Argentina Hockey Champions Challenge 1
Quilmes, Argentina - November 24 - 2, 2012


Malaysia, Korea, Ireland & Argentina reach Semis

November 29, 2012
Argentina Hockey Men's Champions Challenge 1: Day 4 Reports

Malaysia, Korea, Ireland and hosts Argentina have all won through to the Semi Finals of the Argentina Hockey Men’s Champions Challenge 1 following a scintillating day of action in Quilmes.

Malaysia continued their superb goal-scoring form with a 4-1 victory against a vastly improved South Africa team, with Faizal Saari scoring twice in a win that sets up a Semi Final meeting against Asian rivals Korea, who defeated Japan 3-2. It was a hard earned win for Korea, who fought back from 2-1 down to win the match thanks to superb open play strikes from Kang Moon Kewon and You Hyo Sik.

Host nation Argentina scored four unanswered first half goals on their way to an 5-1 victory over Pan American rivals Canada to book their place in the Semi Finals. Goals from Lucas Vila (2), Facundo Callioni, Juan Cruz Agulleiro and Guillermo Schickendantz sealed the victory for Argentina, setting up a Semi Final against Ireland. A brace of penalty corners from Conor Harte helped Ireland power to a comprehensive 4-0 triumph over Poland. All four goals came in the second half, with Michael Watt and Shane O’Donoghue also registering to give the Irish a victory that they fully deserved. 

Following the completion of Thursday’s matches, the line-ups for Saturday’s Semi Finals and Classification matches are now confirmed.  At 0830 local time (CET / GMT -3), the first of the placement games will begin when South Africa will face Japan. That match is followed by the second placement match between take on Poland and Canada at 1100 before Malaysia and Korea take to the field at 1400 for the first of the Semi Finals. The final match of the day sees Ireland aiming to upset the odds against home favourites Argentina, which begins at 1700.

As well as booking their respective places in Semi Finals, the winning teams from Thursday’s matches have all now earned qualification for the next edition of the Champions Challenge 1 at the minimum. However, Malaysia, Korea, Ireland and Argentina will all have their sights set firmly on winning the tournament and securing a berth at next year’s Champions Trophy.   

Extended reports from each match along with post match quotes can be found below, with full competition information available at the following link:


Malaysia outgun South Africa to reach Semi Finals

Pool A winners Malaysia have sealed a place in the Semi Finals of the Argentina Hockey Men’s Champions Challenge 1 thanks to a 4-1 over South Africa. Faizal Saari scored twice in the win, with Izwan Firdaus Ahmad Tajuddin and Tengku Tajudin Abdul Jalil also scoring. The result means that Malaysia will play the winner of the Quarter Final contest between Japan and Korea in the Semi Finals. South Africa, who scored a consolation goal through team captain Austin Smith, will now play in the 5-8 classification matches.

The unfancied South Africans – who finished fourth in Pool B – actually started the brighter of the two teams, but a brilliant counter-attack saw Malaysia establish a lead after just three minutes when Izwan Firdaus Ahmad Tajuddin volleyed home from close range. It seemed that Malaysia would extend their advantage midway through the period when they won a trio of penalty corners in quick succession, but they could not find a way past South Africa keeper Jacques Le Roux.  South Africa were arguably the better team in the latter stages of the half, with Gregg Clark’s men playing with passion as well as a firm belief that they could get themselves back into the game. Miguel da Graca had a glorious chance to equalise when he received the ball in the circle with just the keeper to beat, but he failed to get any power behind his flicked effort before Malaysia cleared their lines.

Malaysia doubled their lead three minutes into the second half when Faizal Saari sent a low penalty corner drag-flick arrowing into the bottom right corner of the goal, before Tengku Tajudin Abdul Jalil went close to making it 3-0 with two chances in quick succession. The South Africans battled hard to find a way back into the match and came close to reducing the deficit when Matt Guise-Brown’s penalty corner flick flew fractionally over the cross-bar shortly before Lonwabo Mvimbi’s low strike brought a fine save from Malaysian shot-stopper Kumar Subramian.

The killer blow arrived with 14 minutes of the match remaining when Tengku Tajudin Abdul Jalil scored a stunning penalty corner deflection to make the score 3-0. Moments later, Faizal Saari claimed his second of the game with a solo effort to end any hopes of a South African fightback. South Africa pressed hard in the final stages of the game and pulled a goal back through an Austin Smith penalty corner, but it proved to be no more than a consolation as Malaysia closed out the game to seal their place in the tournament Semi Finals.     

To see the official match sheet, please click here.


Gregg Clark (RSA Coach)
“Our quality was not good enough today.  We made too many soft errors.  I think part of the reason is that the team failed to achieve the right intensity in our play. Now we have to change our focus and try to end this tournament as high as possible.”

Austin Smith (RSA Captain)
“We were not good today. We feel positive although we don’t play well. We made so many mistakes and basic errors that we didn’t have the chance to compete. Our plan was good but we couldn’t execute it. We will focus on the next match and end as high as possible.”

