Men’s Champions Challenge II – Day 4: Poland and Ireland both produced outstanding performances to fight their way into the tournament Final of the Men’s Champions Challenge II in Dublin.
Poland were the first team to book their place in the tournament Final as team captain Tomasz DUTKIEWICZ inspired his men to a 3-1 win over France. Frederic SOYEZ had put Les Bleus ahead with less than three minutes played thanks to a typically powerful penalty corner flick, but Poland were soon level when Marcin STRYKOWSKI finished off a stunning team goal in the tenth minute. Goals either side of half time from Szymon OSZYJCZYK and DUTKIEWICZ sealed Poland’s triumph, making it an impressive four wins from four matches to reach the tournament Final. The Polish players eagerly awaited the outcome of the contest between host nation Ireland and Malaysia to see which team they would be facing in tomorrow’s 1-2 Classification match. It turned out to be a thrilling contest, with home favourites Ireland keeping alive their dream of winning the Men’s Champions Challenge II on home soil by fighting their way to a 2-1 win. With the score tied at 1-1 extra time seemed almost inevitable, but a 57th minute winner from David HOBBS broke Malaysian hearts whilst simultaneously triggering wild celebrations from the home supporters. Ireland’s win has set up a fascinating re-match against a Poland team that narrowly beat them in the Pool phase of the tournament.
Earlier in the day, the 5-8 classification matches took place with Japan and Austria being the first to take to the field at 09:30. Japan have had a wretched tournament by their own very high standards, and it looked like things could get even worse as they fell behind to a first half strike from Benjamin STANZL. However, goals from Ryuji FURUSATO and Yoshihiro ANAI gave Japan a 2-1 half time lead before a double strike from Genki MITANI put the game out of Austria’s reach. There was still time for a field goal from Wolfgang LAMINGER, but it was too little too late for the Austrians. The result put Japan into Sunday’s 5-6 Place Play-Off where they will face Russia, who recorded a 2-1 victory over a Chile - a team yet to win a match in this tournament. Russia scored a goal in each half with Alexander LIKOV and Alexandre PLATONOV both netting field goals before Thomas KANNEGIESSER scored a late consolation effort from open play. The result meant that Chile would need to defeat Austria to avoid the ignominy of a last place finish in the tournament.
Full reports of the matches along with scoring information can be found below.
Sunday is the final day of the tournament, with the action beginning at 09:00 when Austria and Chile take to the field in a bid to avoid finishing in last place. That match is followed by the fight for 5th place, with Japan versus Russia starting at 12:00. The 3-4 Play-Off takes place at 14:30, with France and Malaysia aiming to end their tournament on a high. Poland and Ireland will contest the Final of the Men’s Champions Challenge II at 17:00, with a place in the 2021 Champions Challenge I going to the winning team.
You can find Pool Tables and official Match reports on the Champions Challenge II page of this website. To visit this page, click here.
DAY 4 REPORTS
Match 13: Japan 4 defeated Austria 2
Japan came from a goal down to defeat Austria 4-2 to seal a place in the 5-6 Classification Match, condemning their opponents to the Play Off for seventh place. It was a lively encounter between the two teams, played with both passion and pride as both sides tried their best to give themselves a shot at a fifth place finish, with Japan emerging as deserving winners.
Austria gave Japan the fright of their lives when Benjamin STANZL scored from open play after 17 minutes, smashing in a first time effort following excellent play down the right from Michael KÖRPER. Japan were stunned, but regained their composure to produce two goals before half time to give themselves the lead. The first goal came from the stick of Ryuji FURUSATO who deflected in a cross following a “self pass” free hit in the 22nd minute. A minute later Japan were given the lead by Yoshihiro ANAI who followed up his initially saved penalty corner effort by crashing home a sensational reverse stick shot. A two goal blitz in the 48th and 50th minutes from Genki MITANI took Japan into a 4-1 lead. Both goals were from close range, with the second showing a clever touch to move past Austrian goalkeeper Lukas GRASER before passing the ball into the empty net. Austria grabbed a goal back in the 59th minute when Wolfgang LAMINGER burst through the Japanese defence to make the score 4-2, but Japan’s lead was never in threat, being enough to book their place in Sunday’s 5-6 Classification Match.
Match 14: Russia 2 defeated Chile 1
Russia joined Japan in the 5-6 Classification Match by claiming a 2-1 victory over Chile. Russia scored a goal in each half with Alexander LIKOV and Alexandre PLATONOV both netting field goals before Thomas KANNEGIESSER scored a late consolation effort from open play. The result meant that Chile would need to defeat Austria to avoid a last place finish in the Men’s Champions Challenge II tournament.
