                                                                

Gabbar SINGH forced a penalty-corner in the first period of overtime after running the whole length of the field eluding Pakistani defenders but the shots was deflected wide. Both teams had thrown caution to the wind and play was shifting quickly from one end to the other. A quick Canadian counter-attack by Gabbar SINGH again and Mark PEARSON earned another penalty-corner and this time Scott TUPPER hit it directly out of reach of the keeper to end the suspense and leave Pakistan, 4 times winner of the World Cup, dejected with the wooden spoon of the competition for the first time.

Shortly after the game, the Pakistan Hockey Federation announced the dissolution of the coaching staff and the “retirement” from international hockey of the entire team (including their four teenagers).

Match Facts (Canada v. Pakistan):

> Canada beat Pakistan 3-2 in extra time through a Scott Tupper golden goal.
> This marks Canada’s first win at Delhi 2010, after losing all their 5 pool matches.
> This is the first time Pakistan finish last in a World Cup tournament.
> Canada has now won all three of their WC Final 11-12 matches. They also finished 11th in 1978 and 1990.
> Canada were awarded 6 PCs in this match. This exceeds the combined total of 5 PCs they were awarded in their five pool matches at Delhi 2010.
> Conner Grimes became the 5th Canadian goal scorer this tournament.
> Philip Wright did not score in this match, but did become Canada’s top goal scorer at Delhi 2010 (3 goals).
> Rehan Butt (PAK) scored the opening goal to lift his Delhi 2010 total to 3 goals. This makes him Pakistan’s top goal scorer at Delhi 2010.
> Akhtar Ali became the 7th player to score for Pakistan at the Delhi World Cup.

Game 32 – Semi-final – Germany v. England: 4-1
(half-time: 3-1)

The first semi-final started in a hot atmosphere, with memories of the 1986 semi-final between the two countries when England had won in a dramatic overtime. The young German team was the first in action and forced a penalty-corner in the 6th minute, scored by Jan-Marco MONTAG despite James FAIR in the English goal catching a piece of the shot. England thought that they had equalized shortly after by Alastair BROGDON but the goal was denied and it is Germany who scored next by Oliver KORN sneaking behind the English defenders to deflect in goal a cross by Florian WOESCH.

England settled down and took control of play for a while and were rewarded of their activity around the circle by a penalty-corner. Richard SMITH blasted a direct shot right through the pads of Tim JESSULAT in the German goal to reduce the gap. They were then saved by a phenomenal reflex save by James FAIR in goal and defended well another penalty-corner to keep the game within reach, but they could not do much on the next penalty-corner scored by Martin HÄNER after an elaborate combination that left the English defense mystified.

England came after the break decided to fight back and created some hot situation in the German circle. However, English playmakers Barry MIDDLETON and Ashley JACKSON were kept under close watch and the score did not evolve. England had an opportunity after a good combination between Ashley JACKSON and Iain MACKAY but the ball was lost in the heavy traffic in front of goal. James TINDALL then had a good chance after working hard at the top of the circle to find some space for a reverse shot, but the ball ended marginally over the crossbar.

Germany earned another penalty-corner in the 60th minute after using their referral to the video-umpire and Linus BUTT propelled the rebound high over James FAIR, on the ground after stopping the initial shot. The situation was now looking desperate for England, three goals down with less than 8 minutes to go. To make matter worst, Rob MOORE received a yellow card. They nevertheless pushed hard in the final minutes but to no avail and Germany, the reigning Olympic champions and two time defending world champions, earned their berth for the Final, keeping alive their bid to become the first nation to win the FIH World Cup three times in a row.

Match Facts (Germany v. England):

> Germany qualified for a record equalling third successive World Cup final beating England 4-1.
> Pakistan (1975-1982) and Netherlands (1990-1998) have also featured in three successive World Cup finals.
> Australia can also join this list of teams reaching three successive WC finals, if they beat the Netherlands in the second semi-final this evening.
> Germany has now reached the final in each of their last four major championships: 2008 Olympic Games, 2009 European Championship, 2009 Champions Trophy and 2010 World Cup.
> Reigning Olympic champions and two time defending world champions Germany can become the first nation to win the FIH World Cup three times in a row.
> Germany converted 3 of 6 PCs awarded in this match. They are now on 12 PC goals at Delhi 2010, leading Australia, who are on 9 PC goals going into their semi-final match against The Netherlands.
> Germany had also scored 3 PC goals in their matches against Canada (6-0) and New Zealand (5-2).
> On Saturday, England will play the loser of the Australia – Netherland match in the bronze medal play-off, in a quest for their second ever World Cup medal. In 1986 England won silver.

Game 33 – Semi-final – Australia v. Netherlands: 2-1
(half-time: 1-0)

The second semi-final started at full speed and the first opportunity was for Australia when Grant SCHUBERT managed a shot from close range, saved by Guus VOGELS in the DUTCH goal... with his helmet. The Kookaburras maintained their pressure and the same player had another chance from close range but Guus VOGELS managed again another brilliant save.

