Men’s Champions Challenge II – Day 3: France claimed the one remaining Semi Final place in the Men’s Champions Challenge II in Dublin by crushing Austria 5-1. The result confirmed their place alongside the already qualified Malaysia, Ireland and Poland in the 1-4 Classification matches, which take place on Saturday.
The final round of Pool matches got underway at 13:00, with the action beginning in Pool B as Russia attempted to defeat high-flying Malaysia. A good win for Russia would have temporarily kept alive their chances of reaching the Semi Finals, but despite putting in a superb performance, Malaysia made it three wins out of three by winning 4-3. The winning goal came late in the match, with Faizal SAARI proving to be his team’s hero when he sent a powerful shot into the roof of the net to win the game in spectacular style with just four minutes remaining. The goal sealed Malaysia’s place at the top of Pool B, and also condemned Russia to the 5-8 place Play-Offs. With Russia now well and truly out of the equation for the Semi Finals, Austria and France went head-to-head to decide which of them would be joining Malaysia in the 1-4 Play-Offs. A victory for either team would have been enough to see them reach the Semi Finals, but it was France who came out with all guns blazing, cruising to a 5-1 win. Frederic SOYEZ and Matthieu DURCHON scored two goals each in the triumph, with Arnaud BECUWE also getting his name on the score-sheet.
With Pool B decided, the attention turned to Pool A. It was already known that Ireland and Poland had reached the Semi Finals by winning both of their matches so far in the competition, but who they would face in the next phase remained a mystery. Both sides first had to sit through the Japan v Chile contest, which was also significant in deciding which team would finish in third place as well as who they would face in Saturday’s 5-8 Classification matches. Japan took a 2-0 lead into half time due to goals from Genki MITANI and Ryuji FURUSATO, and increased that lead to 4-0 when Kenji KITAZATO scored twice in the second half. Chile pulled it back to 4-3 but just ran out of time to find what would have been an incredible equaliser. The day’s most eagerly awaited match arrived at 19:45, and it was Ireland who got off to the best start when Michael WATT netted a field goal in the 7th minute. Poland hit back in the 11th minute through Tomasz GORNY, but Ireland re-took the lead through an Alan SOUTHERN penalty corner. Again though, Poland grabbed an equaliser thanks to an open play strike from Maciej JANISZEWSKI in the 30th minute before Poland captain Tomasz DUTKIEWICZ drag flicked what proved to be the winning goal just after the interval to stun the home crowd.
Full reports of the matches along with scoring information can be found below.
Friday is a tournament rest day, with the action resuming on Saturday 11th July. That day will feature the first of the Classification matches, with the teams fighting for 5th to 8th place being first to take to the field. At 09.30 GMT, Pool A’s third placed team Japan take on Austria, who finished bottom of Pool B. That match is followed by the encounter between the teams that finished 3rd in Pool B and 4th in Pool A, which sees Russia and Chile going head to head at 12:00. The tournament Semi Final cross-over matches begin at 14:30, with Poland (1st Pool A) facing a tricky fixture against France (2nd Pool B). The final match of the day is likely to be a fascinating one, as Malaysia (1st Pool B) aim to fight their way past host nation Ireland (2nd Pool A) at 17.00. The winners of the two Semi Finals will meet in the tournament Final on Sunday.
You can find Pool Tables and official Match reports on the Men’s Champions Challenge II page of this website. To visit this page, click here.
DAY 3 REPORTS
Match 9: Malaysia 4 defeated Russia 3
Malaysia made it three wins out of three to end Russia’s chances of reaching the Semi Final stage of the Men’s Champions Challenge II 2022. The 4-3 result went to form, but the match was closely fought and highly entertaining, with Russia producing some excellent hockey to give Malaysia genuine cause for concern.
