At the BDO Champions Challenge in Salta, Argentina is the only team with two wins after a decisive result over Pakistan (3-1). India, New Zealand and South Africa all won their games on the same score of 4-1.
Game 5 – India v. China: 4-1 (half-time: 2-0)
Thanks to a local ritual of breaking an egg and planting a knife in the earth outside the venue, the first game of the day started under clearer skies! India were promptly on the attack and earned a series of penalty-corners. They missed the first one but Prabhjot SINGH was well positioned to collect the rebound on the second and open the scoring in the 7th minute.
India kept besieging relentlessly the Chinese goal, often mystifying the Chinese defense with swift passes, but Rifeng SU stood tall in the Chinese goal and skillfully saved some dangerous shots from close range as well as a strong penalty-corner attempt by Dhananjay MAHADIK. China took advantage of green cards to Indian players to become more threatening but missed their chance to tie the game on two successive penalty-corner attempts.
Play slowed down for a while until the Indian forward stole a ball in midfield in the final minute of the period and overwhelmed the Chinese defense, with Rajpal SINGH deflecting the ball in goal from close range without opposition to increase their lead into the break to two goals.
Despite having most of the ball possession, India seemed to favor individual runs and long balls over collective built-up, and could not significantly penetrate the well regrouped Chinese defense. China reduced the gap in the 41st minute with a penalty-stroke powerfully shot by Yi SONG. Despite a yellow card to Yongxin CUI, India still could not score and were even lucky to survive another penalty-corner unscathed.
It took a penalty-corner in the 56th minute for Sarwanjit SINGH, pouncing on the rebound, to finally increase their tally and build back a more comfortable two-goal cushion. China increased their pressure in the final minutes and had another good chance on a penalty-corner after a yellow card to Sardar SINGH, but their elaborate combination ended up wide, and India went on to a 4-1 win after a last minute goal by Shivendra SINGH.
Game 6 – Belgium v. New Zealand: 1-4 (half-time: 1-1)
The game between the Red Devils and the Black Sticks was from the start an intense affair, with both teams having chances in the opening minutes, including a penalty-corner for New Zealand well saved by David van RYSSELBERGHE in the Belgium goal. Play continued back and forth, providing the crowd with an entertaining display of total hockey, but both defenses were vigilant and no goal was scored until the 25th minute, when Dean COUZINS converted a penalty-stroke after their third unsuccessful penalty-corner attempt was stopped illegally.
Belgium came back strongly by Cedric CHARLIER at the conclusion of a long sequence of hard work in the New Zealand circle. He nearly doubled his tally a few minutes later but missed the deflection after a spectacular dive in front of Kyle PONTIFEX. New Zealand had another chance on penalty-corner in the final seconds of the period but were again unsuccessful.
The second half was also fiercely contested, and Belgium averted a few goals, first by Xavier RECKINGER stopping a penalty-corner on the line then by David van RYSSELBERGHE making spectacular saves in front of Simon CHILD. It took another penalty-stroke, this time by Ryan ARCHIBALD, to break the deadlock in the 49th minute.
New Zealand ran away with the score in the final portion of the match, scoring two goals in quick succession, first by Simon CHILD receiving a superb pass by Phillip BURROWS and crucifying the keeper from the top of the circle, then by Hugo INGLIS. With the win, Belgium and India are tied at the top of Pool B with 4 points each.
Game 7 – Canada v. South Africa: 1-4 (half-time: 0-1)
Both teams started tentatively, with the first chance for Canada when Connor GRIMES received a good cross from Mark PEARSON but was prevented from deflecting it in goal. Canada kept pushing, with Rob SHORT and PEARSON very active in the 25, but wasted a few plays with high passes in the circle. The Canadians seemed to control play, but were in danger on a counter-attack by Lloyd NORRIS-JONES that found Thornton McDADE alone in front of Dave CARTER in the Canadian goal, but the shot was wide.
Canada had a massive opportunity when Dave JAMESON received the ball on the stroke point but lost it before adjusting a shot. The same player was showed a yellow card soon after for hitting an opponent and the balance of play shifted immediately in favor of South Africa. The Canadians absorbed well the pressure and even created the most dangerous chance when Gabbar SINGH ran the ball into the circle but Ranjeev DEOL, alone in front of the goal, count not control the bouncing cross.
Finally, the South Africans took advantage of their numeric superiority in the 30th minute when Wade PATON received the ball unmarked in the left of the circle and managed to slot it between the pads of Dave CARTER in the Canadian goal to open the score. They nearly doubled their tally soon after but half-time was reached with this lone goal.
