December 19, 2014
FIELD HOCKEY — WORLD CUPTuesday, June 10, 2014
Australia men, Dutch women reach semis
Both Argentine teams practically certain
Both Australian teams, Dutch women and England’s men advanced to the semifinals. The Argentine teams are close to qualifying as they need only a draw in today’s matches. The men face South Africa and the women play China.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — When second-placed Australia’s women were held to 0-0 by New Zealand, already qualified Netherlands made sure of finishing top of Group A by playing their last match against South Korea who were already sure of playing for third place, so it was really a dead match. Still it was interesting to note that Netherlands, perhaps not trying too hard, scored their usual early goal from a penalty corner after three minutes, but then did not find it easy, before increasing their score after 48 and 55 minutes for a 3-0 win.
However, of the Dutch team’s six penalty corners, the first was netted after a series of passes, three were saved and one went high while the much-feared Maartje Paumen netted only one. Paumen also netted a strange penalty stroke. The referee was right in front of the two girls involved and gave a penalty corner. The Dutch asked for a video referral which comes from someone behind the play and this awarded the penalty stroke. It was a pity the Koreans were poor near and in the circle and even poorer with seven penalty corners awarded in the second half.
The women’s semifinals on Thursday will see Netherlands and Australia facing either the US or Argentina, depending on which team is first and second in group B. Today, the US faces South Africa and Argentina plays China who may have more incentive as they have a mathematical, but unlikely chance of displacing Argentina. The US also has a better goal difference than Argentina by two. So it looks like Netherlands v Argentina and USA v Australia in the semifinals.
England beat Belgium 3-2 with a penalty stroke four minutes from the end to qualify for the semifinals in second place well behind Australia. It was a close match as Belgium began the day a point in front so England needed a win to qualify. On top of that, England went a goal down after 13 minutes, but goalkeeper George Pinner made some good saves in an even match. The Belgians are rather dirty in their play, but they helped to provide some entertainment. After an entry into their circle they claimed that “English players were pushing the ball into the goalkeeper” and it went to a video referral which they lost. For this reporter it was a joke.
In the men’s semifinals, Group A winner Australia will face Group B second, most likely to be Argentina who play bottom South Africa today, while group B’s likely winners, Netherlands (who could, if they lose, be caught up on goals by Argentina who are presently inferior by four goals) would play England. The Netherlands play New Zealand today, needing one point to make sure of a semifinal place.