July 25, 2014
Field hockey — World cupWednesday, June 11, 2014
Men make semifinals for first time
Argentine women only draw with China and next face Dutch
Argentina’s men’s and women’s Argentine teams qualified yesterday for semifinals. Women are used to being in the last four stage but it was the first for the men, who will face Australia on Friday while the Leonas will play the Netherlands tomorrow.
THE HAGUE — Argentina’s men qualified for the field hockey World Cup semifinals for the first time yesterday, causing Germany to become the first Olympic champion to miss the semis since 1971. Women’s team tied with China and also reach the semifinals but, in opposition with the men, the Leonas, apart from being the defending champion, have clinched a semifinal spot in the last five World Cups.
The men’s highest final position at a World Cup was two second places in 1986 and 2002. They qualified for the semifinals yesterday with 12 points from four wins (Germany, New Zealand, South Korea and South Africa) and a loss (3-1 against Netherlands).
Argentina’s men made sure of a semifinal place by beating group B bottom South Africa 5-1, but it was not so easy at first and Gonzalo Peillat was not netting the penalty corners. But apart from the usual solid defence which gave penalty corners away during the whole match, there was contribution in attack with Joaquín Menini opening the score in 20 minutes. Peillat made it two after penalty corners combinations five minutes later. South Africa hardly managed to get into the Argentine circle, but they got on top in the second half when Argentine players Manuel Brunet, Juan Martín López and Matías Paredes got yellow cards from a strict referee in rapid succession.
But prominent Lucas Vila broke into the circle to score the third goal in 49 minutes when Argentina only had nine men on the field and for a few minutes had eight. Clinton Panther scored for South Africa in 57 minutes, but in the last 12 minutes Argentina was on top again and added goals with a penalty corner by Peillat (making it two from seven corners, leaving him as tournament top scorer with nine) and Vila. Argentina broke 27 times into the rival circle and South Africa only 11 times. So in Friday’s semifinals, Argentina plays Australia (coach Carlos Retegui says he is a great fan of Aussie hockey) and the Dutch play England.
In other matches, Germany beat South Korea 6-1 and the Netherlands tied New Zealand 1-1.
In the women’s group B, the 1-1 draw between Argentina and China is hard to explain. At the start, some of their passing went astray and it was even. But as soon as Argentina began to combine better and have more of the ball, they dominated and broke into the circle no less than 30 times to China’s eight. Argentina also had four penalty corners to none and should have had more, but Silvina D’Elia was slow in hitting three of them. Carla Rebecchi finally scored in 24 minutes after a good combination and there also should have been more. China gained practically their only second half attack, with one player in the circle in 58 minutes — Meiju Liang who beat Belén Succi with a strong, high shot.
China’s mostly big girls defended well, sometimes a bit roughly. So in tomorrow’s semifinals, group winner USA faces Australia while Argentina once again plays the Dutch. Actually, before the match Argentina had a chance of finishing top to avoid the hosts if they had scored more goals to beat USA’s superior goal difference of four, but Retegui said for him the match against the Dutch in a big stadium is the highlight of the tournament and he would rather have them as opponents in the semifinals, because you never know who will be in the final.
Other Pool B results: US 4 South Africa 2 and England 3 Germany 1.
Captain Luciana Aymar did not play again yesterday and her hamstring injury was still hurting. Retegui says she will be tested right up to Friday’s match to see if she could get off the bench where she sat again yesterday. When she could not play in Sunday’s match, it ended her run of 33 consecutive World Cup matches.
Today is a rest day.