It took Malaysia less than ten minutes to open the scoring, when Ismail ABU fired in a penalty corner to give his side a 1-0 lead. Malaysia dominated the half, but Russia had good opportunities to draw level but failed to convert a number of chances, including two penalty corners. Malaysia moved into a 2-0 lead five minutes before half time when Hafifi Hafiz HANAFI scored a field goal to make life difficult for the Russians. Despite the set-back, Russia showed terrific fighting spirit in the opening stages of the second half and grabbed a goal back through a 42nd minute Alexey SERGEEV penalty corner. Incredibly, Russia were level just a minute later thanks to Alexey MAMOSHKIN’s field goal, although the Malaysian defence could and should have done better in clearing the danger. Russia were now playing like a team full of confidence and seemed likely to add more goals to their tally. However, it was Malaysia who struck next to re-establish the lead at 3-2 when Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin TENGKU ABD JALIL scored from a penalty corner rebound. Alexey SERGEEV drag-flicked his team back into the contest with a 57th minute penalty corner strike that marked his sixth goal in just three matches. The remainder of the match was end-to-end, as both teams went on the offensive in search of that elusive winning goal. With four minutes left to play, Malaysia got the breakthrough when Faizal SAARI scored the best goal of the match, finding space in the circle before firing high into the goal to effectively win the game. Russia’s frustration at conceding the late goal emerged just a minute later when Sergey KOSTAREV was given a Yellow Card, ruining any chances of a late come-back.
The result sealed Malaysia’s place at the top of Pool B, ensuring that they will now face the runner up from Pool A in the Semi Final stage. For Russia, the defeat means that they must now play in the 5-8 Classification Matches.
Match 10: France 5 defeated Austria 1
France produced a wonderful attacking display to outclass Austria and claim the one remaining place in the Semi Finals.
France began the match with intent, clearly determined that it would be them and not their on-field opponents who would secure a place in the 1-4 Classification matches. Frederic SOYEZ opened the scoring for France in the 16th minute. His trademark drag-flick gave Austrian keeper Philippe THILTGES little chance of saving. France went further ahead when Arnaud BECUWE hit the target from open play. Shortly after half time, Austria pulled a goal back and there were no prizes for guessing that Michael KÖRPER was the scorer. It was the penalty corner expert’s fifth goal of the tournament so far, giving him a very good chance of finishing as top goal scorer. KÖRPER’s goal briefly unsettled France, but Les Bleus soon regained their composure to nail down a deserved victory. In the 59th minute, Frederic SOYEZ claimed his second goal of the match with another penalty corner, and five minutes later the score was 4-1 when Matthieu DURCHON added a field goal. DURCHON completed the scoring four minutes from time with another open play strike to give France a huge boost in confidence ahead of the Semi Finals.
On Saturday, France will play the team that finishes top of Pool A, which will be the winner of this evening’s encounter between host nation Ireland and Poland.
Match 11: Japan 4 defeated Chile 3
Despite having cruised into a comfortable 4-0 lead, Japan were given a late scare by a Chilean team that scored three times in the last fifteen minutes to put their opponents under serious pressure. However, it was too little too late from the South Americans, who fell to their third straight defeat in the Men’s Champions Challenge II.
Genki MITANI needed just three minutes to open the scoring for Japan when he somehow bundled the ball over the Chilean goal-line amongst a crowd of players. Japan were totally in control of the contest, creating a number of excellent chances but were lacking the finishing touch in front of goal. It seemed inevitable that a second Japanese goal would arrive sooner or later, and eventually it did when Ryuji FURUSATO converted a penalty corner rebound just before the half time hooter sounded. Japan were 3-0 up just a minute after the break, when Kenji KITAZATO added a field goal, and in the 54th minute KITAZATO struck again from open play, taking full advantage of a disorganised Chilean defence. This fourth goal seemed to bring Chile to life, as if the acceptance of defeat had lifted a huge weight from their shoulders. Felipe MONTEGU fired in Chile’s first goal of the match in the 55th minute to ensure his team would not leave the field scoreless. However, when Alexis BERZCELY scored a brilliant reverse stick shot in the 60th minute, Chile began to believe that they could get something from a match that seemed lost just five minutes earlier. Chile pressed their opponents and eventually scored a third goal when Felipe EGGERS hit the target just a minute from the end, but the fight-back had arrived just too late for the South Americans. Japan – one of the pre-tournament favourites – had finally won their first match and will now aim to continue their improved form in the 5-8 Classification matches.
