December 16, 2017

Field Hockey

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Argentina v Netherlands classic semi

By Eric Weil / For The Herald
For the first time both men’s and women’s teams reached the semifinals of the same year’s World Cups. The women are accustomed to it, but it is the first time for the men who should rise quite a bit from their world ranked 11th place after this tournament. Australia, Argentina and the Dutch hosts, with both sexes in the last four, undoubtedly proved themselves to be the strongest hockey countries. Yet Argentina may not have it easy.

Argentina’s women, more used to being in the last four, face the Dutch today at 2.25pm (Argentine time) which has become a frequent and classic encounter between the two top-ranked teams in the world. Captain Luciana Aymar, last year and often before named top player in the world by the International Hockey Federation, was playing her third or fourth “farewell tournament,” but has always been urged to carry on. At 36, she may not be at her best now, but obviously she made a difference, because since a hamstring injury kept her out of the last two games, Argentina only beat England with the last stroke and drew with China in spite of playing enough to win. Aymar will be tested just before the match today, but with or without her, the Dutch at home will be a tough nut to crack.

The Dutch have scored 17 goals to one in their five group games won. Argentina were 12-5 on goals with a 3-2-0 record. Whatever happens, Aymar would not be the only one to retire soon. The team is the second-oldest in the tournament (behind Germany) and a transition will be due soon. The other semifinal is between Australia and the US, and the losers play for third place on Saturday, prior to the final.

Tomorrow, the men face Australia who should have more experience because they play far more international matches than Argentina, while neither are young teams, close to an average of 30. Australia only had one goal scored against them in five group matches, scoring 19. Argentina have also had good defence with five goals against and few penalty corners conceded while their penalty corner-taker Gonzalo Peillat is tournament scorer with nine goals of the team’s 15. But the boys, who never had such great expectations, know they cannot rely on Peillat’s goals as they have to attack a lot to get penalty corners. Much will depend on their attack, having lost one of their best, Facundo Calloni with illness just before the tournament.

The Australians are bigger on the whole and referees here have overlooked a lot of pushing. The other semifinal is Netherlands v England and the two losers play for third place on Sunday, prior to the final.

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