Paul Revington (MAS Coach)
“We are pleased to win and to score four goals, again. We were effective in our penalty corners. The goal keeper and team’s performance was really good today. Emotionally, the team handled the situation very well.
“I’m not concerned about our next rival. I think of my team.”

 Mod Shahrun Abdullah (MAS Captain)
“I’m really happy as the whole team played very well today. We know that we must improve game by game. And we know that in this tournament, the next match will be harder than the previous. Of course we want to win this tournament, but we are focused on qualification for the Olympic Games.”


Korea beat Japan in Asia derby

Korea fought back from behind to emerge as winners in the Asia derby match, defeating Japan 3-2 in the Quarter finals of the Argentina Hockey Men’s Champions Challenge 1 in Quilmes. It was a hard earned win for Korea, who fought back from 2-1 down to win the match thanks to superb open play strikes from Kang Moon Kewon and You Hyo Sik. The win puts Korea into the tournament Semi Finals where they will face Malaysia, who defeated South Africa earlier in the day.  

There was nothing to choose between the two teams in the first half, with both sides having equal amounts of possession but creating very few genuine scoring opportunities. Korea took the lead in the 23rd minute when a defensive mix-up in the Japan circle lead to an own goal, although Japan ensured that they went into the break with the scores level thanks to Tomonori Ono’s high quality penalty corner deflection three minutes from the break.

The second half was far more entertaining than the first, with both sides attacking at will in a bid to keep alive their chances of winning the tournament. Japan captain Kei Kawakama gave his team the lead in the 39th minute with a close range strike, punishing a Korean defence that failed to clear their lines with a composed, chipped finish. The goal sparked an immediate response from Korea, who forced their opponents deep into their own half and won a succession of penalty corners. However, the usually reliable Jang Jong Hyun could not add to the six penalty corner goals that he has claimed so far in this tournament, with two of his efforts missing the target completely.

Although Japan were constantly threatening on the counter-attack, it seemed only a matter of time before Korea grabbed an equaliser. The much-anticipated leveller arrived in 50th minute when Kang Moon Kewon smashed a powerful reverse stick shot into the corner before the decisive goal arrived three minutes later. You Hyo Sik was the scorer, brilliantly beating Japan goalkeeper Katsuya Takase at his near post with a perfectly angled deflection. You almost added a fourth goal in the 64th minute, but impressive Japan defender Koji Kayukawa cleared the ball off his own goal-line to keep his team in the match. Japan battled hard towards the end of the match, but Korea showed calm heads in defence to seal the win. 

To see the official match sheet, please click here.  


Shin Seok Kyo (KOR Coach)
“It was a very typical match today. It was an even first half, but in the second half we made the difference. I made some tactical changes and we could win. I’m happy. Our next rival is Malaysia, and I know it is a very strong team, well organized. They have many talented players who have good skills. We have to improve our performance and I trust in my young players.”

 Shunsuke Nagaoka (JPN Team Manager)
“We played very well today because the team was very disciplined, and listened to the instructions we gave them. But we gave them easy goals, and an own goal. We made many mistakes in defence. Our next rival is South Africa. We played against them twice in the Olympic qualifying. We lost once, 2 -1, and then, we got a draw. I know their play is tight, but I’m focused on my team.”

 Shinji Kawauchi (JPN Player)
“Although we could have drawn the match, we couldn’t hold their attack. In the second half they overturned the score, and from then on we became slower. We created a lot of chances to score but we couldn’t. South Africa is our next opponent and we drew with them when we played in the Pool, but this time we will win. We must be stronger in defence.” 

Inspired Ireland crush Poland to reach Semi Finals

A brace of penalty corners from Conor Harte helped Ireland powered into the tournament Semi Finals with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Poland. All four goals came in the second half, with Michael Watt and Shane O’Donoghue also registering to give the Irish a victory that they fully deserved. It was a good day for both of the Harte brothers, with goalkeeper David keeping a clean-sheet in his 100th senior international match.  Ireland’s Semi Final opponents will be either Argentina or Canada, who meet in the final match of the day here in Quilmes.

Ireland played unquestionably their best hockey of the tournament in this contest, and could count themselves unlucky not to go into half time with a comfortable lead after dominating their European rivals.  The Irish controlled the opening stages but it was Poland who were first to test the keeper when team captain Dariusz Rachwalski crashed a reverse stick shot into the pads of David Harte, who was playing in his 100th match for his country. As the half progressed the Irish pressure gradually increased before the Polish defence started to showed signs of cracking. Outstanding goalkeeper Arkadiusz Matuszak came to Poland’s rescue twice in quick succession, denying efforts from Peter Caruth and Michael Watt with superb saves.  

The Irish won their first penalty corner seven minutes from the end of the half, but Matuszak again proved to be Poland’s hero with a brilliant save from the flick of Shane O’Donoghue. Poland began to find some rhythm towards the end of the half and eventually won a penalty corner of their own, but the Krystian Makowski fired his follow-up attempt high and wide to complete a scoreless but entertaining first 35 minutes.    

