The second day of the Argentina Hockey Champions Challenge 1 saw Malaysia surprise Korea with a 4-2 win and Japan book an unlikely win against a dominating Irish side. Argentina wrestled down South Africa, and Poland fought back from two goals down against Canada to win their first point.
Canada v Poland 3-3 (1-1): Marcin Lewartowski's double hit wins a point for Poland
In the morning game in Quilmes, Poland caught Canada on the wrong foot, winning a penalty corner with only a little over two minutes on the clock that was duly converted by Miroslaw Juszczak. The Canadians immediately pushed back, chasing the elusive equalizer but it took them twenty minutes to succeed, with Gabbar Singh as the author. Neither side could score more, and they went into halftime tied at 1-1.
After the break, Canada kept the momentum from the late first half equalizer up, and took the lead early with a goal by Hudson Stewart. The Canadians were on a roll, and showed some excellent combination play, putting persistent pressure on the Polish defense and creating a number of chances. The Polish players seemed to start struggling with the unrelenting Canadian attacks and the once more blindingly bright sunshine in Quilmes as time went on, but Canada couldn't consolidate their lead.
Finally, Gabriel Ho-Garcia managed to put another one on the scoreboard for Canada with a brilliant touch, tipping a diagonal ball across the circle over the line near the far post. Rather than consigning the Polish to their fate, the strike seemed to jolt them awake, and Marcin Lewartowski inflicted a quick double hit to tie the score, maing good use of the one man advantage after two Canadians and one Polish player were off the field on yellow cards.
The final ten minutes of the match were fiercely contested, but the scoreboard didn't change any further, the final 3-3 score giving each team their first point in pool A.
Anthony Farry (Coach Canada): "It’s very hard to win an international match especially when three players are sent off with yellow cards. Our movement was really good, we were quite aggressive with pressing, and looking good in patches, but discipline cost us today."
Stewart Hudson (Goalscorer for Canada): "I’m disappointed with the result today. We lost composure and they took advantage of that and our yellow cards. We must correct that for the next match and play with composure and intelligence, as we were very sloppy."
Gabbar Singh (Goalscorer for Canada): "We actually have a very young team, and they played really well, but we couldn’t control the game and we missed many opportunities. We could have won, but we missed a few good chances. Hopefully, the young players can get more confidence for the next game."
Karol Sniezek (Coach Poland): "It was a difficult game for us, the second game in a row. The first game we lost, and today we very much wanted our first points. We knew that the Canadian team has a good press and they played very well in the first half, but we knew as well that they were going to become more and more tired. So we waited for our chance to score and get our point today.
Karol Sniezek (Coach Poland): "I am very happy that my youngest player could score in this tournament. These are Marcin Lewartowski's first goals in his international career. He is only 19 years old and the third goal was beautiful. They played very well today and that makes me feel happy for him."
Malaysia v Korea 4-2 (3-1): Malaysian men surprise Korea to claim pool A lead
In the clash of the Asian representatives in pool A at the Argentina Hockey Champions Challenge 1 today, things seemed to take their expected course when Korea scored an early goal through penalty corner specialist Jang Jong Hyun.
Malaysia had different plans however, and fought back with determination. An 18th minute penalty corner from Muhammad Razie Abd Rahim set the balance back to start, and a blitz hit yielding two goals in about a minute towards the end of the first half, both at the hands of Tengku Ahmad Tajudin Abdul Jalil, established a comfortable lead already.
In the second half, Chua Boon Huat piled on another against a Korean team that didn't seem able to find a way to deal with the speedy Malaysians strikers. Malaysia had a number of further opportunities but it was Korea that scored with about ten minutes left on the clock, once more at the hands of Jang Jong Hyun.
But it was too little too late for Korea, and the Malaysian team celebrated the final whistle that spelt out a 4-2 win for them.
Tengku Abdul Jalil (Player Malaysia): "I think we played well most of the match, but the last 20 minutes we were struggling to maintain our performance. The result is only one side, but we are not satisfied of our performance. There are many things to improve in the group for the next match."
Paul Revington (Coach Malaysia): "I think we finished the game pleased with the fact that we won it 4-2. The players are maybe disappointed for the last 10 minutes of the match, but I am pleased and proud of them, for how they have performed the last 2 games and we are making improvements day by day."
Ireland v Japan 0-3 (0-1): More heartbreak for Ireland
After yesterday's disappointing narrow defeat at the hands of the hosts, Ireland came out all the more focussed and determined today, ready to force their first points. The boys in green played an excellent first half, creating scores of opportunities, and Japanese goalkeeper Katsuya Takase put down an outstanding performance to prevent his team from falling behind.