With Canada down again one player at the beginning of the second period, South Africa maintained their pressure. First Gareth CARR unleashed a shot that shaved the post, then Ian HALEY did not miss the opportunity to increase the gap, pouncing on a penalty corner rebound. With the Canadian defense looking a tad disorganized, Justin REID-ROSS added a penalty-corner in the 46th minute to build a comfortable three goal lead.
With 2 green cards and 3 yellow ones, Canada spent most of the second period short of players and had slim chances to fill the gap with South Africa. Scott TUPPER salvaged some pride with a penalty-corner in the 59th minute but it was too little too late and Gareth CARR promptly re-established the three-goal lead, also with a penalty-corner. After starting well, Canada paid for their indiscipline with a severe loss than leaves them pointless after two days of competition.
Game 8 – Argentina v. Pakistan: 3-1 (half-time: 2-0)
With the sun timidly trying to force its way through the clouds, the local crowd came in drove to support Argentina, and they were immediately rewarded when Facundo CALLIONI, left totally unmarked on the far post, slotted the ball in goal in the first minute of play! Pakistan had a penalty-corner soon after but Sohail ABBAS’s flick was wide.
Play between the two highly skilled teams was flowing back and forth, with opportunities at both ends that kept the fans on the edge of their seats, especially when Juan Tomas ESPINOSA in the Argentinean goal denied Sohail ABBAS on another penalty-corner attempt. Every ball was fiercely contested and tempers started to flare up. Teams traded green cards and Argentina increased their lead on their first penalty-corner by Pedro IBARRA with a strong low shot left of Salman AKBAR in the Pakistani goal.
Pakistan jumped out of the blocks in second period and Rehan BUTT had right away a good chance after penetrating the circle but his shot from close range was inches wide. They maintained their pressure and controlled the ball for a while but too often wasted plays with unforced errors. Argentina were more realistic at the other end and earn a penalty-corner on one of their rare incursions in the Pakistani circle, dutifully scored by Pedro IBARRA, already his fifth of the competition.
Rehan BUTT and Shakeel ABBASI kept trying hard upfront but never managed to effectively threaten ESPINOSA in goal. It took a penalty-corner by Sohail ABBAS in the 66th minute to reduce the gap (his 301st international goal, after scoring the 300th on Sunday against Canada) but Argentina finally earned a deserved victory that puts them alone with two wins at the top of pool B.
The round-robin phase of the BDO Champions Challenge concludes on Thursday in Salta when Pakistan face South Africa, New Zealand meet China, India play Belgium and Canada conclude the day against hosts Argentina.
BDO Champions Challenge I (men) – Salta, Argentina
Results Day 2: Tuesday 8 December 2022
India - China 4:1 (2:0)
IND 7mn Prabhjot SINGH (PC) 1:0
IND 35mn Rajpal SINGH (FG) 2:0
CHN 41mn Yi SONG (PS) 2:1
IND 56mn Sarwanjit SINGH (PC) 3:1
IND 70mn Shivendra SINGH (FG) 4:1
Belgium - New Zealand 1:4 (1:1)
NZL 25mn Dean COUZINS (PS) 0:1
BEL 30mn Cedric CHARLIER (FG) 1:1
NZL 49mn Ryan ARCHIBALD (PS) 1:2
NZL 64mn Simon CHILD (FG) 1:3
NZL 65mn Hugo INGLIS (FG) 1:4
Canada - South Africa 1:4 (0:1)
RSA 30mn Wade PATON (FG) 0:1
RSA 41mn Ian HALEY (PC) 0:2
RSA 46mn Justin REID-ROSS (PC) 0:3
CAN 59mn Scott TUPPER (PC) 1:3
RSA 65mn Gareth CARR (PC) 1:4
Argentina - Pakistan 3:1 (2:0)
ARG 1mn Facundo CALLIONI (FG) 1:0
ARG 31mn Pedro IBARRA (PC) 2:0
ARG 52mn Pedro IBARRA (PC) 3:0
PAK 66mn Sohail ABBAS (PC) 3:1
Pool A: 1) India and New Zealand 4 pts (+3) 3) Belgium 3 pts 4) China 0 pt
Pool B: 1) Argentina 6 pts 2) South Africa 3 pts (-1 / 6 goals for) 3) Pakistan 3 pts (-1 / 3 goals for) 4) Canada 0 pt