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After an opening round loss, Australia, the tournament’s number one seeds, announced their title intentions in style on day four of the BDO Hockey World Cup in Monchengladbach.
The Olympic champions’ arrival on the winners’ list came via a blistering first half assault on Argentina that left the South Americans stunned and out of the contest.
After their scoring touch deserted them in their opening match against Spain, the world number one found a measure of attacking form with a three-goal, seven-minute burst midway through the first half.
The loss ends Argentina’s hope of finishing in the top two places in Pool A and with it a semi final place. They can now only strive for a successful end to the preliminary rounds to avoid a playoff for the bottom four places.
For Australia, their campaign is back on track despite still having some defensive problems which resulted in a number of penalty corners being conceded in the second half.
Earlier in the day, Germany recovered from a two-goal second half deficit in front of 12,000 rowdy spectators to score an important draw with arch rival the Netherlands; a result that leaves the Dutch in a precarious position.
The second half especially was a spectacular display, with the Netherlands scoring a pair of quick goals after the break before Germany added their touch of theatre to the occasion with a double of their own.
The Netherlands had three clear chances to make their qualification chances easier in the final minutes but a deflection that hit the right post and two saved penalty corner chances allowed Germany to hold on.
Korea leads Pool B with a perfect two-win record followed by Germany and the Netherlands on four points. A Korea win against South Africa and a Germany victory over England tomorrow will leave the Dutch three points adrift of second place in Pool B with two matches remaining.
New Zealand continued their unbeaten run with a narrow win over Japan in a performance that wasn’t their best of the tournament, but was as important as their previous positive results.
A single goal was all that separated the teams although Japan had enough chances to perhaps win the match, especially from penalty corners.
With seven points from three matches, the Black Sticks are in control of their World Cup. However a pair of huge challenges is ahead before the end of the preliminary rounds and confirmation of the semi final participants; matches against Pool A’s top two teams, Spain and Australia.
For the time being however, New Zealand have already reached the seven-point mark, placing the pressure on the chasing teams to continue winning or risk slipping off the pace.
In the opening match of day four, South Africa ended India’s World Cup semi final aspirations with a late goal that also helped keep their slender chances afloat.
Indian again tired in the second half and after looking the better team for much of the match, allowed South Africa to equalise and rob them of an extra two points that a victory would have brought.
Another four-match programme tomorrow will be vital to the semi final chances of some teams. Play starts at 12:30 local time with a clash between Pakistan and Spain.
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