Visit the FIH website for the men's Sahara Hockey Champions Trophy
The Netherlands and Germany will play in the tournament decider at the men’s Sahara Hockey Champions Trophy in Terrassa after emerging from a dramatic and unpredictable end to the preliminary rounds.
In a remarkable day’s play, the final two matches of the round phase decided tomorrow’s finalists, with both winning teams scoring late in their matches to win 4-3 and advance to the gold medal match
The Dutch notched two goals in the final two minutes to overcome Spain before Germany went one better and scored after the full time siren from a penalty corner top end Australia’s Champions Trophy defence and secure their place in the tournament’s marquee match.
On a day where Dutch captain Jeroen Delmee broke the record for the most international appearances by Netherlands men’s player, the seven-time Champions Trophy winners moved into their fifth straight final after a late comeback ended Spain’s spirited challenge.
Delmee’s his 338th international appearance eclipsed the record previously held by Jacques Brinkman as he added another impressive achievement in a career that is one of the most decorated in world hockey history.
The appearance of the Netherlands in tomorrow’s decider equals the record of the German team from the early half of the last decade, who played for the Champions Trophy gold medal five straight times from 1991 to 1995 (for three victories).
The Dutch currently have two titles to their credit in the last four years (2002, 2003) and will equal the strike rate of Germany with a victory tomorrow.
They can claim their eighth overall title tomorrow to draw level with Australia and Germany for the most ever, but first they will have to overcome one of the teams that currently holds the joint record.
The Netherlands looked to be cruising to victory in the clash against Spain before the home team mounted another second half assault to steal the lead 12 minutes before full time.
However the Netherlands steadied and scored a pair of goals in the final 110 seconds to secure the match and a position in the final.
Their opponent’s in tomorrow’s final, Germany, looked out of contention before a disastrous error by Australia with one second remaining gave Christopher Zeller a chance from a penalty corner to carry his team into their first final since 2002.
Australia appeared to have the match under control with a hat trick to Troy Elder giving them the edge.
However Germany’s determination and refusal to lose caused Australia to wilt under the strain of the pressure in the final 10 minutes and throw away the chance to defend their title.
Germany’s Champions Trophy title collection has stalled in recent years, with their last win coming in 2001 in Rotterdam. However they have completed an undefeated tournament so far and face a Dutch team that itself looked like it would be playing for the bronze medal.
In the opening (almost forgotten) match of the day, Pakistan and Argentina played a dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s fifth place playoff with the three-time champions too strong for the South Americans.
An early goal and another shortly before half time gave Pakistan the buffer they needed and despite Argentina scoring close to full time to halve the margin of victory.
Pakistan will be favoured to avoid last spot tomorrow, a position they have occupied only once (1999) in 26 previous Champions Trophy tournaments.
Tomorrow’s final is scheduled for 18:00, with the bronze medal match between Spain and Australia to start at 15:30. The battle for fifth place is schedule for 13:00.
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