Russia opened the scoring in the 14th minute of the match with a terrific reverse stick strike from Alexander LIKOV. It was a goal that proved to be the highlight of a first half that saw Chile win four penalty corners but fail to convert on each occasion. These wasted opportunities arguably cost Chile a half time lead, and the South Americans saw another two penalty corner chances go begging at the beginning of the second period, as Russian goalkeeper Roman ROGOV made comfortable saves to deny the opportunities. Russia began to put Chile under considerable pressure, and in the 44th minute won their first penalty corner of the match. An impressive routine from Russia forced Chilean keeper Mauro SCAFF into making a marvellous save from point blank range to block Sergey KOSTAREV’s goal-bound deflection. Chile were still looking more than capable of producing an equaliser, but the team suffered a blow when Alexis BERZCELY was given a Yellow Card, temporarily reducing his team to ten players. Russia regained the initiative and won a number of penalty corners but could not find a way past SCAFF. Eventually though, the second goal arrived for Russia as team captain Alexandre PLATONOV scored into an open goal following a superb break forward involving both the goal-scoer and Alexey MAMOSHKIN. Chile made the score 2-1 when Thomas KANNEGEISSER scored from open play with just two minutes of play remaining. In the dying seconds, Chile had the chance to equalise and force extra time with a penalty corner, but the effort was wasted confirming Russia’s place in the Play-Off for 5th position.
Match 15: Poland 3 defeated France 1
Poland became the first team to reach the Final of the Men’s Champions Challenge II tournament with a 3-1 win over France. Poland captain Tomasz DUTKIEWICZ scored the decisive goal to maintain his team’s 100 % win record at the event. It was a wonderfully disciplined performance from Poland, who soaked up a great deal of pressure from their opponents before launching a number of breathtaking counter-attacks that France struggled to cope with.
France began the match extremely brightly, and needed less than three minutes to open their account. France captain Frederic SOYEZ slammed a typically powerful penalty corner flick into the net to give his side a deserved lead. Poland seemed totally unaffected by this early strike, and immediately set about the task of finding an equaliser. Poland got exactly what they were looking for in the tenth minute, when Marcin STRYKOWSKI cleverly finished off a stunning team move to level the scores. France fell behind on the half hour mark, when Szymon OSZYJCZYK tapped in from close range following another smart passing move, with Tomasz CHOCZAJ playing a key part in the goal thanks to a superb, space-creating run. CHOCZAJ was a key performer for his side throughout the match, and was unlucky not to have been on the score-sheet himself when he hit the side of the goal shortly after half time. Poland continued to look extremely dangerous going forward, and their chances of victory improved further when France’s Lucas SEVERSTRE was given a Yellow Card in the 39th minute. Poland could not make the extra man count, but a third goal arrived in the 54th minute when team captain Tomasz DUTKIEWICZ sent a ferocious penalty corner drag flick into the goal to give his side some breathing space. From this point it seemed as if Poland would cruise to victory, but France were given the opportunity to fight back when Miroslaw JUSZCZAK and DUTKIEWICZ were both given Yellow Cards within a minute of each other. However, despite having only nine men on the field, Poland defended their goal as if their lives depended on it and held on for an excellent victory.
Match 16: Ireland 2 defeated Malaysia 1
Ireland kept alive their dream of winning the Men’s Champions Challenge II on home soil by battling their way past Malaysia. The host nation secured a 2:1 victory thanks to a 57th minute goal from David HOBBS to set up a fascinating re-match against Poland, a team that narrowly defeated them in the Pool phase of the tournament.
This was a battle between two very evenly matched teams with contrasting styles of hockey. Malaysia were playing the fluid attacking game that so many Asian teams are famous for, but the excellent structure displayed by the Irish made life extremely difficult for their opponents throughout the game. Ireland started the better of the two sides, and took the lead when John JERMYN slammed in a penalty corner after just five minutes of play. It was JERMYN’s sixth goal of the tournament, making him the leading scorer in the event. Malaysia hit back in the 20th minute through Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin TENGKU ABD. JALIL, who tied the scores with a well executed penalty corner. No further goals were scored in the first half, but the tide seemed to turn in favour of Malaysia shortly after the break as Ireland’s penalty corner expert John JERMYN was given a Yellow Card. Malaysia tried to capitalise on their now weakened opponents, but Ireland defended excellently and saw JERMYN return to the field with the score the same as when he left it. Ireland’s breakthrough came in the 57th minute when they won a penalty corner, and it was David HOBBS who scored what proved to be the winning goal to set up a re-match against Pool A opponents Poland.
Men’s Champions Challenge II, Dublin. Day 4 - Scores and Scorers
Match 13 – 5-8 – Japan v Austria 4-2 (2-1)
0-1 AUT Benjamin STANZL FG 17m
1-1 JPN Ryuji FURUSATO FG 22m
2-1 JPN Yoshihiro ANAI PC 25m
3-1 JPN Genki MITANI FG 48m
4-1 JPN Genki MITANI FG 50m
4-2 AUT Wolfgang LAMINGER FG 58m
Match 14 – 5-8 – Russia v Chile 2-1 (1-0)
1-0 RUS Alexander LIKOV FG 14m
2-0 RUS Alexandre PLATONOV FG 64m
2-1 CHI Thomas KANNEGIESSER FG 68m
Match 15 – 1-4 – Poland v France 3-1 (2-1)
0-1 FRA Frederic SOYEZ PC 3m
1-1 POL Marcin STRYKOWSKI FG 10m
1-2 POL Szymon OSZYJCZYK FG 30m
1-3 POL Tomasz DUTKIEWICZ PC 54m
Match 16 – 1-4 – Malaysia v Ireland 1-2 (1-1)
0-1 IRL John JERMYN PC 5m
1-1 MAS Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin TENGKU ABD. JALIL PC 20m
1-2 IRL David Hobbs PC 57m