2012 Hero FIH Road to London tournament – Men – Day 5
With its hard fought 1-1 draw against Canada, France finished second in the round-robin, earning a berth in the Final when Poland failed to collect a point against India in a 4-2 loss. Italy collected its first points of the event against Singapore, 4-0.
Italy vs. Singapore: 4-0 (half-time: 2-0)
Italy and Singapore, both still winless, were looking for a more balanced game and started the last round-robin match with enthusiasm. The first good chance was for Agustin Nunez from a penalty-corner but his well-taken flick was just wide.
Italy dominated the proceedings and pushed Singapore back on their heels. Eventually, Ignacio Salas who opened the scoring in the 17th minute, receiving a pass into the circle before turning and slamming his shot past Robin Wan Chiang Ng in the Singaporean goal.
The young team from Singapore, improving quickly in this competition, held their ground and threatened the Italian goal in the final minute of the period, but goalkeeper Davide Guida somehow managed to clear the danger from a chaotic goal-mouth scramble. However, Italy were not to be denied a second goal before the break, with Agustin Nunez firing home in the dying seconds of the half.
The match continued to be animated in second period with Italy controlling action, but often frustrated by their Asian counterparts before Agustin Nunez scored his second and Italy's third goal. Italy added another penalty-corner in the final minute to seal a 4-0 success.
The two teams will play meet again on Sunday in the 5th-6th place match.
Player of the Match was Agustin Nunez of Italy.
For more information on ITA v SIN, click here.
France vs. Canada: 1-1 (half-time: 0-1)
Sad news reached the French team during its rest day in Delhi. Christophe Genestet, the father of Martin, Tom and Hugo (playing in this competition) passed away back home. As well as supporting and encouraging his sons, Christophe was a great servant of French hockey, and in particular St. Germain-en-Laye Hockey Club. In memory of Christophe, the players, officials, volunteers and spectators in the stadium showed their appreciation of his life by a period of applause.
It was an important match for the two teams: With two games left in the round-robin, only India is qualified for the Final. Canada, France and Poland can still hope to join them depending on today's results. Canada has a strong goal difference, but needs a win against France to stay in contention. Top striker Mark Pearson (six goals) had a golden opportunity when he received the ball alone in front of the Matthias Dierckens in the French goal, but his powerful shot went wide.
The match was intense, neither team giving an inch in defense and pushing forward as soon as they could. Sukhwinder “Gabbar” Singh had a chance for Canada, Martin Genestet had one for France at the other end, then it was Iain Smyth’s turn to be in good position for Canada, then Tom Genestet for France, but there was still no scoring after half-an-hour of play. Canada applied more pressure in the final minutes of the period but Matthias Dierckens stood tall in the French goal to deflect a shot from close range by Sukhwinder Singh.
Canada finally scored in the final minute of the period after a swift combination with Jesse Watson, Ken Pereira and Rob Short, that ended on the stick of Iain Smythe, on his knee in front of the goal. He nevertheless managed to control the ball and slot it in goal for a narrow 1-0 lead going into the half-time break.
France needed to take some risks to get back into the game and it besieged the Canadian circle. France earned a penalty-corner for a reckless tackle and thought that it had scored, but the initial shot was too high. Tempers were flaring on the French side and they kept pushing, throwing everything they could at Canada, but the experienced Canadian held tight, well regrouped around Scott Tupper and Rob Short.
France did not help its cause by collecting a few green cards, but Fabien Magner finally got the equalizer, surprising the Canadian defense to beat David Carter from close range. It was the turn of Canada to take risks and lose its temper, Sukhwinder “Gabbar” Singh collected an ill-timed yellow card.
Player of the Match was David Carter, goal-keeper for Canada.
For more information on FRA v CAN, click here.
India vs. Poland: 4-2 (half-time: 1-1)
India was already qualified for the Final on Sunday, but Poland could still overtake France for the second berth in the Final with a win or a tie.
India was all over Poland in the first fifteen minutes, peppering the Polish goal eithr off target, or denied by an excellent Mariusz Chyla in the Polish goal.
Poland held tight and surprised the Indian defense on their first attack, earning a penalty-corner. It used an excellent option, Miroslaw Juszczak faking the shot before sliding the ball to Tomasz Dutkiewicz who slammed it in goal over the head of a ducking defender.
India immediately resumed its outrageous domination, but could not capitalize on its multiple chances, including on a number of penalty-corners. It was only in the 25th minute that Sandeep Singh had a decent attempt, slotting his flick high in the net over Mariusz Chyla. Indian goal-keeper Bharat Chetri nearly thumbled a ball in the dying second of the period, much to the displeasure of his defenders, but half-time was reached with a 1-1 tie.
India continued its incredible series of narrow misses and miss-trapping of penalty-corners in second period, much to the growing concern of the crowd. Finally Shivendra Singh deflected the ball from a position where it would have been difficult to miss the goal, giving a narrow lead to India. However, Poland immediately forced a penalty-corner and scored on a passive Indian defense by Miroslaw Juszczak to tie the score again at 2-2.
Raghunath Vokkaliga Ramachandra replaced Sandeep Singh on the next penalty-corner and gave back the lead to India, forcing Poland to throw caution to the wind to score again, but it was India who scored the final goal, with a penalty-corner in the final second of the match.
The final 4-2 win for India keeps France ahead of Poland, meaning the final will be between India and France, while Poland will play Canada for 3rd place.
Player of the Match was Mariusz Chyla, goal-keeper for Poland.
For more information on IND v POL, click here.
Schedule for Sunday February 26:
15h00: (5th-6th) Italy vs. Singapore
17h30: (3rd-4th) Poland vs. Canada
20h00: (Final) India vs.France (winner qualifies for 2012 Olympic Games in London)