Match 12: Poland 3 defeated Ireland 2
The clash of the Pool A giants saw Poland emerge with a 3-2 victory over host nation Ireland. The result confirmed Poland’s place as Pool winners, meaning that they will face France – runners up in Pool B – in the 1-4 Classification cross-over match. For Ireland, defeat means a tough clash with Malaysia, the winners of Pool B and a team with a 100% win record in the Men’s Champions Challenge II.
Ireland got off to the best possible start when Alan WATT picked up a pass from Eugene MAGEE and rifled a reverse stick shot into the roof of the goal after just five minutes. Despite their strong start, Poland were looking threatening themselves and duly levelled the scores in the 11th minute when Tomasz GORNY cracked a vicious shot into the goal from the edge of the circle. With the scores even, both teams went on the offensive, making it a hugely enjoyable game for the many spectators in the ground. Ireland re-established their lead in the 23rd minute when Alan SOUTHERN drag-flicked a powerful penalty corner past Poland goalkeeper Marcin TRZASKAWKA for 2-1. Ireland were the dominant side, but a mistake in midfield led to a fast break forward from Poland who grabbed another equaliser, with Maciej JANISZEWSKI slamming in a rebound from close range five minutes before half time. Poland were certainly the stronger of the two teams in the early stages of the second half, and took just four minutes to take the lead for the first time in the contest. Tomasz DUTKIEWICZ, the team captain and penalty corner expert, stepped up to the mark and flicked his side into a 3-2 lead with a precise effort that would prove to be the winning goal. Ireland had their chances to get something from the game, but penalty corner star John JERMYN saw two excellent efforts saved by the in-form TRZASKAWKA. Alan SOUTHERN also went close to scoring an equaliser, hitting the post from another penalty corner, but it was Poland’s who made it three wins from three matches in the Men’s Champions Challenge II tournament.
Men’s Champions Challenge II, Dublin - Day 3 Scores and Scorers
Match 9: Pool B – Malaysia v Russia 4:3 (2:0)
1-0 MAS Ismail ABU PC 13m
2-0 MAS Hafifi Hafiz HANAFI FG 30m
2-1 RUS Alexey SERGEEV PC 42m
2-2 RUS Alexey MAMOSHKIN FG 43m
3-2 MAS Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin TENGKU ABD JALIL PC 53m
3-3 RUS Alexey SERGEEV PC 57m
4-3 MAS Faizal SAARI FG 66m
Match 10: Pool B – Austria v France 1-5 (0-2)
0-1 FRA Frederic SOYEZ PC 16m
0-2 FRA Arnaud BECUWE FG 18m
1-2 AUT Michael KÖRPER PC 39m
1-3 FRA Frederic SOYEZ PC 59m
1-4 FRA Matthieu DURCHON FG 64m
1-5 FRA Matthieu DURCHON FG 66m
Match 11: Pool A – Japan v Chile 4-3 (2-0)
1-0 JPN Genki MITANI FG 3m
2-0 JPN Ryuji FURUSATO PC 34m
3-0 JPN Kenji KITAZATO FG 36m
4-0 JPN Kenji KITAZATO FG 54m
4-1 CHI Felipe MONTEGU FG 55m
4-2 CHI Alexis BERZCELY FG 60m
4-3 CHI Felipe EGGERS FG 69m
Match 12: Pool A – Poland v Ireland 3-2 (2-2)
0-1 IRL Michael WATT FG 5m
1-1 POL Tomasz GORNY FG 11m
1-2 IRL Alan SOTHERN PG 24m
2-2 POL Maciej JANISZEWSKI FG 30m
3-2 POL Tomasz DUTKIEWICZ PC 39m