Eventually, it was Japan who scored against the run of play as their first circle penetration yielded a penalty corner that Kazuhiro Tsubouchi made good use of. Following their goal, Japan slowly found their way into the game better, but Ireland still dominated play for long stretches of time.
After the break, Ireland still remained the stronger side, but frustration started to creep in as their efforts yielded little. Halfway through the second half, a long ball into the circle set up Tomonori Ono who slid in to make it 2-0.
The balance started shifting, with Ireland losing momentum and committing more errors as Japan gained traction. Shortly after goal number 2, Shinji Kawauchi finished off some great combination play up front after a quick break by slapping the ball over the line for a three goal lead with six minutes on the clock.
Ireland had to concede defeat at this point, a disappointing loss after being the stronger team for most of the match, but unable to score from a total of 16 shots on goal.
Kang Wook (Coach Japan): "I am happy with our players’ skills. We had few scoring chances and our players scored three goals. It is good to improve our players' scoring skills. Ireland is a good team, but today we were able to take advantage of their mistakes."
Katsuya Takase (Goalkeeper Japan): "The Japanese defence played really well today and it helped me to do my job really well. We won because the whole team ran a lot. We are all from the same team in Japan, so we know each other very well."
Geoffrey Mc Cabe (Player Ireland): "We are disappointed with the result. Anybody who saw the match knows that there is not such difference between Japan and Ireland. We created a lot of opportunities today in the circle but couldn’t score, and they scored in the counter-attack. From yesterday we improved our structure, we moved the ball better but we have to improve other things as well. We want to win every game and we played for it, but the tournament’s format suggests that you don’t have to win your first three games. The fourth game is the most important, so we have time to improve our skills for the next games."
Andrew Meredith (Coach Ireland): "We don’t see the games through. In all areas we had 8 corners and 28 circles penetrations and didn’t’ score. We have to be more clinical. If we don’t finish the opportunities that we create, then of course we don’t win games."
South Africa v Argentina 1-2 (0-1): Home team wrestles down South Africa to stay on top in pool B
In the second day's last match, the hosts clashed with South Africa, and it was clear from the first minute, that it was going to be an all-out fight.
Ten minutes into the game, Argentina won a penalty corner, and young Gonzalo Peillat, currently Argentina's number 1 corner striker and on the way to becoming the team's most reliable scorer stepped up and sank a low flick for the match's first goal.
An open battle ensued, a physical game with many skirmishes but few scoring opportunities, as South Africa went to battle to salvage a point and Argentina fought off their challenge to stay ahead. The home team appeared more consolidated and held the South Africans at bay for almost 40 minutes, until a little more than ten minutes into the second half, Matthew Guise-Brown managed to snatch the elusive and elating equalizer.
The South Africans' joy lasted a mere eight minutes however, until Argentina's Willy Schickendantz had his moment in the spotlight. The 33-year-old prolific striker who enjoys great respect in Europe for his appearances with Spanish and Belgian club sides but is only playing his first international tournament with the Argentinean national team, was perfectly positioned near the far post to tap a ball across the circle over the line and give Argentina the winning goal.
South Africa chased another equalizer for he remaining fifteen minutes but Argentina had a firm grip on the match and even had a few opportunities to increase the damage. The match ended with Argentina winning by narrowest of margins staying on top of pool B with 2 victories from as many matches.
Franco Nicola (Coach Argentina): "I am pleased with the result. We won, and that’s very important today. We play to win all the matches, and I am pleased because we did good things in the field today, and improved our skills from yesterday’s match. I am also happy for Willy Schickendantz. It’s easy to talk with an intelligent player, because you can explain what you want in the field. He was the top scorer in Europe. He is 33 years old and deserves the opportunity."
Guillermo Schickendantz (Goalscorer for Argentina): "I waited for this moment for many years while playing in Europe. Playing in a club is different from playing with the shirt of your own country.
Many pictures and images of my last years in Europe came to my mind when I score today. It was one second after the goal that I remembered all the things left behind when I went to play far away from Argentina. Today I am really happy."
Gregg Clark (Coach South Africa): "It was a tough game today. I think the result could have gone either way. Both teams had the opportunities. But I think it was an improvement for us from yesterday’s performance. And we are getting stronger as the tournament goes on, so hopefully by the time the quarter-finals are here we’ll be in the right way."
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