Photo(© Polish Hockey Association)
Today saw the men's Trophy, Challenge I and Challenge II divisions of the European Nations Cup end in Lisbon, Kazan, and Predanovici respectively.
In Lisbon, Austria and Poland had already won promotion to the 2009 Nations Championships as well as their berths in one of the Olympic Qualifying tournaments to take place between February and April 2008, but met today to fight for the Trophy gold medal. Poland, who have not shown their best hockey in this tournament, took revenge for the defeat at the hands of the Austrians a few days ago and prevailed 4-3 with a goal from a penalty corner after time had ended. The Austrians, the surprise team of the tournament, looked tired but almost held the much higher ranked Polish again. After the game ended, they were still in high spirits, elated at having qualified for a European Nations Championship for the first time since 1983.
In the rest of the matches, Scotland defeated Switzerland to take bronze, but since England have qualified for Great Britain to participate in an Olympic qualifying tournament, the Swiss still get their berth in one of the qualifiers. Yesterday, Wales had already cruised past Portugal and Italy had defeated the Ukraine for the two winning teams to remain in the Trophy division, while Portugal and the Ukraine are relegated to Challenge I.
In Challenge I in Kazan, hometeam Russia and neighbours Belarus won promotion to the 2009 Trophy division, while Greece and Gibraltar face relegation to Challenge II due to their withdrawal from the tournament. In the 2007 edition of the Challenge II division, Slovenia and Turkey achieved promotion to Challenge I, with hosts Slovenia cruising past Turkey 5-0 in the final.
Please click here for direct access to the EuroHockey Nations Trophy's own website.