Poland gave Ireland a scare at the start of the 2nd half when a driving run from the talismanic Rachwalski caused chaos in the Irish circle before Ireland’s O’Donoghue fired a reverse stick shot over the cross-bar.

The deadlock was finally broken ten minutes into the second half when Michael Watt produced a blistering shot in a crowded circle to give Ireland a deserved lead. The goal was followed up by two virtually identical penalty corner flicks from Conor Harte either side of a Yellow Card for Poland’s Szymon Oszyjczyk for an off the ball incident. Shane O’Donoghue scored Ireland’s fourth goal seven minutes from the end of the match, beating his man on the left before finding the bottom right corner with an accurate strike to wrap up the scoring and confirm Ireland’s place in the Semi Finals. 

To see the official match sheet, please click here. 


Karol Sniekek (POL Coach)
“We had a hard task in the first half and we managed to hold Irish pressure. But it was not the same in the second half, although we had our chances. There are many young players in the team with not enough experience to handle an unfavourable score. Anyway I’m glad that those players are here, because these kind of tournaments are difficult and they are experiencing it.”

 Dariusz Rachwalski (POL Captain)
“We are very disappointed with this match, as we lost the possibility to be in the Quarter Finals. In the first half we were organized in defence, but after the second goal in the second half we had to move forward. We we had nothing to lose, but they took advantage with counter attacks. They attacked and found us disorganized.”

On who they would like to face in the Classification Match
“Argentina and Canada are both tough rivals, and we respect them both.”

Andrew Meredith (IRL Coach)
“I’m really pleased with this result and the performance of the team today. We played a good first half, we had 18 penetrations in the area, but despite the domination the team couldn’t score. In the second half the team was effective and our attacks had a good ending.”

On who they would like to face in the Classification Match
“It doesn’t matter if the next rival is Argentina or Canada. We are playing better game every game, and the team’s confidence is getting higher.”

Ronan Gormley (IRL Captain)
“We are happy today as we played a really good match, all of the team. It’s always difficult to break down a well-organized team. We defended our area well, and I think we are improving match by match. We all know that we have to work harder if we want to keep on this road”.


Argentina win Pan American derby match 
Host nation Argentina  scored four unanswered first half goals on their way to an 5-1 victory over Pan American rivals Canada to reach the Semi Finals of the Men’s Champions Challenge 1 in Quilmes. Goals from Lucas Vila (2), Facundo Callioni, Juan Cruz Agulleiro and Guillermo Schickendantz sealed the victory for Argentina, with Canada’s solitary strike coming from Scott Tupper. The result means that Argentina will play Ireland in the Semi Finals on Saturday.

It took Argentina just over one minute to score the opening goal of the game when a speculative long pass found Lucas Vila, who produced a glorious chip over the head of Canadian keeper David Carter to give the South Americans the perfect start. Vila’s goal was truly magnificent, with Carter and pretty much everyone in the venue expecting a powerful strike for goal rather than such a cultured finish. It was the first of four first half goals for Argentina, with Facundo Callioni, Juan Cruz Agulleiro and Guillermo Schickendantz all firing in brilliant strikes from open play as the South Americans ran riot.  Canada were very much second best in the opening period, although they did create a few decent chances of their own with Sukhwinder Singh having the best of them with a fierce strike from the left of the circle.

Canada had the first chance of the second half when Sukhwinder Singh escaped his marker down the right before setting up Matt Guest, but the powerful striker failed to hit the target with his reverse stick effort. It was an early sign of what was a vastly improved second half performance from Canada, who pulled a goal back six minutes into the half. Team captain and central defender Scott Tupper scored a rare field goal with a well-placed shot from the top of the circle. However, a penalty stroke from Lucas Vila re-established Argentina’s four goal advantage with fifteen minutes of the match remaining.

Although the Argentineans never reproduced the explosive brilliance of their first half performance, their solid second half display ensured a positive result for the home favourites. 

To see the official match sheet, please click here. 


Franco Nicola (ARG Coach)
“Our game was really good. We did expect them to put pressure on us, but we knew that we had to strike at the right moment, and the boys did that. Playing against Ireland will be hard, as they are physically strong. We must play well organized to win this match.” 

Facundo Callioni (ARG Scorer)
“We understood the match. We always had the ball, and did a good job in the defence. It was a quieter game than we expected. Although they tried to put pressure we could control the situation. The most important thing was that we played well and won.”

Anthony Farry (CAN Coach)
“Argentina just played much better than us in every aspect. They did everything well. Our team tried to maintain the pressure, but they couldn’t. It was a fantastic lesson for our young players.”    

Scott Tupper (CAN Captain)
“Obviously we are very disappointed with our first half. We made so many mistakes, and a talented team like Argentina capitalized on our errors. I think the changes in the second half let us play better, and we tried to pressure but we were not able to achieve the tactical adjustment. We have already played against Poland, and if we correct the mistakes we could play a great match.”


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