The game was fast paced from end-to-end and both teams were giving a sumptuous display of technical skills executed at high speed and under constant pressure. Rogier HOFMAN threatened Nathan BURGERS in the Australian goal with a reverse shot from a narrow angle that went marginally over the crossbar but most opportunities were in the Dutch circles, with Jamie DWYER and Edward OCKENDEN very active. The Netherlands forced a penalty-corner somewhat against the run of play but Jeroen HERTZBERGER could not convert.

Teun DE NOOIJER propelled a rocket just wide of the Australian goal, then on the next play Desmond ABBOTT forced a penalty-corner with an instant pivot followed by a shot stopped by a defender’s foot, and Luke DOERNER made no mistake to open the scoring in the 27th minute, taking the lead of the Top Goal Scorers of the competition with 7 goals. Both the Netherlands and Australia had another penalty-corner in the final stages but could not control it and this exciting first period ended with a narrow, but deserved, one-goal lead for Australia.

Second period started with an immediate chance for Desmond ABBOTT. The Kookaburras were progressing up field with quick passes that were often turning the heads of the Dutch midfield and defense. The Dutch were frequently a step slower and collected two green cards for late tackles. There were many boiling hot situations in front of Guus VOGELS, but no resulting goals and the Dutch were still within striking distance.

The Kookaburras were finally rewarded of their intense pressure in the 55th minute with a goal by Glenn TURNER at the conclusion of a long series of passes in the Dutch circle. Their joy was however short lived as a Dutch penalty-corner a few minutes later evolved in a penalty-stroke cleanly converted by Taeke TAEKEMA. With ten minutes to go, the momentum shifted and The Netherlands, vocally pushed by their fans outfitted in orange, threw everything they had towards the Australian circle. A long high ball found Teun DE NOOIJER behind the defense but Nathan BURGERS was waiting for him at the top of the circle.

With time passing, it seemed more difficult for the Dutch to penetrate the compact and solid Australian defense and Australia won this sumptuous game to set-up the third Final in a row between Australia and Germany!

Match Facts (Australia v. Netherlands):

> Australia secured their fourth World Cup final berth and their third in succession, as did Germany.
> Only Pakistan (6) and The Netherlands (5) have played more World Cup finals.
> This will be the third successive time Australia face Germany in the World Cup final. The Kookaburras lost to Germany in both 2002 and 2006.
> Australia are now unbeaten in 10 successive matches against the Netherlands at major tournament (OG, WC and CT).
> Australia became the fourth team to reach three successive World Cup finals joining Germany (2002-2010), Pakistan (1975-1982) and Netherlands (1990-1998).
> Liam De Young is the only player on the current squad to have played in Australia’s two previous WC finals.
> Luke Doerner (AUS) and Taeke Taekema (NED) are now tied on7 goals atop of the goal scorer table.
> Luke Doerner has now equalled the total number of goals by his current coach Ric Charlesworth in the 1986 World Cup (7).
> Taekema became only the third player ever to reach 20 World Cup goals. Taekema needs one more goals to equal Ties Kruize (NED, 21 goals) and 6 goals to equal all-time WC top scorer Paul Litjens (NED, 26 goals).
> The Netherlands play England in the Bronze medal match, which will see Dutch captain Teun de Nooijer chasing a record equaling fourth World Cup medal.
> The only player so far to have won four World Cup medals is Pakistan’s Akhtar Rasool.

The Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 continues on Friday in Delhi with the classification matches, when New Zealand and South Africa play for 9th-10th, Argentina face host India for 7th-8th and Korea and Spain conclude the day for 5th-6th.

For additional information, pictures, video clips, official game sheets, and more, please check the special FIH event site @ http://www.worldhockey.org/worldcup/.

Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 (men) – Delhi, India
Results Day 11 - Thursday 11 March 2010

11th-12th – Canada v. Pakistan  3:2 aet (1:1, 2:2)
PAK   4mn  Rehan BUTT (FG)  0:1
CAN  12mn  Connor GRIMES (FG)  1:1
PAK  46mn  Akhtar ALI (FG)  1:2
CAN  58mn  Mark PEARSON (FG)  2:2
CAN  83mn  Scott TUPPER (FG)  3:2 golden goal

Semi-final – Germany v. England  4:1 (3:1)
GER   6mn  Jan-Marco MONTAG (PC)  1:0
GER  11mn  Oliver KORN (FG)  2:0
ENG  18mn  Richard SMITH (PC)  2:1
GER  31mn  Martin HÄNER (PC)  3:1
GER  60mn  Linus BUTT (PC)  4:1

Semi-final – Australia v. Netherlands  2:1 (1:0)
AUS  27mn  Luke DOERNER (PC)  1:0
AUS  55mn  Glenn TURNER (FG)  2:0
NED  58mn  Taeke TAEKEMA (PS)  2:1

Schedule for last two days:
Friday 12 March
15:35 – 9th-10th – New Zealand v. South Africa
18:05 – 7th-8th – Argentina v. India
20:35 – 5th-6th – Korea v. Spain
Saturday 13 march
15:35 – 3rd-4th – England v. Netherlands
18:05 – Final – Germany v. Australia